Herschend to manage Darien Lake and Elitch Gardens

Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 9:57 PM | Contributed by ShaneDenmark

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., owners of Darien Lake Theme Park Resort and Elitch Gardens, and Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the nation's largest family-owned theme park corporation, jointly announced today that HFE would assume the day-to-day management of both properties starting January 25, 2011. Based near Buffalo, New York, and in Denver, Colorado, respectively, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort and Elitch Gardens both include a theme park, a water park and a performance venue. In addition, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort also includes a hotel, cabins and a campground. HFE will become the management company for all properties; CNL Lifestyle Properties remains the owner. Curt Caffey, senior vice president and managing director, CNL Lifestyle Properties and Joel Manby, president and CEO, HFE, made the announcement.

“HFE was a natural choice due to the company’s solid history of operating first-class, successful theme parks with a reputation for top service and guest experience standards,” said Caffey. “Both Darien Lake and Elitch Gardens already have strong foundations as beautiful, fun and wholesome family parks. We’re confident Herschend will use its operations know-how to take these attractions to the next level.”

“We are eager to get to work managing the operations at these popular parks. With 50 years of experience serving millions of guests, and operating a variety of family entertainment enterprises including theme parks, water parks, tour businesses, hotels and campgrounds, HFE is committed to delivering great value while always bringing families closer together. These parks align well with that philosophy,” said Manby. “Our aim is to make the transition as seamless as possible for the parks’ employees and as transparent as possible to guests.”

As the parks’ new management company, HFE will oversee all operations including supervising more than 3,500 full-time and seasonal employees.

Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is New York State's largest theme and water park resort. Darien Lake Theme Park Resort provides accommodations at the Lodge on the Lake Hotel with Forts-o-Fun suites, Brown Bear Cabins, RV sites and campgrounds. It is also home to a 22,000-seat performing arts center featuring some of today’s hottest musical acts.

For more than 120 years, Elitch Gardens has been a gathering place for Colorado's families and children and the entertainment hub of the community. It was home to the first zoo, first theater, first movie house, first symphony orchestra and continues to be the oldest continually operating theme park west of the Mississippi.

Read the entire press release (PDF) from Herschend Family Entertainment.

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