Wednesday, July 10, 2002 | 10:55 a.m.
The Wet 'n Wild theme park on the Las Vegas Strip has a new owner -- its fifth since 1998.
Irvine, Calif.-based Palace Entertainment, which has 20 theme parks nationwide, bought Wet 'n Wild from Alfa SmartParks, a Florida company with water parks in the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
Palace also bought five other U.S. water parks from Alfa SmartParks, including parks in California, New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida. The parks join Palace's existing roster of three water parks and 17 theme parks nationwide, which operate under the brand names Boomers, Camelot Park, Bullwinkle's and Huish Family Fun Centers.
Palace officials declined to disclose the value of the deal, which closed last weekend.
"We acquired (Wet 'n Wild) because it's a great park with a great history and a great location on the Strip," said Chip Cleary, vice president of Palace's water parks division. "We like to buy good parks in good locations and then come in with the whipped cream and the sprinkles that make it an even more special place for families to come to."
Cleary said Palace will not change the park's operations, admission prices or attraction lineup this year because such changes are difficult to make mid-season. He said the company will evaluate the park's operations and amenities next year and begin making changes then.
He also said Palace will retain the park's current staff, which consists of 30 year-round and 200 to 300 seasonal workers.
"Wet 'n Wild has a great management and staff. We want to keep them there, and take the Wet 'n Wild brand and expand it."
Palace Entertainment is the latest in a series of recent owners for Wet 'n Wild, which opened in 1977.
The Universal Studios subsidiary of Seagram Co. acquired the park from Arlington, Texas-based Wet 'n Wild Co. in October 1998. Universal sold the park to the Ogden Corp., a New York conglomerate, in March 1999. Ogden spun off Wet 'n Wild to Alfa SmartParks in March 2000 after deciding to focus its business on energy generation.