Paul McKibben reports
A new operator will take over The Beach Waterpark in Mason and plans to re-open the facility next year under a revised name: The Beach at Adventure Landing.
Ralph Vilardo Jr., the new general manager at The Beach, said Adventure Holdings LLC will spend at least $1 million on upgrades, including four new slides, a new children’s area and a new wave pool.
Adventure Holdings LLC is the parent company of Adventure Landing, which is based in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. It operates 17 family entertainment centers in seven states. Adventure Holdings LLC said it has signed a long-term lease with an option to purchase the park, but did not disclose additional details.
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“I look forward to welcoming back the dedicated supporters of The Beach in 2013, and hope they enjoy the upgrades and enhancements we plan to make to the park,” said Hank Woodburn, the founder and president of Adventure Landing, in a statement.
Season passes for 2012 will be honored next year, which impacts approximately 8,800 customers who were not reimbursed after the park announced in March that it was shutting down. Instead, the former owners offered discounts of up to $200 at other area attractions including Kings Island, Coney Island’s Sunlite Pool and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
“As a past employee and new general manager of The Beach, I am excited to welcome Adventure Holdings LLC to the Greater Cincinnati area,” said Ralph Vilardo Jr. “The Beach has provided the community with years of entertainment and memories and I am proud to see its legacy continue.”
“I thought we were out of the money,” said Andy Baxter of Lebanon, who spent $250 for platinum season passes.
In May, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sued The Beach’s owners in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, alleging the park violated the state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act. The suit accused The Beach of “unfair or deceptive acts and practices” for refusing to refund season passes and not giving comparable services.
The compensation offered did not constitute “similar goods or services of equal or greater value” as Ohio law requires, DeWine said in May.
DeWine’s office did not respond to request for comment on Wednesday, and it’s unclear how the lawsuit will be impacted by the news.
Vilardo said honoring the season passes reflects the new operator’s understanding of the public relations fallout after the park closed, which led to 465 complaints with DeWine’s office.
For nearly three decades, The Beach was a haven for families who wanted to beat the heat without leaving home, and was a tourist attraction for Warren County.
The 35-acre, tropical-themed park is the largest standalone water park in Ohio, and featured attractions including the 500-foot water coaster Aztec Adventure, and the 750,000-gallon Kahuna Beach Wavepool.
Since its opening in 1985, The Beach employed 15,000 people – including 500 seasonal employees – and had 7.5 million visitors.
But flat attendance and increasing operating costs cut into profits, and the company cited “a challenging competitive and economic climate, and changing patron entertainment habits” when it closed.
Kings Island, which is located near The Beach in Mason, this season opened a revamped water park with more attractions and a new name, Soak City.
When asked if The Beach operating next year will impact Soak City, Kings Island spokesman Don Helbig said via email, “Soak City is the premier water park in the region. Nothing else around compares.”