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Chicago investor in talks to reopen Fantasy Island in New York

Chicago investor Gene Staples is negotiating with Store Capital to reopen the closed Fantasy Island amusement park in Grand Island, NY.

Fantasy Island new york

Gene Staples is in negotiations with Store Capital Real Estate Investment Trust Co to reopen Fantasy Island, which was run by Apex Parks Group from 2016 until it closed in 2020 (via Buffalo Business First).

Staples is looking for a long-term lease for the attraction in Grand Island, New York. The investor recently purchased and reopened the Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort in Monticello from Apex Parks Group.

Angela DeBellis, manager of lease administration at Store Capital, said the company “is in negotiations” to reopen Fantasy Island, which first welcomed visitors in 1961.

Gene Staples negotiating with Store Capital

“We don’t take finding a new operator lightly,” DeBellis said. “We know the park is a big topic of conversation in Buffalo, but we are focused on finding the best operator for Fantasy Island.”

Grand Island supervisor John Whitney confirmed that Staples’ Niagara Amusement Park Holdings is in talks with Store Capital. Whitney expects a deal to be finalised this week.

He also said he has met with Staples and Store Capital executives about the deal, adding: “Personally, I’m excited that someone will be breathing new life into the park.”

Store Capital purchased Fantasy Island from Martin DiPietro in 2016 for $11 million. The company hired Apex Parks Group to operate and manage the attraction until its closure in February 2020.

Apex Parks Group operated park until 2020

It was revealed in May 2020 that Apex Parks Group was being taken over by a lender group led by Cerberus Capital Management LP for $45 million.

Apex Parks Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2020. It also disclosed plans to be acquired by Cerberus Capital Management.

Amusement park company Empire Adventures previously shared plans to reimagine, revitalise and reopen Fantasy Island in summer 2021.

Images: Apex Parks Group

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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