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Amusement Park Chains, 2009: A Guide to Who Owns What

Please see 2012 report: Blooloop’s Who’s Who: Amusement Park Chain Ownership 2012

Who owns the major theme parks, and who owns the chains that own the amusement parks – annual study by Tracy Kahaner for TEA (Themed Entertainment Association).

By Tracy Kahaner

Publisher's note: We believe the information in this article to be well-researched and accurate. We apologize for any inadvertent omissions or errors. We are indebted to the owner/operators who took the time to review this information for accuracy.

This is the second annual study I have prepared regarding who owns what theme park and who owns which chain. There have been some interesting changes of ownership recently. On October 7, Anheuser-Bush InBev announced that it would sell Busch Entertainment Corporation to the Blackstone Group. Ever since European beverage giant InBev acquired Busch Corp. about a year earlier, it had been expected that the Busch parks would be spun off. Another transaction worth noting for what it may bring in the future, although it does not alter park ownership today, is Disney's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment Inc. And recent announcements have indicated that ownership changes may soon be in the cards for Universal parks.

Note: TEA already compiles, jointly with AECOM, an annual Attraction Attendance Report with attendance numbers for major amusement parks, water parks and chains.  As done for the previous report, the “Top 10 Amusement/Theme Park Chains Worldwide” from this Report was used as the guideline for this document.

Several chains have branded smaller facilities in addition to their major parks.   For the most part, these have been included in order to provide a complete list of attractions owned and/or managed. Attractions such as the cable car rides owned and operated by Parques Reunidos; Herschend’s Ride The Ducks and the riverboat attraction; along with Talking Rocks Cavern and Stone Mountain Park, have been omitted. Hotel and indoor water park properties are excluded, as well.  It should be noted that this study only includes park properties with separate gates. 

Walt Disney Parks

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Lake Buena Vista, FL.
Disney’s California Adventure Park, Anaheim, CA.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista, FL.epcot at disney world orlando for who owns which theme park
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA
Disneyland Park, Marne-La-Valle, FR
Epcot, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island, HK, CH
Magic Kingdom Park, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Tokyo Disneyland Park, Urayasu, Chiba, JP
Tokyo DisneySea Park, Urayasu, Chiba, JP
Walt Disney Studios Park, Marne-La-Valle, FR

Merlin Entertainments Group

 Alton Towers, UK
 Chessington World of Adventures, UK
 The Dungeons 1
 Earth Explore, Belgium
 Gardaland, Italy
 Heide Park, Germany
 LEGOLAND Discovery Center 3
 Madame Tussauds 4
 Merlin Entertainments London Eye, UK 5
 SEA LIFE Centres 6
 SEA LIFE Seal Sanctuaries, UK 7
 Thorpe Park, UK
 Warwick Castle, UK

1  There are five Dungeons’ and the locations are: London, Edinburgh, York, Hamburg and Amsterdam.  A Dungeon was also opened at Warwick Castle in 2009 but is part of the Castle and not a stand-alone attraction.

There are four LEGOLAND theme parks: LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark; LEGOLAND Windsor in Windsor, England: LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad, California; and LEGOLAND Deutschland in Germany.

There are three LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Berlin and Duisburg in Germany and in Chicago, USA. 

4  There are nine Madame Tussauds around the globe – London, New York, Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Washington DC, Berlin and Hollywood, CA (opened in August 2009)

5  The London Eye was renamed the “Merlin London Eye” in August 2009 when a new 4D cinema preshow was also added to the attraction.

6  There are 27 stand-alone Sea Life attractions in more than 11 countries. These include Sea Life London Aquarium and the Underwater Adventures Aquarium at Mall of America in Minneapolis, USA; as well as second gate attractions in both the Gardaland Resort in Italy and LEGOLAND California. It should be noted that this year the London Aquarium is included in this number; since this aquarium was purchased in May 2008 it was given individual mention in last year's study.  It subsequently received a major refit and has been relaunched as the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. SEA LIFE attractions also make up part of the overall theme park offer in both Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo and Alton Towers Resort.

7  There are three SEA LIFE Seal Sanctuaries in the UK – Gweek, Cornwall; Oban West Highlands; and Hunstanton in Norfolk.

Universal Studios Recreation Group

 Islands of Adventures, Orlando, FL
 Universal Studios Florida, Orlando, FL
 Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, CAwho owns theme parks
 Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, JP  
 Wet’n Wild (water park), Orlando, FL
 Universal Studios Singapore (opens in 2010)

Six Flags Inc.

 American Adventures, Marietta, GA
 Six Flags America, Largo, MD
 Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, CA
 Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, TX
 Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ
 Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, IL
 The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom / Six Flags Great Escape Lodge &   Indoor Waterpark, Lake George, NY
 Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park), Arlington, TX
 Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park), Jackson, N.J. 
 Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park), Valencia, CA
 Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville, KY
 Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA
 Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City, MX
 Six Flag New England, Agawam, MA
 Six Flags New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 8
 Six Flags Over Georgia, Atlanta, GA
 Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, TX
 Six Flags Saint Louis, Eureka, MO
 Six Flags White Water Atlanta (water park), Marietta, GA
 Six Flags Wild Safari Animal Park, Jackson, NJ
 La Ronde, Montreal, Canada
 The Great Escape, Lake George, NY

8 During September it was announced that New Orleans was moving to end its lease agreement with the theme park operator Six Flags. On October 8, 2009 the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the lease termination and settlement agreement between Six Flags and New Orleans.

Parques Reunidos 

 Aqualud (water park), Le Touquet, France
 Aquarium of the Lakes (zoo & nature park) Lakeside, England
 Aquopolis (water park), Costa Daurada, Cullera, San Fernando de Henares,
 Sevilla, Cartaya, Torrevieja, Villanueva de la Canada
 Aquasplash Marineland (water park), Anbibes, France
 Big Kahuna’s (water park), Destin, FL
 Blackpool Zoo (zoo & nature park), Lancashire, UK
 Bo Sommarland (water park), Norway
 Bobbejaanland (amusement park), Lichtaart, Belgium
 Bonbonland (amusement park), Denmark
 Boomers Family Entertainment Centers, 11 locations in CA, 2 in FL and 1 in NY
 Bournemouth Oceanarium (zoo & nature park), Bournemouth
 Castle Park (amusement park), Riverside, CA
 Delfinario (Zoo & nature park), Costa Daurada
 Faunia (zoo and nature park), Madrid, Spain
 Idlewild and Soak Zone (amusement park), East Ligonier, PA
 Kennywood (theme park), West Mifflin, PA
 L’Oceanografic (zoo & nature park) Valencia, Spain
 Lake Compounce (amusement park), Bristol, CT
 Mar del Plata Aquarium (zoo & nature park), Argentina
 Marineland (zoo & nature park), Antibes, France
 Mirabilandia (amusement park), Ravenna, Italy
 Mountain Creek (water park), Vernon Township, NJsea life image tunnel
 Mountasia Family Entertainment Center (Marietta, GA and Dallas, TX)
 Parque de Atracciones (amusement park), Madrid, Spain
 Parque Warner Madrid  (amusement park), Spain
 Ragging Waters (water park), (Sacramento, San Dimas and San Jose)
 Sandcastle (water park), West Homestead, Penn.
 Silver Springs (zoo & nature park), Silver Springs, FL
 Sea Life Park Hawaii (zoo & nature center), Oahu
 Selwo Aventura (zoo & nature park), Estepona, Spain
  Selwo Marina (zoo & nature park), Estepona, Spain
 SpeedZone Family Entertainment Centres (Industry, CA and Dallas, TX)
 Splish Splash (water park), Riverhead, NY
 Story Land (amusement park), Bartlett, NH
 TusenFryd (amusement park), Vinterbro, Norway
 Water Country (water park), Portsmouth, NH
 Wet ‘n Wild (water park) Greensboro, NC and Orlando, FL
 Wild Waters (water park), Silver Springs, FL.
 Zoo Aquarium (zoo & nature park), Madrid, Spain

Busch Entertainment Corporation

  Adventure Island (water park), Tampa, FL
  Aquatica (water park), Orlando, FL
  Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay, FL
  Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA
  SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, FL
  SeaWorld San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
  SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego, CA
  Discovery Cove, Orlando, FL
  Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA
  Water Country USA (water park), Williamsburg, VA

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
 Canada’s Wonderland, Ontario, Canada
 Carowinds, Charlotte, NC
 Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH
 Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown, PA
 Geauga Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom, Cleveland, OH
 Gilroy Gardens Theme Park, Gilroy, CA
 California’s Great America, Santa Clara, CA
 Kings Dominion, Richmond, VA
 Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio
 Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
 Knott’s Soak City, (CA: Orange County, Palm Springs, San Diego)
 Michigan’s Adventure, Muskegon, MI
 Oceans of Fun (water park) Kansas City, MO
 Soak City at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
 Valleyfair!, Shakopee, MN
 Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, MO

OCT Parks

 Happy Valley Beijing, China
 Happy Valley Chengdu, China
 Happy Valley Shanghai, China  9
 Happy Valley, Shenzhen, Chinaclaifornia great america who owns theme parks
 Splendid China/Folk Cultural Village, China
 Window of the World, Shenzhen, China

9  Opened in August 2009.

Compagnie des Alpes (Grevin)

 Aquapark, Switzerland
 Aquarium du val-de-loire, France
 Avonturenpark Hellendoorn, Netherlands
 Bagatelle, Merlimont, France
 Bellewaerde Park, Belgium
 Bioscope, France
 Dolphinarium, Netherlands
 Fort Fun Abenteuerland
 France Miniature, France
 Grand Aquarium, France
 Grévin, Paris, France
 La Mer de Sable. France
 Mini-Chateaux, Ambrose, France
 Parc Asterix, Plailly, France
 Planete Sauvage Safari Adventure, Port Saint-Pere, France
 Pleasurewood Hills, Suffolk- Angleterre
 Walibi Aquitaine, Rocquefort, France
 Walibi Belgium, Belgium
 Walibi Rhone-Alpes, Les Avenieres, France
 Walibi World, Netherlands

Herschend Family Entertainment

 Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ
 Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN
 Dollywood’s Splash Country (water park), Pigeon Forge, TN
 Newport Aquarium, Newport, KY
 Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO
 White Water (water park), Branson, Mo
 Wild Adventures Theme Park, Valdosta, GA


Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

Domestic U.S. parks are owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The Company has a 51 percent effective ownership interest in the operations of Disneyland Paris and a 43 percent ownership interest in the operations of Hong Kong Disneyland. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is the majority shareholder of the Hong Kong park. Tokyo Disney Resort is owned and operated by an unrelated Japanese corporation, the Oriental Land Co., Ltd. of Japan. The Walt Disney Company licenses the operation but has no equity in the two parks.

The Company has a 51 percent effective ownership interest in the operations of Euro Disney and a 43 percent ownership interest in the operations of Hong Kong Disneyland. The Government the Hong Kong (special administrative region) is the majority shareholder of the Hong Kong park. Tokyo Disneyland is owned and operated by an unrelated Japanese corporation, the Oriental Land Co., Ltd. of Japan. The Walt Disney Company licenses the operation but has no equity in the two parks.

Merlin Entertainments Group

The parent company of Merlin is Merlin Entertainments Group Luxembourg Sarl (the “Company”) which is a company incorporated in Luxembourg.  The Company’s equity is as follows: Blackstone – 48. percent; KIRKBI Invest A/S – 22 percent; Dubai International Capital (DIC) – 18 percent; and Management – 12 percent.

The Company is managed in Luxembourg by its Board of Managers (the “board”), which comprises representatives of the principal shareholders and one representative of the Merlin senior management. The Board is the Company’s decision-making body, supported by an operating Executive Team.

Universal Studios Recreation Group

NBC Universal is 80 percent owned by General Electric and Vivendi owns the remaining 20 percent. NBC Universal wholly owns Universal Studios Hollywood.  Universal City Property Management and the Blackstone Group equally own the Universal Orlando Resort. USJ Co. operates the theme park in Japan, (Universal Studios Japan™) under a license by Vivendi Universal Entertainment LLP and other Universal group companies regarding use of intellectual properties.) Earlier this year USJ went through a Tender Offer, which allowed a small group (including The Goldman Sachs Group) to make USJ a wholly owned subsidiary. As a result, USJ shares are no longer traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The city government of Osaka, a major shareholder of USJ, sold its shareholding in USJ under this tender offer.

In September of this year, it was reported that executives at General Electric said they believed that Vivendi, the French conglomerate, will exercise its right later this year to sell its stake in NBC Universal, a move that could lead to NBC Universal’s being spun off into a separate public company in 2010.

Six Flags, Inc.

Six Flags, Inc. owns and operates most of the Six Flags theme, amusement, and water parks.  The Six Flags Georgia park and Six Flags Over Texas park, however, are considered Partnership Parks and in these cases Six Flags owns approximately 29 percent and 52 percent, respectively. The Partnerships own the balance of each. Six Flags New Orleans is located on property leased from the city and has been closed since Hurricane Katrina (2005). After Hurricane Katrina, Six Flags sought to end its lease on the site and the owners claimed that the park remained shut down as long as outstanding claims with the insurance companies remained unsettled. As of September 2009, it was announced that the City of New Orleans ordered Six Flags to pay $3 million and vacate their lease. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is owned by the City of Vallejo and on July 31, 2007, Six Flags acquired a minority interest in this park. 

Parques Reunidos

Parques Reunidos has Candover as its majority shareholder, an investment of the shareholders from the British company, Bourne Leisure.

Busch Entertainment Corporation

On October 7, 2009, Busch Entertainment Corporation, an indirect subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A., which owned and operated ten theme parks in the United States, sold this division to the Blackstone Group.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

All parks are owned by Cedar Fair, LP.

OCT Parks

Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) Enterprises Co. is a Shenzhen-based and State-owned enterprise that develops and operates several public parks such as the Windows of the World and Happy Valley parks.

Compagnie des Alpes (Grévin)

Compagnie des Alpes is a public company that operates about many amusement and leisure parks through its Grévin & Cie subsidiary.

Herschend Family Entertainment

Herschend Family Entertainment owns, operates and manages family-oriented theme parks and attractions across the country.

Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE) owns and operates or is partner in all of its parks. HFE is an operating partner with Dolly Parton in the Dollywood Company, which owns the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park in Tennessee.

This article is also featured in print in the 2010 TEA Annual & Directory published by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

Tracy Kahaner is editor of Blooloop's News Page

See also:
Theme Park Marketing Specialist Gretchen Hofmann Talks Business with Chad Emerson
Amusement parks: Theme Park Operations – A Conversation with Lee Cockerell
Exit Interview: Cindy Gordon moves on from Universal Orlando

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