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Magic Springs in Arkansas to close dry park?

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Post February 14th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Based on what I've been reading over the internet, it sounds like Magic Springs & Crystal Falls in Hot Springs, Arkansas may be looking to permanently close the dry ride side of the park and become strictly a water park. In short, Magic Springs might be getting Geauga Laked.
Park News - (2/9/16) One of our readers drove by Magic Springs the other day and confirmed that, as rumored, Dr. Deans Rocket Machine is either down, or in the process of coming down, as it was no longer visible from the road. So for those keeping track, the park will now feature two less rides than before for the 2016 season with the removal of Dr. Dean’s Rocket Machine and Wild Thang. Meanwhile, nothing new at all (thus far) has been reported to be coming to the park for 2016 either, which is starting to make the park’s fans wonder about the future of the park. After all, it was only a couple of years ago when the park announced they had sold off their newest coaster (X Coaster) to a new owner, only to discover that the coaster had been mostly welded together, rather than simply bolted together, which would make the job of taking it apart with the intention to rebuild it elsewhere a far more difficult situation than it is worth, so it remains at Magic Springs.
While I have received no information (official or unofficial) so far from anyone with true insight into what the park’s management has in store for the park, it seems clear to me that the park’s future will be primarily as a waterpark destination and not as a mixed amusement park / waterpark combo. We’ve seen this sort of evolution happen elsewhere in the south, specifically over at Alabama Adventure which went from being a mostly amusement park with a small waterpark, to just being a waterpark only (Alabama Splash Adventure) for several years. Only now, under new ownership, is Alabama Splash Adventure, in the early process of starting to add hard rides back to the park with last year’s reopening of the Rampage roller coaster.
Meanwhile Magic Springs seems to be headed towards that same kind of concept, that will see the park transformed into being primarily a waterpark, but with a few dry rides, coasters and upcharge attractions thrown in for a mixture. The park’s own history of expansion also backs up this theory over the past decade, with the last big steel ride added being X Coaster back in 2006. Every other attraction added since then has either been an upcharge attraction (SkyShark in 2014) or an addition to the waterpark: Crystal Lagoon (2007), Rapid Falls Raceway (2008), Boogie Blast (2010) and Splash Island (2013).
So far the only rumor about the park’s next expansion will be for another waterpark project to take up the site of Dr. Deans and Wild Thang. So far my theory is looking fairly solid.

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This park is one of a few dozen that I keep my eye on, I visited it in 2014 and it's on the list for a revisit this year. I have watched it since it reopened in 2001.

For those of you who haven't visited this park it is essentially built on a hill, just down the hill from the entrance is the water park, and down the hill towards the right is a typical loop that takes you around a lake where all of the rides are. When I first visited this park back in 2001 it had this quiet southern charm about it. It only had two custom rides, Arkansas Twister, and a log flume.

The rest of the attractions were cookie cutter catalog attractions. I remember the marquee attraction at the time being Dr Deans Free Fall machine, which I thought was a joke at the time because it was the smallest S & S tower I had ever seen. It wasn't the rides that made the park at that time though, it was the atmosphere and southern charm of this small park built around the lake. Each year they made some changes and from my perspective things really didn't start to go down hill with then place until after X-Coaster and The Gauntlet were installed. It seemed like for every ride that was added in the dry portion of the park 1.5 were added in the water park.

The season PARC Management came in there was a noticeable detraction in the atmosphere. It went from being this charming amusement park by the lake to this heavily revenue optimized money machine. I noticed that the food and quality of service went down, the number of up sales and drives for souvenir cups, and more stalls and stands then could probably be supported by the attendance were installed. When the aggressive games barkers came in and it felt less like a park and more like a traveling fair setup shop next to a lake. The last few attractions added just a few years before the area was hit very hard by the rescission of the late 2000s.

I think they did themselves a disservice by choosing to install two major attractions almost back to back with none of them being a caliber high enough to attract worldly attendance. When you look at their closest competitors, West you got SFOT, North is St. Louis, North East is Dollywood, Further East is SFOG. They all have unique things they bring to the game. You want to go to those parks because of the variety of attractions they offer. When you look at this park, you are really only considering because its the only trip you can afford or it's the closest thing you want to go to. It's appealing on the regional factor, but only so far as the boundaries of that region do not present better closer and arguably better opportunities for ride based entertainment.

During the recession water parks became a thing. It's because they have low barriers to entry, require a minimal amount of recurring operating expenses, and generate good returns on investment. The problem is the micro water park trend in some parts of the country is getting out of hand. One company in Texas has built so many micro water parks that you can practically swim from Frisco (North of Dallas) to Austin and never have to get out of the water. Plus every single HOA wants to get in on the game too. So whats going to happen is an over saturated market where customers choose their favorites and the rest slowly wither away until some major sanitary equipment investment kills them off. Comparing Alabama Splash Adventure to Magic Springs is like comparing Pacific Park to Knotts Berry Farm. Not even in the same class.

Alabama Splash Adventure is probably a smaller version of what Magic Springs / Crystal Falls was in 2001. Everyone is rooting for Dan to turn that place around, frankly I look forward to following his park on the same journey. I just hope that it doesn't follow the same path.

Post February 15th, 2016, 12:32 pm

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Sounds like the exact same problem Geagua lake had. Bad management expanding to quickly.
All hail your great Arrow Dynamics overlords.

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^ :sad:

This made me so sad that the abandoned park with "forgotten" footers looks like a graveyard.
-- I was happy to be with NL1 - [:')] --

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