| Bessemer -- The theme park Alabama Adventure has new owners. Adrenaline Family Entertainment purchased the park's property for an undisclosed amount. Southland Entertainment bought the park five years ago for a fraction of what it cost to build, but will continue to hold on to adjoining land that it hopes to develop. Oklahoma-based Adrenaline is part of an investment firm and owns another park in suburban Philadelphia.
The brainchild of then-Fairfield Mayor Larry Langford, Alabama Adventure was built as VisionLand in 1997 with the cooperation of 11 western-area cities including Birmingham, that put up money toward $65 million in bonds (cost overruns added millions to the total). It opened in 1998, filed for bankruptcy a few years later and was sold to Southland in 2003 for $ 5.25 million. Southland spent millions expanding the water park and adding rides and attractions. Since, the company says the park has enjoyed record attendance.
WBHM's Steve Chiotakis spoke with Gary Slade, the Editor and Publisher of Amusement Today magazine about the impact the sale will have on employees and whether -- given today's sour economy -- it's a good time to be in the theme park business.
~Steve Chiotakis, May 16, 2008