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$456 million theme park buying spree includes Wild Waves

Wild Waves and Enchanted Village has been sold to a Missouri-based real estate investment firm as its former owner liquidates its many holdings nationwide.
Wild Waves and Enchanted Village has been sold to a Missouri-based real estate investment firm as its former owner liquidates its many holdings nationwide. The Seattle Times

Wild Waves and Enchanted Village, the region’s only major theme park, has been sold to a Missouri real estate investment firm.

Kansas City, Mo.,-based EPR Properties scooped up the 70-acre Federal Way attraction and more than a dozen other theme parks and other properties from Orlando-based investment company CNL Lifestyle Properties earlier this month.

The total price of all the properties was $456 million, although there was no specific price disclosed for Wild Waves.

The park and its vast parking lots have an assessed value of $15.2 million, according to King County records.

Earlier this month, CNL also sold 14 ski resorts including Summit-at-Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass to a different firm, Och-Ziff Real Estate, for $374 million.

The parks involved in the transactions were praised as high-quality assets with strong operators that would immediately deliver value to investors, according to a slide deck posted online earlier this month.

The presentation says EPR is “investing in the experience economy” and that the properties expand “EPR’s investments in recreation.

“Recreation as a percentage of total discretionary spending continues to grow,” the presentation states. “Baby boomers are entering their peak leisure spending years. Millennials (now the largest population segment) are focused on the types of experiences that recreation assets offer.”

It’s unclear whether Wild Waves’ new owners plan to make any changes to the park. EPR, which owns more than 100 movie theaters, theme parks and public charter schools across North America, did not respond to a request for comment.

CNL said it isn’t aware of any planned changes. The company said it sold Wild Waves and all of its remaining properties so it can close the investment fund and cash out its shareholders.

The property has changed hands several times since Enchanted Village opened in 1977. Wild Waves was added in 1984.

Former soccer player Jeff Stock bought what was then known as Enchanted Parks for $8 million from the original owner in 1991, then sold it to Six Flags for $19.3 million in 2000. After a $25 million renovation, Six Flags unloaded Wild Waves and six other parks to CNL for $312 million in 2007. In 2010, CNL parted ways with its park operator, Parc Management, and brought back Stock.

Because of the local weather, the park is only open full time from June through the first week of September, along with some weekends and holiday events.

Wild Waves most recently made headlines in August, when a 32-year-old programmer drowned in one of their pools. An investigation by local and state health officials did not find any violations.

Staff writer Kate Martin contributed to this report.

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