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California company buys Martin’s Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island has been sold to a privately held operating company in California.

Apex Parks Group bought the Grand Island amusement park in a deal announced Saturday. Apex approached the park’s owner, Martin DiPietro, to initiate the sale.

Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray said he was grateful to DiPietro for the more than two decades of fun his company provided the island.

“I am happy for him,” McMurray said. “I am hopeful this marks even more good things to come for Grand Island and Western New York.”


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Apex acquires small- to mid-sized parks with the goal of increasing their profitability. It called Fantasy Island an “ideal” acquisition.

“It’s a nice park, in nice condition, in a great market,” said Al Weber, Jr., Apex CEO. “We like that it’s family focused.”

The company often adds water rides to its theme parks, and Weber was pleased that Fantasy Island already has that in place, he said.

The Martin’s Fantasy Island team will stay on through the summer to help handle the transition.

Apex will assess the park and conduct market research throughout the summer to determine what changes might be made.

It will also analyze the park’s pricing structure. Some parks Apex has acquired have seen ticket price increases, but others have seen ticket prices decrease, Weber said.

The company will also look at “right-sizing” the park’s staffing needs and will examine the condition of the facility. A name change has not yet been discussed.


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Other parks acquired by Apex have undergone makeovers, expansions and have added new rides.

Apex owns 13 family entertainment centers, two water parks and one amusement park resort in California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Indiana. The company, backed by two private equity groups, was formed in 2014 after acquiring 14 parks owned by Palace Entertainment.

Weber formerly helmed other major amusement park corporations as CEO of Six Flags Theme Parks, Palace Entertainment and Paramount Parks.

DiPietro called Apex’s track record in the amusement business “unmatched” and said a sale to the group was the best way to ensure Fantasy Island’s future success.

Fantasy Island opened in 1961. By 1982, it had fallen into bankruptcy, where it was acquired by Charles Wood, then-owner of the Mother Goose-themed StoryTown USA near Albany. Wood sold the park to International Broadcasting Corp. in 1989, but bought it back when IBC entered bankruptcy in 1992. DiPietro bought the park from Wood in 1994.

Today, Fantasy Island has more than 30 rides and water attractions on 75 acres.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The park opened Saturday for the season, on weekends during May. The schedule expands beginning in June.