Oahu water park sold


POSTED: Friday, May 08, 2009

Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park in Kapolei has been acquired by CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc., a Florida-based real estate investment trust, and will be re-branded this summer as Wet 'n' Wild Hawaii.






» New Name: Wet 'n' Wild Hawaii*


» New owner: Florida-based CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc.


» Operator: Australia-based Village Roadshow Ltd.


» Deal: $29 million sale leaseback


» Park Size: 29 acres


» Number of employees: 250 peak, 150 offseason


* Rebranding to occur this summer


It's the first plunge into Hawaii real estate for CNL Lifestyle Properties, which will pay Village Roadshow Ltd. $29 million over three years to complete the deal. Village Roadshow, which bought the park for $27 million in 2008 and is known as one of the largest theme park operators in Australia, will continue to operate it for CNL Lifestyle Properties under a 20-year lease agreement.

“;This is purely a financing deal,”; said Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park General Manager Takuya Ohki. “;We (Village Roadshow) sold the assets to get the capital money to expand. We are building a $30 million water park in Phoenix, Ariz., and we plan on putting more money into Hawaii.”;

Operations at the 29-acre park will not change as a result of the transaction, which was more than three years in the making, said Byron Carlock, president and chief executive of CNL Lifestyle Properties.

“;This is the first time that we have partnered with Village Roadshow, but we have been cultivating a relationship with them for many years,”; Carlock said. “;We were looking for a vibrant operating partner with which to grow our portfolio of properties.”;

The water park, which was built for $14 million and opened in 1999, grew under Village Roadshow, an international entertainment and media company. The company, which is best known in the United States for its Los Angeles-based movie production business, also owns and operates Sea World , Wet 'n' Wild Water World and Warner Bros. Movie World.

Since its opening, five new attractions have been added to the park. Recent additions included the Tornado ride and Island Adventure Golf, Ohki said.

“;We spent $3 million last year on the Tornado, and we plan to spend more than that this year,”; he said. “;Two additional killer-category slides are under construction that will open in June. And there's more to come.”;

Beefing up park entertainment is a priority, he said.

“;We're an entertainment company, so in addition to water parks we also have other attractions, movie theaters, entertainment complexes and zoos,”; Ohki said. “;You could see some of these options as we continue with our plans to transition into a world-class facility.”;

Pleasant Holidays LLC, Hawaii's largest wholesaler, has begun marketing packages under the new brand, said Jack E. Richards, Pleasant's president and chief executive.

“;Wet 'n' Wild is a much more powerful name because it has lots of brand equity,”; Richards said. “;This will be a very positive change for Hawaii's activities and attractions.”;

Including Hawaiian Waters, CNL Lifestyle Properties owns 25 attractions, including seven former Six Flags, making it one of the largest regional theme park owners in the U.S. The opportunity to partner with Village Roadshow and enter the fast-growing West Oahu regional market drew CNL Lifestyle Properties to Hawaii, Carlock said.

“;We like affordable regional destinations in this economy,”; he said, adding that the company found Village Roadshow's reputation as a theme park operator and its vision for Hawaii appealing.

Despite the downturn in Hawaii's economy, Carlock said CNL Lifestyle Properties is bullish on the state's long-term potential and will continue to look for other assets in the isles.

“;How can you not be bullish about Hawaii in the long term? It's one of the most beautiful states in the union, with timeless appeal,”; he said. “;We've invested there before and hope to continue investing in that state.”;

While the most recent transaction represents the first time that CNL Lifestyle Properties has entered Hawaii, CNL Hotels and Resorts, which is affiliated with the same holding company, owned the Grand Wailea in the mid-2000s before selling it to Morgan Stanley, Carlock said.