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Wrather to Buy Auto World Theme Park

November 20, 1986|NANCY YOSHIHARA | Times Staff Writer

Wrather Corp., the Beverly Hills-based operator of the Disneyland Hotel, Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose, said Wednesday that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Auto World, a Flint, Mich., theme park that has been closed since 1985.

The company will acquire the park, a year-round indoor entertainment complex based on the automobile, from the Downtown Redevelopment Authority of Flint. The purchase price includes an $8-million note and up to $2 million of any profits to be shared with the city authority after Wrather recoups its investment, according to Joseph F. Prevratil, president of Wrather Port Properties Ltd., which overseas the Wrather theme parks.

He said the deal is contingent upon both a formal contract being signed and the arranging of $2.5 million in additional financing by the end of the year. The money is to be used to add new entertainment features at Auto World, which opened in 1984 but closed less than a year later.

To Reopen in June

Prevratil added that it was premature at this point to discuss what new features might be added. He did say, however, that automobile-themed attractions will be just part of the park when it reopens next June, rather than the only theme, as they were originally.

Asked why Wrather was interested in the Michigan park, Prevratil replied: "We have a history of developing and operating unusual and specialized attractions; certainly the Queen Mary (in Long Beach) is that. We find a lot of similarity between Long Beach and Flint. Flint is having a major redevelopment of its downtown, and Long Beach is experiencing a renaissance in the downtown area. . . . We feel there is a market for our specialized product in the area (of Flint)."

Auto World never reached its projected attendance level. It was the cornerstone of a downtown revitalization program for Flint, which has been troubled by reduced employment over the years.

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