Pacific Park, the brightly lighted amusement park on Santa Monica Pier that has become an international symbol of Southern California, has been acquired for $34 million by a Florida real estate trust.
CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc. said Thursday that it bought Pacific Park and a ground lease for the two-acre property from Santa Monica Amusements, a group of investors who built the park and opened the first phase in 1996.
FOR THE RECORD:
Pacific Park: An article in the Jan. 7 Business section about the sale of Pacific Park, the amusement park on Santa Monica Pier, said Curt Caffey was the managing director of CNL Lifestyle Properties. In fact, Caffey is managing director of CNL Lifestyle Co., which manages attractions —including Pacific Park -- for CNL Lifestyle Properties.
The park will continue to be run by Santa Monica Amusements, which operates Pacific Park as a tenant. With its Ferris wheel — billed as the only solar-powered one in the world — and other rides visible high above the waves, the park is an emblem of the region, said Curt Caffey managing director of CNL Lifestyle Properties.
"You can't watch a morning newscast or television show without a pan of the pier," Caffey said.
CNL Lifestyle of Orlando, Fla., owns other entertainment venues in Southern California including Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, Valencia Country Club and Ventura Isle Marina. The company hopes Pacific Park, which draws more than 4 million visitors a year, will stay popular even if times are hard, Caffey said.
"People are not going to give up on time to spend with their families," he said.
Pacific Park, which has no admission charge, grossed nearly $20 million last year from rides, games, food and concessions, General Manager Mary Ann Powell said. The most popular attraction is the Ferris wheel covered with thousands of vivid LED-lights that rises 130 feet above the ocean, followed by the West Coaster roller coaster, she said.
Wear and tear and salt air make the park expensive to operate, however. The Ferris wheel was replaced in 2008 for $1.5 million and it costs more than $200,000 a year just to keep the place freshly painted, Powell said.
"It's a very capital-intensive environment," she said.