NIAGARA AMUSEMENT PARK and SPLASH WORLD
Grand Island, NY
Formerly known as Fantasy Island and Martin’s Fantasy Island
Owned By: IB Parks and Entertainment
Park News - (11/4/21) While we don’t know much about what’s going on at the former Fantasy Island theme park, I’m told that a few new rides have already been secured for the new Niagara Amusement Park for when it reopens in 2022. So far we’ve heard that the park has purchased a Scrambler, a Caterpillar, Antique Cars and already has a crew performing work on the Silver Comet.
(8/30/21) Just in time for the end of the summer season, Niagara Amusement Park was given approval to open their Splash World waterpark on Saturday. The water park, left over from the closing of Fantasy Island, will feature a limited number of slides and attractions. The plan right now is to open the waterpark Aug. 28-30, and Sept. 2-6 from 12pm to 7pm. From there it looks like the plan is to switch to a weekends only schedule for the rest of September, though the hours for those dates has yet to be determined. Visit the official website for details.
(7/10/21) According to a local news report the former Fantasy Island park will now be renamed “Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World”.
(7/9/21) According to a local news report the former waterpark from Fantasy Island is making plans to open as ‘Splash World’ sometime in mid to late July 2021 if all goes well. Currently the new park owners are working on needed repairs and restoration projects needed to reopen the waterpark, as well as plans to hire lifeguards and staff before they can reopen.
(6/27/21) The local news talked with Gene Staples about what he has planned for the former Fantasy Island park site now that he is taking control of it. Note that I said it was the former Fantasy Island site, as Gene Staples says that a brand new name and all new attractions are being planned for the site, and hopefully by next month they hope to be able to open the waterpark once again.
Staples isn’t ready to reveal the new name yet, but says he doesn't want any confusion with another Fantasy Island park in New Jersey, so this new name will better represent the Western New York region. Currently Staples says he is working with ride brokers to come up with a new wave of attractions for the park in 2022, with the goal of bring in rides good for guests of all ages to enjoy from around the world. He was quick to criticize that the former park’s rides, which he described as being a collection of ‘carnival rides’ from different eras that really “didn’t fit the park”. The goal now is to bring in a new collection of rides that will look like they belong there and fit under the new branding. The new brand hopes to offer a “classic, vintage amusement park that has the lights, the smells, the sounds, the feel that you’re stepping into a timeless relic”. The only other hint about future attractions for the park is he did confirm that the park will open with a new roller coaster that will be considered a “major attraction” for the new park.
(6/12/21) According to the local news Gene Staples is moving forward with plans to lease the former Fantasy Island amusement park in Grand Island, to clean up the site and bring it back to life as a new amusement park in the future. While the amusement park itself wont be ready until at least Summer 2022, the new team is hoping that they can possibly get the existing waterpark on site back up and running for guests sometime this July if all goes well.
Right now there is just a lot of clean-up work to do, along with securing the park borders and bringing on security to watch over the property starting this week. Unfortunately, once the park closed down a variety of people began to venture onto the property who have essentially kicked-down every door and broken every window on the property, all of which now has to be fixed.
(5/14/21) While Fantasy Island was closed last year and had almost everything of value sold at auction to pay off debts, apparently Gene Staples has some meetings set up to investigate the idea of reopening the park. Gene Staples name has been making quite a few headlines over the past year, especially when it comes to saving dying amusement parks. He first bought and saved Indiana Beach in early 2020, in time to save the park from the auction block that ravaged sister park, Fantasy Island. Then earlier this year it was announced that he just bought the closed Clementon Lake Park at auction.
Now it seems Gene has cast his gaze on Fantasy Island, and he will be coming into town on Friday to meet with officials and the property owner to talk about a possible deal. Unlike his first two purchases, reviving Fantasy Island is going to take a lot more time, effort and money. The major difference is that Indiana Beach was being prepared to open for the 2020 season shortly before the park was put up for sale by Apex Parks Group, the previous owners. Clementon Lake had been running through to 2019, and only failed to open in 2020 before being put up for auction in early 2021. Fantasy Island however closed for the season in 2019, only for Apex to default on the property in early 2020, causing it to go through the auction process where almost everything of value was sold off. As I understand it, the Silver Comet wooden coaster, a Ferris wheel and a few old water slides are about the only attractions left standing, and in the case of the Silver Comet, we had heard it said that the coaster’s trains may have even been sold off during the auction.
So if Fantasy Island is bought for the purpose of saving the park, it will require millions of dollars in new capital to rebuild the park once again to bring in an army of all new rides and attractions, as well as replace all the various pieces of infrastructure that was sold off, like fast food kitchens, office equipment, merchandise, admissions equipment, and just about anything and everything the various departments will need to operate on a daily basis: from push brooms to trash cans to gardening equipment and more.
While I hate to see a park go under, I would also hate to see this new amusement park company suffer from the mistake of trying to expand too fast out of fear of missing an opportunity to save just one more park. In this case however, there really isn’t much of a park left to save at this point in time, and the cost of doing so could put the long term future of Indiana Beach and Clementon Park at risk. Of course, this is simply speculation on my part, as we really have no idea just how deep Gene Staples’ pockets really are, and if money is not an issue here, then by all means save Fantasy Island too.
I just keep having flashbacks of how Kent Buescher. the owner of Wild Adventures in Georgia, built up his park and then jumped at the chance to save Cypress Gardens in Florida in 2004. Shortly after investing millions to save and upgrade that park, Cypress Gardens was devastated by a hurricane that resulted in Buescher losing both parks as part of the bankruptcy process.