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Carwardine Parks is an amusement parks & leisure property company headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, U.S., and founded in 1980 by its longtime CEO Christopher R. Carwardine. It is currently a subsidiary of Brazilian conglomerate Grupo Wágner. It had been owned by The Mills Corporation from 1998 to 2007 when it was sold to Grupo Wágner as Mills became apart of Simon Property Group.

Carwardine, aside from building its own parks such as Carwardine Colony and The World of Redwall, has been known for buying & turning around struggling theme parks. Christopher's 2016 biography reflects this, titled "Resurrecting America's Theme Parks" and featuring anecdotes and other stories regarding the company's projects and acquisitions.

History

The first park, Carwardine Colony, was planned in the mid-to-late-1970s by regional real estate mogul Christopher R. Carwardine after he bought a disused landfill known locally as the "Trash Heap from Hell". During the oil crisis, Christopher decided to add the focus of a large theme park that wasn't far away from the beaches of Virginia.

After the success of the first park, the company was founded in August of 1980.

In 1995, Jeffery Katzenberg, after being fired from Disney, was made Chairman and President to reinvigorate the company. He was resigned in 2002 due to a reorganization in the company.

During the Mills Corporation's ownership of Carwardine Parks, they added in some parks some non-anchor stores that were normally found inside malls to some of the parks. They also made the PBS Kids Neighborhood brand the kids area of most Carwardine Parks in the United States. Frank Oz was appointed Multimedia Director of Dept. 2 Productions to produce CyberStar-esque videos for the new live shows.

Mobile cameras on rides without a permit from the Carwardine Video Program were banned in 2000, as CVP members (among them: Theme Park Review, The Theme Park Crew, TUBERIDES, CoasterForce, Coaster Studios, Koaster Kids, etc.) have to follow a strict set of rules (1. You must have a wrist attachment. 2. Waterproof cameras required for waterpark use. 3. Camera glasses are allowed in most cases. 4. Spy cameras are banned in most cases. 5. You must pay $10 a year for the Video Program), however, in 2011 the ban was relaxed for people with mobile phones on select attractions (Train rides, Coasters that are below 100ft and don't go upside down, and all floored Enterprises/Rangers (The floorless variants still ban phones, due to a lack of a cage).

In 2015, Dept. 2 Productions mostly moved from Virginia Beach's Airport Executive Center into a two floor, 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) facility in the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport industrial park. Former Shen Yun performance director Lee Kisfaludi (who's defection from the organization in 2018 led him to receive the Worcester Beacon Prize for Freedom) was hired as executive director of Dept. 2 Productions in 2019, with Jeremy Vallejos retained as president of Dept. 2.

In 2020, shortly after becoming CEO, Wayne Carwardine II announced a project entitled Plan 2020 to reinvigorate the company and it's properties again (with The Old Village of Providence and Mount Amazement named as two of the parks to undergo a heavy "reinvention"). This will include the creation of a spinoff real estate investment trust to invest in amusement parks, theaters, ski resorts, sports venues, and charter schools and to sub-contract some properties' operation. The company is set to move from the NYSE to NASDAQ.

After the George Floyd riots, the parks policies have been updated once again, with metal detectors added at all parks, and protesting not allowed on all of the parks property and not just Alabama's Backyard.

Licenses in the parks

Current

  • The Andy Griffith Show & Mayberry R.F.D. (since 1993)
  • Angelina Ballerina (since 2003)
  • Animorphs (since 1998)
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks (since 2000; bought the licenses from Premier Parks, since Six Flags won't use the license)
  • Barney & Friends (since 1994; license shared with Universal Parks & Resorts)
  • Blazing Dragons (since 1997)
  • Care Bears (since 1987)
  • Devo (since 2005)
  • Dragon Tales (since 2003)
  • Doctor Who (since 2006)
  • Eckhart (since 2003)
  • El Chavo (since 2016)
  • Franklin (since 2000)
  • Garfield (since 1997; license shared with Silverwood Theme Park)
  • The Get Along Gang (since 1987)
  • Goosebumps (since 1996)
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (since 1993)
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole (since 2013)
  • Hi-5 (since 2003)
  • Hip Hop Harry (since 2006)
  • Homestar Runner (since 2017)
  • Inspector Gadget (since 1986)
  • Jim Henson properties (since 2000; license shared with Six Flags for Jim Henson's MuppetWorld)
  • LazyTown (since 2004)
  • Little Bear (since 2000)
  • Li'l Abner (since 1994) (Current at Dogpatch USA; Semi-Current at all other parks)
  • Matlock (since 1993)
  • Mega Man (since 1995)
  • Minecraft (since 2012; Licenses bought from Notch himself back in September 2011)
  • Mole Miner (since 2003)
  • The Muppets (since 2000; license shared with Six Flags for Jim Henson's MuppetWorld and Disney)
  • Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend (since 1999)
  • NFL (since 2017; US parks only)
  • Nickelodeon properties (since 2002; license shared with Triple Five Group, Village Roadshow Theme Parks, Universal Parks & Resorts, Sunway Group, and Blackpool Pleasure Beach)
  • Nintendo (since 1990; licenses now halved by both Carwardine and Universal, meaning that they both have licenses to Nintendo, but can't have the same attractions)
  • Pee-wee Herman (since 2011)
  • Power Rangers (1994-2002; since 2013)
  • The Raccoons (since 2001; license shared with Six Flags for Six Flags Winnipeg)
  • The Red Green Show (since 2000)
  • Redwall (since 2000; license shared with the following companies: Renald-Zanni Entertainment & The Redwall Abbey Company Ltd. for live shows and character appearances at independent parks such as York's Wild Kingdom and Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Universal Parks & Resorts for Universal Studios Paris, and Latikuu Edacra for Latikuu Park)
  • Richard Scarry (since 1990)
  • ROBLOX (since 2017)
  • Transformers (since 1986; license shared with Universal Parks & Resorts; Carwardine is mostly restricted to using elements from G1 due to Universal using elements from the movies)
  • The Rock-afire Explosion (since 1990)
  • Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat (since 2003)
  • Sailor Moon (since 2018)
  • The Secret of NIMH (since 1995; license shared with Disney for Disney's Studio Park in Australia)
  • Shining Time Station/Thomas and Friends (1994-2007 in all parks, since 2019 in some parks; license shared with Kennywood Entertainment Company)
  • Silverwing (since 2003)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (since 1995)
  • Team Fortress 2 (since 2012)
  • The Three Stooges (since 1992)
  • Toad Patrol (since 2003)
  • VeggieTales (since 1998)
  • Warrior Cats (since 2004; license shared with Renald-Zanni Entertainment for live shows and character appearances at independent parks such as York's Wild Kingdom and Arnolds Park Amusement Park)
  • Watership Down (since 2000)
  • Wings of Fire (since 2018)
  • The Wiggles (since 2013)

Semi-current

These licenses don't have their own lands or attractions anymore, but the characters still wander around the park, appear in parades, have stage shows, and have meet & greet areas.

  • All Dogs Go to Heaven (since 1995)
  • Anatole (since 2000)
  • Big Bad Beetleborgs (1997-2002; since 2013)
  • Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats (since 1986)
  • McDonald's/McDonaldland (since 1989, mostly just the main characters of the franchise, but Mac Tonight did appear as an animatronic in Mayberry USA until a 2002 renovation that made the restaurant more "hometown", Freestyle Adventure City has a Mac Tonight animatronic in their McDonald's, which is a hand me down from a McDonald's in Atlanta licensed out to the Carwardine family)
  • Mortal Kombat (since 1996)
  • Noddy (since 1998)
  • Simsala Grimm (since 2004)
  • Strawberry Shortcake (since 1987)
  • Wunderkind Little Amadeus (since 2009)

Former

  • American Eagle Outfitters (2006-2011; AEO operated stores in some parks before closing the in park American Eagle and 77 Kids stores due to the stores being under performing and that resulted in American Eagle Outfitters terminating their licensing agreement with Carwardine)
  • DreamWorks (1995-2007; lost the rights due to Grupo Wagner buying out the parks)
  • LEGO (1995-2005; gradually toned down their usage of the license following Legoland California's opening before losing the licensing rights after Merlin Entertainments bought the Legoland chain)
  • Marvel Comics (1993-1998; lost the licensing rights to Universal Studios in 1998)
  • Masked Rider (1995-2002)
  • Neale Godfrey's Money Town (1996-1999)
  • PBS Kids (1999-2007; lost the licensing rights due to various disagreements; Carwardine is planning to regain the license as part of Plan 2020)
  • Sesame Street (1989-2007; license shared with Anheuser-Busch; lost the licensing rights along with those for PBS Kids due to various disagreements; Carwardine are currently in talks with Sesame Workshop to share the license with SeaWorld Entertainment)
  • The Simpsons (1990-2007; licenses lost to Universal Studios)
  • Tony Hawk (2000-2006; lost the licensing rights to Six Flags)
  • Toys "R" Us (2001-2017; lost the licensing right due to the store chain's bankruptcy.)
  • VR Troopers (1995-2002)

Canceled

Properties

Current theme parks

CarwardineUS

"You Can't Go on Any Horizontal Highway Without Crossing A Carwardine Park"

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Action Park & New Jersey's Backyard Vernon Township, New Jersey, U.S. 1978 2016 Purchase price $17M. Purchased from the Mulvihil Family.
Akron Acres Akron, Ohio, U.S. 1924 1990 Often bundled together with Geauga Lake. Purchase Price $6M.
Alabama's Backyard Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. 1995 2002 Purchase price $20M.
Alaska Frontier Park Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. 1995 - New-build indoor theme park. Formerly known as "Marvel Frontier Park" [1995-1998].
Albuquerque Adventure City Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. 1998 - New-build theme park.
Andy Griffith's Mayberry U.S.A. Warren County, North Carolina, U.S. 1993 - New-build theme park
Arizona's Backyard Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S. 1995 2000 Bought from TechEruo, formerly TechEruo's Blazing Acres. Purchased for $10M.
AstroWorld Houston, Texas, U.S. 1968 2006 Purchase price $20M.
Billings' Wild Kingdom Billings, Montana, U.S. 1940 1982 Purchase price $4M.
Brilliance Port Beaufort, North Carolina, U.S. 1972 1999 Purchase price $15M.
Boblo Island Amusement Park Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada 1898 1993 Purchase price $14M.
Boston Funplex Boston, Masachusetts, U.S. 1999 2011 Purchase price $13M.
Indoor theme park similar to the annual I-X Indoor Amusement Park event in Ohio.
Canada's Adventure Acres Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 1964 1985 Purchase price approx. $8M.
Canada's Opryland Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada 1985 1996 Purchase price $5M.
Capital Adventure Acres Washington, D.C., U.S. 1999 - New-build theme park
Carwardine Colony Newport News, Virginia, U.S. 1980 - New-build theme park. Flagship park of the chain.
Carwardine Corners Yonkers, New York, U.S. 1983 - New-build theme park.
Carwardine's Adventure Acres Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. 1988 - New-build theme park. First park in the chain to use the "Adventure Acres" moniker. Often credited as being America's first indoor amusement park.
Celebration City Branson, Missouri, U.S. 2003 2010 Purchase price $2M.
Carwardine's Dubailand Adventure Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2012 - New-build theme park.
Centerpoint Park Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada 1969 1993 Described as "Niagara Falls' Coney Island" and as a New York counterpart to Boblo Island. Often bundled together with Darien Lake. Purchase price $1M.
Cherokee Park Qualla Boundary, Cherokee, North Carolina, U.S. 2003 - New-build theme park. Co-owned with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Chippewa Lake Park Chippewa Lake, Ohio, U.S. 1878 1982 First park purchased by Carwardine. Purchase price $900,000, only park bought by the company that costed less than a million dollars to buy.
Colorado Canyon Evergreen, Colorado, U.S. 1999 - New-build theme park. Replacement for the original Colorado Canyon.
Darien Lake Darien Center, New York, U.S. 1981 2007 Purchased as part of a package deal with Six Flags.
Disney-Carwardine Studios Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. 1991 - New-build theme park. Owned in part with Disney.
Dogpatch USA Marble Falls, Arkansas, U.S. 1968 2019 Carwardine had previously leased the park from and operated it on behalf of Ford Carr (1994-2005), Pruett Nance (2005-2014), and Bud Pelsor (2014-2019) before buying it outright in 2019. Purchase price $6M.
Durango Park El Paso, Texas, U.S. 2015 - New-build theme park.
Dylan Park & Redwall Abbey Burlington, New Jersey, U.S. 1918 1993 Purchase price $20M.
Entertainment Galaxy Euclid Square Mall, Euclid, Ohio, U.S. 2018 - New-build theme park.
Entertainment Park Down Under Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1986 - New-build theme park, formerly known as Adventure City Down Under until 2012 when a dispute from Grupo Wagner made the park change name.
Freestyle Adventure Acres Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. 2008 2010 Purchase price $17M.
Geauga Lake Geauga County, Ohio, U.S. 1887 2007 Purchase price $15M.
Great Escape Queensbury, New York, U.S. 1954 2007 Purchased as part of a package deal with Six Flags.
Hawaii Luna Park Wahiawa, Hawaii, U.S. 1950 1989 Purchase price $17M.
Henlopen Playland Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, U.S. 1925 1998 Purchase price $19M.
Holy Land Park Roswell, Georgia, U.S. 2008 - New-build theme park.
Only religious-themed park owned by Carwardine.
Joyland Amusement Park Wichita, Kansas, U.S. 1949 2007 Purchase price $17M.
Kid's World Long Branch, New Jersey, U.S. 1990 - New-build theme park. Replacement of the original Kid's World, but is located mostly on the replacement pier to allow space for Pier Village
La Cité Incroyable Saint-Alban, Quebec, Canada 1979 2001 Purchase price $16M.
Louisiana Jazzland New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. 2000 (original)
2018 (reopening)
2015 Purchase price $1M. Technically "bought" for $10M, but TechEruo's sponsorship made TechEruo pay $9M of the cost.
Carwardine's Magic Planet Chicago, Illinois, U.S. 2003 - New-build theme park.
Maple Leaf Playland Surrey, British Columbia, Canada 1985 2001 Purchase price $11M.
Mount Amazement Great Barrington, Massachusetts, U.S. 2003 - New-build theme park.
New Mexico's Backyard Roswell, New Mexico, U.S. 2003 - New-build theme park.
New Roseland Park Canandaigua, New York U.S. 2000 - New-build theme park.
The Old Village of Providence Scituate, Rhode Island, U.S. 1960 1998 Purchase price $1 million.
Originally just a living museum depiciting life in the 1700s/1800s before Carwardine added some amusement rides and roller coasters to supplement the living museum experience.
Omaha Luna Park Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. 1916 1998 Purchase price $20M.
Opryland Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. 2003 - New-build theme park. Not to be confused with the original park
Parque Aventura de México Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico 1999 - New-build theme park. Called "The Adventure Park of Mexico" on the English Carwardine Parks website.
Phelworth Mining Site USA Sturbridge, Massachusetts, U.S. 2005 - New-build theme park.
Rose Island Charlestown, Indiana, U.S. 1981 - New-build theme park, situated on the site of the original Rose Island on Fourteen Mile Creek. The site is currenly leased from Clark County and is part of Charlestown State Park.
Rose Park Thomasville, Georgia, U.S. 1927 1983 Purchase price approx. $20M.
Saudi Springs 1984 2003 Purchase price $2M.
Screamin' Safari Angola, Indiana, U.S. 1956 2009 Purchase price $4M. Formerly known as Fun Spot Amusement Park & Zoo.
Stoogeland Theem Park Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S. 1992 - New-build theme park.
Super Space Land Luna City, Andere 2008 - New-build theme park.
Tijuana's Adventure Acres - Ciudad de Aventura Tijuana Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico 1997 - New-build theme park.
Tokyo Carwardine Colony Akiruno, Tokyo, Japan 1995 - New-build theme park.
Utah's Backyard Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. 2013 - New-build theme park.
Veroland Vero Beach, Florida, U.S. 2004 - New-build theme park.
Formerly known as "PBS Kids Neighborhood" from 2004-2007.
Warriors Woods Rome, Georgia, U.S. 2017 - New-build theme park.
The World of Watership Down Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. 2005 - New-build theme park.
Whalom Park Lunenburg, Massachusetts, U.S. 1893 2001 Purchase price $8M.
Williams Grove Amusement Park Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 1850 2007 Purchase Price $7M.
The World of Redwall Austin, Texas, U.S. 2004 - New-build theme park.
World of Redwall Europe Halsall, Lancashire, England, U.K. 2015 - New-build theme park.
First Carwardine park in the United Kingdom.
Zábava Park Nitra, Slovakia 1959 1990 Purchased for US$5M from the Czechoslovakian government.

Current water parks

Does not include water parks located in amusement parks

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes
Alaska Springs Indoor Waterpark Anchorage, Alaska 2005 - New-build waterpark. Near Alaska Frontier Park.
Blazing Springs Flagstaff, Arizona 1996 2000 Bought from TechEruo in 2000, formerly TechEruo's Blazing Springs.
Carwardine Canyon Tulsa, Oklahoma 1984 - Carwardine's first attempt at a waterpark, often considered the "Disneyland of Waterparks" for it's outrageous theming.
Oakwood Lake Resort Manteca, California 1974 2004 Was derelict and abandoned for the entire 2003 season.
Stoogeland Nitwit Springs Nashua, New Hampshire 2008 - New-build water park. Located on the same property as Stoogeland Theem Park.
Water Country Portsmouth, New Hampshire 1984 2010 Bought in 2010, has shuttle tram/bus rides to Stoogeland Theem Park on some days.

Current fairs

Current venues

Current other properties

Upcoming parks

Former/upcoming cruise ships

The cruise line was "put on hold" in 2020 due to Coronavirus concerns. Carwardine has a master plan for restarting cruise line operations once the pandemic has passed, including debuting entirely new ships called "neo *greek letter*" (ex. Carwardine neoAlpha) to accompany the existing fleet.

Former theme parks

Former other properties

Restaurant franchises in the parks

Most of the parks have one of these restaurant franchises. The soft drink brand who's products are served depends on the park (most Carwardine Parks serve Pepsi, others serve Coca-Cola: this is because Carwardine's soda contract is with Pepsi, however some of their acquired parks still serve Coca-Cola and run under their contract)

Passports

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