Herschend to manage Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake

Herschend Family Entertainment has announced a new management deal with two amusement parks. Denver’s Elitch Gardens and Buffalo’s Darien Lake will now be managed by the Atlanta-based amusement park and entertainment attraction operator.

Herschend is the nation’s largest family-owned theme park corporation. It currently owns and operates Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, and Wild Adventures in Valdosta, GA. The company also operates a wide range of other attractions from water parks to aquariums to Georgia’s Stone Mountain park. While Herschend did not purchase the two parks from current owner CNL Properties, under the agreement Herschend will assume the day-to-day management of both parks.

This is probably good news as I found the guest experience at Dollywood top notch. The staff was very friendly and the ride operation seemed pretty efficient. I’ve been to Darien Lake a few times and I found it to be a decent park overall. However, the roller coaster operation left a bit to be desired. The park’s wooden coaster, Predator, delivered one of the most rough and punishing rides of my life. Hopefully, under Herschend’s management both parks will get a boost in an all around improved guest experience.