After six months on the market, Aquaboggan Water Park in Saco still has not found a buyer but will open for business as usual later this month.
The 32-year-old water park has been listed for just under $3 million since December. In addition to the park itself, the property also includes several acres of undeveloped land, according to a commercial real estate broker representing the owner.
“That property has been somewhat underutilized,” said Karen Rich, vice president, broker and partner at Cardente Real Estate in Portland. “There’s a lot of things that you really could do there.”
Aquaboggan, at 980 Portland Road, sits on 40 acres and features a restaurant, ice cream stand, wave pool, in-ground swimming pool, water slides, bumper boats, miniature golf course and outdoor go-kart track. It is one of just two major water parks in Maine, along with Funtown Splashtown USA, also in Saco.
Aquaboggan owners Michael and Peter Kimball purchased the park at a bank auction in late 2003 for $892,500, according to Saco Assessor’s Office documents. Its assessed value for tax purposes is $2.6 million, and the owners are current on their property taxes.
Aquaboggan’s previous owner, John Glessner, had gotten into legal and financial trouble in 2001 when state officials discovered that the park did not have state-mandated liability insurance. That discovery came on the heels of a substantial personal-injury verdict against Aquaboggan and Glessner.
Park patron Andrew Slater filed a lawsuit in 2000 after suffering four broken ribs, abdominal injuries and a ruptured spleen when he crashed into another patron on a water slide. He nearly bled to death as a result of the incident after being released from the hospital prematurely, according to media reports at the time.
The court found that a water-slide attendant had released Slater too soon, causing him to collide with the other patron. It awarded Slater $965,000 in damages.
There have been no serious injuries at the water park under its current ownership.
Rich said that because water parks are specialized businesses that require experience to operate, it can take several months to find a buyer. Owners of a few other water parks have expressed “preliminary interest” in buying the park, she said, but so far no deal has been made.
Rich estimated that it would take until late this year or early next year to sell the park.
The Kimballs did not respond to requests for comment on why they decided to sell.
It is not unusual for water parks to change hands, as the industry has been shifting from one dominated by mom-and-pop owners to an even mix of family, corporate and municipal ownership, according to Aleatha Ezra, director of park member development for the World Waterpark Association in Overland Park, Kansas.
Overall, the industry has experienced steady growth since water parks first began to appear in the late 1970s, she said. There are about 1,200 water parks in North America that serve an average of 82 million visitors a year, Ezra said.
Operating an outdoor water park in a cold-weather state such as Maine can be a challenge because of the relatively short tourist season, she said. Parks in such areas generally have about 90 days to generate all of their revenue for the year.
“That challenge is certainly something all outdoor operators have to think about,” Ezra said.