Coalition announces plans for reopening Fantasy Island

Grand Island

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — A coalition of people collectively working together as Empire Adventures announced their plan to partner with STORE Capital Real Estate Investment Trust Company in reopening Fantasy Island.

STORE Capital, a trust company located in Arizona, is the current owner of the Fantasy Island property. They recently proposed a 15-year lease of the property, which became a letter of intent.

That letter is awaiting approval from both STORE Capital and Empire Adventures.

The Empire Adventures coalition is being led by local businessman Bill Baldwin and Connecticut businessman George Marenna Jr., who serves as president of Marenna Amusements.

Baldwin worked at Fantasy Island for nearly 30 years, and hopes to have the park open again next May.

“In February, when Apex Park Group of California suddenly announced that they were permanently closing Fantasy Island and selling off the rides and attractions, I immediately began meeting with other people who had worked at the park to figure out how we could bring it back under local ownership,” Baldwin said. “Little did I realize the impact our plans would have on the community. Since word of our project has spread, Western New Yorkers have been reaching out and offering help in so many ways.”

Marenna, who Empire Adventures described as “a longtime fan of Fantasy Island,” has offered to sell Empire 14 rides and attractions, including a 24-horse vintage carousel.

“Fantasy Island was one of those special parks that appealed to all ages and gave families a great place to be together and have fun,” Marenna said. “I love this place and would love to see it come back. That’s why I have joined with this group because they’re dedicated to making it happen.”

Also joining in the effort to reopen Fantasy Island are Flying Bison Brewing Company owner Tim Herzog, Former Grand Island Deputy Supervisor Jim Sharpe, Grand Island Chamber of Commerce President Eric Fielbelkorn, and three generations of the Vitko-Woods family.

A formal announcement of Empire Adventures’ plan to partner with STORE Capital took place on Thursday morning.

MORE | Learn more about Empire Adventures’ plan here.

If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe for Fantasy Island, click or tap here.

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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