Fantasy Island could reopen under a new operator

Grand Island

GRAND ISLAND, NY (WIVB) — A Chicago-based investor entered into a ‘tentative agreement’ for a long-term lease with the owners of Fantasy Island in the hopes of reopening the amusement park, according to Grand Island town supervisor, John Whitney.

“What he explained to me is that they hope to make the park a family friendly park,” said Whitney regarding an investor named Gene Staples. “They are hoping to get some incentives or abatements from New York State. We’ve reached out to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. We’ve reached out to Assemblyman Angelo Morinello. I also sent an email to the Empire State Development to se if there’s anything out there that’s available. That would help offset some of the capital that he’s going to invest to resurrect this facility.”

With every month that passes, the closed amusement park on Grand Island sees more vandalism. The Ferris Wheel, the Silver Comet and the water slides are still there, but most of the smaller rides have been removed and sold.

Last year, Gene Staples purchased an Indiana Beach amusement park which had been closed by the Apex Group. That’s the same group that closed Fantasy Island after the 2019 season.

“There’s a lot of symbiotic relationships that happen with this facility as well as to the north, the KOA facility, the restaurants in the areas, the gas stations. So there’s a lot of stuff that comes back to this region,” said Whitney.

Even if a deal is worked out soon, Whitney said it is unlikely the park itself would reopen this summer. “At this point, it’s just a very prospective deal and we’re hopeful but I can’t say it’s a done deal.”

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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