Indiana amusement park seeing more visitors under new owner

A 90-year-old Indiana amusement park is making a comeback after coming under new ownership.

Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort, on Lake Shafer in Monticello, was acquired by Apex Parks Group late last year.

The California-based company, which took over the park in September, says it has a five-year plan to improve the park. Officials say the park has already sold 10,000 more annual passes than last year, and general admission sales have increased. The park now has 60 full-time employees, 20 more than it had under previous ownership, the Journal & Courier of Lafayette reported.

Apex Parks Group has updated several of the park's attractions in preparation for the 2016 season, and it has added attractions, including a single-loop roller coaster and bumper boats that will open later this season.

In addition to rides and water attractions, the park has two campgrounds, two hotels and various vacation rentals.

The park's Ferris wheel has been updated with the installation of 25 LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, on the ride's spokes to display computer-generated light shows at night. Each of its cars has been repainted as well.

Monticello Chamber of Commerce executive director Janet Dold said the park's annual economic impact in 2001 was estimated at $60.4 million, but dropped to $29.6 million under previous ownership.

Dold says trends in Indiana tourism toward shorter trips also contributed to the decrease. Dold was invited to a recent VIP day for community members to check out the park before it opened for the season on May 27, and said she was optimistic about the park's future.

Earl Spackman created the attraction in the 1920s before handing it off to his son, Thomas, who sold the park in 2008 to Morgan RV Resorts, a campground and RV park owner headquartered in Queensbury, N.Y., for undisclosed terms. Thomas died in 2013 at age 100.

Thomas' daughter, Cathy Juntgen, worked at the park as a teenager, as did her older siblings. Juntgen stopped working at the park in 2013 and said she didn't think the park would last another year. She thought it would close just before it could celebrate its 90th anniversary.

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