Oklahoma company takes over Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier

SANTA MONICA, CA. -- THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2015 : Special Olympics athlete Everton Silva of Brazil str
Special Olympics athlete Everton Silva of Brazil rides the West Roller Coaster at Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier in 2015.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

An Oklahoma company that operates 15 theme and water parks across the country has taken over as operator of the Santa Monica Pier’s amusement park and its prominent nine-story Ferris wheel.

Premier Parks, which runs Wet ‘n’ Wild water parks in Texas, California, Arizona and Hawaii, took over operations from a company whose owner has retired.

Kieran Burke, chairman and chief executive of Premier, said he is likely to invest in upgrading the existing attractions or adding new ones.

“Pacific Park is really a jewel, a very iconic park, known not just by public but throughout the theme park industry,” he said. “We have nothing specific to announce today but we will continue to make investments in this facility.”


Mary Ann Powell, the owner of the prior operator, Santa Monica Amusement, retired Tuesday. She worked as chief executive of the park starting in 1997 before buying the company in 2012.

Although Burke declined to discuss specific financial data at the park, he said Pacific Park has been profitable. “It’s amazing how strong and consistent the park has been through good times and bad,” he said.

EPR Properties, a Kansas City, Mo., real estate investment trust, leases the park acreage from the city and owns the attractions and eateries that have been built on the two-acre site.

The amusement park, including 12 rides and 14 midway games, opened in 1996. The featured attraction at the park is the Ferris wheel, which is lit by 174,000 solar-powered LED lights on 40 spokes.


To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

Get our weekly Business newsletter

A look back, and ahead, at the latest California business news.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.