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U buys Wet ‘n Wild

Brisco tapped as H'w'd park prez

In its first venture into the water amusement park business, Universal Studios Recreation Group on Thursday announced it had acquired independent water park builder Wet ‘n Wild.

Universal’s purchase of the Arlington, Texas-based company not only expands its theme park properties in the Orlando, Fla., area but internationally, as well.

The Recreation Group on Thursday also tapped Robert Brisco as prexy of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, CityWalk and Universal City Cinemas, where he will oversee operations, finance, marketing, sales, strategic planning and food service for the attractions.

Brisco served as senior veep of advertising, marketing and new business development at the Los Angeles Times, where he helped launch LATimes.com.

Wet ‘n Wild Orlando is the most successful water park in the country, attracting more than 1 million visitors a year. The company also operates parks in Arlington, Las Vegas, Mexico and Brazil. Universal declined to disclose the purchase price.

The studio’s motive for acquiring the park, according to insiders, was fueled by Wet ‘n Wild Orlando’s close proximity to its Universal Studios Escape resort, skedded to open in summer 1999, where in addition to Universal Studios Florida, there will be a CityWalk, premier hotels and a second gate attraction called Islands of Adventure.

The purchase also provides Universal with a water park for its Orlando ventures to compete with Disney.

Cathy Nichols, chairman and CEO of Universal Studios Recreation Group said the acquisition not only continues the “globalization” of the company’s recreation business, but the established success of the Orlando water park “adds an exciting new experience for our Florida guests.”

Universal Studios Recreation Group in June expanded its European presence by acquiring a stake in Port Aventura, Spain’s largest and most successful theme park.

Universal Studios Japan, modeled after the Universal Studios Florida theme park, is scheduled to open in 2001. The Universal Studios Experience Beijing, an indoor entertainment project and the first retail/amusement presence in China by a major Hollywood studio, opened earlier this month.

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