Insurance Expires on Carnival; Kan. Bank Wants Rides Valued at $1 Million

July 30, 2007

A Kansas City-area bank is seeking to seize almost $1 million in rides leased to the closed and bankrupt Wild West World, saying the insurance on them has lapsed.

In a court filing last week, Overland Park-based Bank of Blue Valley asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wichita to let it take a 25-year-old refurbished log flume, a flipping action arm ride, a Ferris wheel and a pirate ship. All of the rides were leased to Wild West World founder and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Etheredge in 2006.

A lawyer for Etheredge, Ed Nazar, filed an objection to the bank’s request, saying the park should be sold as a unit and not in pieces.

Robert Niles, editor of the Web site, says removing the rides would
severely hurt efforts to sell the park.

“Once the rides are gone, so is the chance to sell the park,” Niles said. “What you’re left with is a real estate sale.”

The $30 million theme park, which opened to the public in the Wichita suburb of Park City on May 5, closed July 9 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to the bankruptcy filing, the park has about $24 million in debt.

In its request, Bank of Blue Valley said the insurance on the rides, valued at more than $954,000, expired Wednesday, July 25. It also said the rides are depreciating and asked that the court rule quickly.

A hearing date has not been set.

Gary Slade, a theme park analyst and editor of the trade publication Amusement Today, agreed with the bank’s assessment that the rides are deteriorating.

“Sitting idle damages the hydraulic lines,” he said. “They’re like a car engine. You have to start them up and run them occasionally.”

Etheredge also had to close his Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper club. Prairie Rose and an adjoining farm, including Thomas and Cheryl Etheredge’s home, and some items in the Hopalong Cassidy Cowboy Museum, will be auctioned off Aug. 24.

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