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May 30, 2003

Magic Springs & Crystal Falls Announce Major Expansion

Hot Springs, AR - Magic Springs & Crystal Falls theme park today announced plans for a major expansion of the park: A 10-story-tall giant suspended looping roller coaster that will be the biggest thrill ride in the Middle South. The new coaster will be ready for Magic Springs & Crystal Falls' summer 2004 season.

Governor Mike Huckabee said of the planned expansion: "At the time we announced the rebirth of Magic Springs in April 1999, I said the park would be a great asset to Hot Springs, Garland County and the rest of Arkansas because of its potential for economic and tourism development. A million people have passed through the park gates since then and more than $14 million has been collected in city, county and state tax revenues. More than $31 million has been invested in Magic Springs and Crystal Falls. I'm excited to see Magic Springs and Crystal Falls truly emerging as one of the region's premier tourist attractions."

"When completed, the new coaster will add a thrilling component to our existing inventory of rides and attractions, and will be a significant boost to the Hot Springs economy," said Vicki Berni, General Manager of Magic Springs & Crystal Falls. "The nearest theme park ride that rivals this coaster in terms of thrills for the whole family is located in Houston."

The new roller coaster, known in the industry as a suspended looping coaster, is manufactured by Vekoma Rides Manufacturing, B.V., of Vlodrop, The Netherlands. The ride is valued at approximately $7 million in today's market. It will have a 2,260-foot track length and stand 109.3 feet tall. Riders are suspended below the track rather than riding in cars as in the park's existing classic wooden coaster, the Arkansas Twister.

"We plan to locate the new ride near the part of the park that fronts on Highway 70, so it will immediately add tremendous visibility as people approach the park from either direction on the highway," Berni said. "With a total hourly capacity of more than 1,000 riders on two 20-passenger trains, this is a very exciting addition to the entertainment experience at the park. The 'footprint' of the ride will measure approximately 361 by 155 feet."

The new attraction will be financed with $4.4 million in Act 9 revenue bonds guaranteed by the Arkansas Department of Economic Development and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, according to Jay Chesshir, President of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce. The City Board of Directors is expected to approve at its June 2 meeting a special election to be held July 8 in the City of Hot Springs to approve the bond issue.

"This is another opportunity for Hot Springs citizens to obtain an important economic benefit for the city without it costing us a penny," Chesshir said. "Hot Springs gets an additional attraction for our citizens and their families to enjoy with no increase in taxes and no additional obligations for the city."

City Director Bob Wheeler, who also is a member of the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission, said, "This is one more opportunity to continue the exceptional growth of Hot Springs and our economy as we did when we built the new Civic and Convention Center, when we voted to help bring Magic Springs back to life and when we decided to add the new arena to the Civic Center and make ours the biggest facility in Arkansas."

"All of these wonderful additions to our city have been promises made and promises delivered," Wheeler said. "Hot Springs residents now have access to the biggest, most modern, fabulous theme park in our region, and we haven't had to spend a dime in extra taxes. That's really phenomenal when you think about it."

"The rebirth of Magic Springs has been a tremendous success," said Elizabeth Farris, a community leader, banker and member of the Advertising Commission. "In the four summers since Magic Springs has been reopened it has hosted nearly a million visitors. The new Timberwood Amphitheater, which opens on June 7, is the scene of 10 live music concerts this summer, a wonderful entertainment option for Hot Springs residents and an attraction for statewide audiences. We are so excited that the park now will offer a state of the art new roller coaster thrill ride that will expand its appeal to a broader, regional audience."

"The people of Hot Springs trusted Magic Springs four years ago to deliver on its promise to be a major statewide attraction, and now the park is ready to take it to the next level without costing Hot Springs anything," said David Bartlett, a Hot Springs banker and community leader who was active in the earlier election to approve Act 9 bonds to develop and reopen Magic Springs.

Berni said, "A roller coaster of this size and drawing power usually attracts 50,000 to 100,000 additional park visitors per year, and we fully expect that this new Magic Springs coaster will match those historic numbers. That means we could see as much as a 25 percent increase in the number of our summer 2004 visitors."

"Magic Springs has quickly become an important community asset for Hot Springs," Wheeler said. "The owners have delivered on everything they said they would do at the park and more. Expanding the attractions offered at Magic Springs will mean we all gain in terms of entertainment opportunities as well as the economic benefits from a steadily expanding major attraction for the city."

Chesshir estimated that the new attraction would generate more than $6 million in new economic benefits annually for Hot Springs, taking into account additional sales taxes generated, lodging, restaurant and shopping gains and increased business at other businesses throughout the city.

Magic Springs & Crystal Falls is owned by Themeparks, LLC, and is open daily through August 23. The park is located on Highway 70 East in Hot Springs, Arkansas, just 50 minutes southwest of Little Rock.

For more information: Magic Springs & Crystal Falls