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August 23, 2001

Netherlands Coaster Manufacturer Files For Bankruptcy

Netherlands -- Vekoma, the world's largest manufacturer of roller coasters announced that they will file for bankruptcy and lay off the companies 240 employees. Under Dutch law the company must close and a team of 15 will be appointed to guide the company through the reorganization.

Roger Houben, director of Vekoma stated that the companies problems began when it received fewer orders during 2000. He attributes the decline in orders to the decrease in attendance at amusement parks.

Houben hopes to begin the process of restructuring shortly.

The amusement industry in general has seen a decline in attendance this year that is being blamed on higher gas prices and a slower economy. Past trends indicate that parks operators are less likely to build new attractions during down times. When attendance decreases everyone in the industry feels the pinch.

Earlier this year Kansas based ride manufacturer Chance Rides also filed for bankruptcy protection. Chance recently merged with Morgan Manufacturing of La Selva Beach, California to become Chance Morgan.

Vekoma has been a major supplier of roller coasters for amusement parks around the world. The company is best known for its Boomerang roller coaster that sends riders upside down six times in just over a minute. This popular looping shuttle coaster has been installed in more than three dozen parks worldwide.

This past year Six Flags placed six orders with Vekoma which included two Flying Dutchman models and three of the new "Super Boomerang" coasters.

Unfortunately, mechanical problems on five of the new installations have delayed the opening or required the parks to operate at below normal capacity. It is reported that Six Flags has held off payment to Vekoma until the coasters are installed and operating properly.

In addition, Vekoma also has built a popular suspended looping coaster, a suspended looping shuttle coaster called Invertigo and a family roller coaster called a Roller Skater.