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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Sea World says talk of park 'premature'

 •  Botanist ousted at Waimea Falls Park

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Sea World officials declined to comment yesterday on a visit to Waimea Valley Adventure Park last week by managers of the St. Louis-based entertainment park operator.

Fred Jacobs, a spokesman for Sea World parent Busch Entertainment Corp., confirmed the tour but would not discuss the company's interest in the North Shore property.

A Sea World management team toured the 1,875-acre Waimea Valley preserve with owner Christian Wolffer, the New York investor who put the financially struggling park up for sale last August for $25 million.

Kai McDurmin, a local Coldwell Banker real estate agent representing Wolffer, has said Sea World expressed interest as a potential buyer but had not made an offer.

Jacobs said yesterday that "any discussion of a purchase is very premature."

Busch Entertainment, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., owns nine adventure parks on the Mainland, including three Sea Worlds, two waterparks, conventional thrill-ride parks and a park that features swimming with dolphins.

Wolffer acquired the Waimea property and Waimanalo's Sea Life Park in 1996 from a previous owner undergoing foreclosure.

Last month, the Wolffer-led firm used to buy the parks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to block a move by Bank of Hawaii to foreclose on the parks before another lawsuit over an outstanding loan can be heard.

The city and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs also have expressed interest in buying the Waimea park. Any sale would have to proceed through bankruptcy court.