A leading privately owned chain of RV parks and campgrounds is branching out into the amusement park sector as part of its drive to become a major regional destination for families.
Morgan RV Resorts LLC, based in Queensbury, N.Y., in February purchased the Indiana Beach amusement park and adjacent Indiana Beach Camp Resort and Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp-Resort near Monticello, Ind., from the Spackman family. The two west-central Indiana parks contain a total of 1,000 camping sites, while Indiana Beach features a giant waterpark, sand beach, six roller coasters, shopping and restaurants.
The purchase gives Morgan 36 RV parks and campgrounds, four of which are Yogi Bear camp-resorts. The company’s other Yogi Bear parks are in Mays Landing, N.J., Aurora, Ohio, and Grand Haven, Mich.
Morgan added seven parks in 2007, including Westward Ho Camp Resort in Greenbush, Wis., Seaport Campground in Old Mystic, Conn., and Camp Coldbrook RV Resort in Barre, Mass., and had contracts at the end of February to purchase five additional parks. “Our goal is to be at 100 parks within the next five years,” said Bob Moser, a partner with Bob Morgan in Morgan RV Resorts.
In an interview with Woodall’s Campground Management, Moser acknowledged that the firm has been operating “under the radar” since it began acquiring RV parks in 2000 and especially over the past five years as it quietly built its RV resort business.
Morgan holdings are now located in Maine, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. The company says it will be adding a resort in Colorado, its first park west of the Mississippi River, this year.
Moser said he was surprised by the attention his firm received for the Indiana Beach purchase: the announcement was carried in at least 28 newspapers and countless electronic media outlets. Now, the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, and the partners welcome the recognition. “We want to become the best managed RV park company in the country,” Moser said.
To that end, Morgan RV Resorts, which maintains a central call center for reservations at its parks and has adopted Campground Manager software, hosted the managers of all its parks for a week-long training session this week at its office in Queensbury.
Morgan, meanwhile, is coming off its “best year yet in terms of occupancy and revenues,” Moser said, and looks forward to another good year in 2008.
Moser said his company will make a multi-million investment in adding a new roller coaster to Indiana Beach and will seek to acquire additional amusement parks.
For his part, Rob Schutter Jr., president of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of the Yogi Bear parks, welcomed the latest Morgan acquisition. “Morgan Management appears to be very interested in getting into the various components of the outdoor recreation industry,” Schutter told WCM. “They are very committed to not only the camping industry but other recreation venues. This fits into their long-range business plans. We wish them well with their acquisition”
The deal has been in the works since December when representatives of Morgan learned about Indiana Beach through the campground industry and contacted the Spackman family, according to the Monticello Herald Journal.
At this point few immediate changes are in store for the Indiana Beach operation, according to Spackman family spokesman Tom Spackman Jr. “I feel this is a very nice fit for Indiana Beach because of their strength in the camping industry,” Spackman told the newspaper.
In a statement following the closing of the deal, Moser said the quality of the resort will remain under Morgan, which has owned and operated a residential and commercial real estate portfolio since 1976 including 35 manufactured home communities, 10,000 apartments; and other commercial real estate.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming this historic Indiana family destination to the Morgan RV family,” he said. “Guests of Indiana Beach will continue to take pleasure in the quality experience they have come to love over the past eight decades and enjoy an ongoing commitment to improving the destination year after year.”