Big money is the name of the game for Curt Caffey. As vice president of investments at CNL Income Co., LLC, he is responsible for financing many of the waterpark industry’s largest projects, including several Great Wolf Lodge properties.
Last year, he and his team secured approximately $350 million in funding for theme-park and waterpark attractions, including a deal for Parc Management involving the purchase of seven parks from Six Flags, all of which include water attractions. His team also was instrumental in the Harvest Entertainment acquisition of Dallas-area Hawaiian Falls waterparks and financing for Magic Springs & Crystal Falls park in Hot Springs, Ark.
CNL provides investor-funded capital to purchase a property and then leases it back to the operator or a new operating group, and Caffey says waterparks and resorts are especially attractive right now.
“Our focus is on lifestyle investments and we look at opportunities with a long-term perspective,” Caffey says. “Right now, we’re interested in facilities that have a multigenerational appeal. Waterparks, theme parks and waterpark resorts fit that niche perfectly.”
Caffey holds a business degree from Texas State University, but it was his practical experience working as a lifeguard with Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in his hometown of New Braunfels, Texas, that first brought him to the waterpark industry. He went on to work for Ogden Entertainment (now Parques Reunidos) and was a key player in the deal through which Ogden acquired the Wet ’n Wild and Raging Waters waterparks.
With plans to focus on securing another $350 million in funding for amusement clients in 2008, Caffey is poised to anoint new waterpark kingpins.