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New Owner Announces Closure of Marineland; Knott’s Plans to Overhaul

January 30, 1987

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (AP) _ The new owner of Marineland announced Thursday it will close the aquatic attraction March 1, while Knott’s Berry Farm announced separately it plans a $12 million overhaul of its entertainment park.

The New York publishing firm Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. purchased the 33-year-old Marineland in Rancho Palos Verdes on Dec. 31.

Harcourt’s plans for the site were not disclosed, but executive vice president Jack Snyder said: ″The publisher of Carl Sandburg and T.S. Elliot does not desecrate what it touches.″

Harcourt also owns Sea World aquatic parks in San Diego, Orlando, Fla., and Aurora, Ohio, and is building another in San Antonio, Texas.

The 108-acre aquatic park is situated on the Palos Verdes peninsula with a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean and the coast 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

City officials won’t allow a housing development of any kind to be built on the site, said Dennis McDuffie, Rancho Palos Verdes city manager.

McDuffie said city officials knew about negotiations to buy Marineland and were aware of the purchase but had believed Harcourt instead planned to renovate and expand the park. But McDuffie said Harcourt signaled the opposite last week by transferring Marineland’s biggest attractions, killer whales ″Orky″ and ″Corky,″ to San Diego’s Sea World.

Snyder said that Marineland required at least $8 million worth of improvements.

A Harcourt press release said the park’s attendance would have to increase by 175,000 visitors a year to 1 million visitors to justify such expedenditures.

Knott’s, another longtime Southern California theme park, said $12 million in improvements were planned before summer.

About $7 million will be spent on building ″Kingdom of the Dinosaurs,″ a 400,000-square-foot attraction featuring 21 robot dinosaurs, it said. Visitors will take an imaginary trip through time.

Also planned are three new high-speed thrill rides, a three-dimensional movie about sea creatures and a live magic show.

″The whole idea is to have an all-new look,″ said Stuart Zanville, publicity director at Knott’s in Orange County.