Bell’s Amusement Park
Proposed New Theme Park
Broken Arrow, OK
???? - New Park - (5/17/2023) While I can’t go into details, a knowledgeable source reached out to me to say that the dream of rebuilding Bell’s Amusement Park is still alive. While I don’t know all the details, apparently the local news report that claimed that the project was dead did not get that news from the new owner of the property in Broken Arrow, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company (SCSC).
Instead, the only statement that came out was from the City Manager who only confirmed that thus far Santa Cruz Seaside Company has not sent them any kind of formal development plan for the property.
Then we finally have the official statement from the President of SCSC that simply said, “We believe that the property is in a desirable location with attractive development potential. We also believe that entertainment-focused development, to possibly include an amusement park, could be successful at this location”.
Neither group mentioned selling the property, and SCSC still sounds like they are working out what their final plan for the property will be. So with that in mind… don’t write off a possible return of Bell’s Amusement Park just yet.
(5/15/2023) According to a local news update, the plan to build a new Bell’s Amusement Park in Broken Arrow is no longer moving forward. According to the owner of the property, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, the pending deal with Robby Bell is no longer happening, and they may be looking to sell the property to someone else. They still believe the property would be ideal for development with an entertainment based focus, which could very well include an amusement park.
Nothing more was speculated, but since we know Santa Cruz Seaside Company also owns and operated the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, perhaps they might be included to build their own park sometime in the future unless they can find someone else to work with.
(4/23/22) So what’s the latest word on the return of Bell’s Amusement Park? Apparently not much. The latest news update says nothing has changed since it was revealed that the actual owners who purchased the property have not yet revealed their final plans for how they wish to develop it, and that the city really hasn’t heard a word from the Bell family since. The unfortunate spin on this is that the announcement about the return of the Bell’s Amusement Park to the site seems to have been a premature announcement.
While it is likely that the park could still be rebuilt on the site in Broken Arrow, those final development plans have not yet been made by the new property owner. But since the owner is actually the company who owns the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park in California, it does still seem likely that some form of amusement center is likely to be a key part of the development plan when they move forward.
(2/19/22) During all the attention about the return of Bell’s Amusement Park I had never bothered to ask myself just who the owner of the Broken Arrow property may be. Imagine my surprise when this news article revealed that the actual future owner of the property itself in Broken Arrow (closing by the end of February) is the owner of another well known amusement park, Santa Cruz Seaside Co.
So apparently the owners of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park are involved with the Bell family to rebuild an all new Bell’s Amusement Park in Oklahoma. According to the article the CFO of Santa Cruz Seaside Co. said they were made aware of the property by the Bell family, who they’ve had a friendly industry-based relationship with over the years. Santa Cruz is going to conduct the previously mentioned study about the future use of the property going forward, which may result in something of a “mixed-use project that includes an amusement park.” Either way, they are closing on the property in a matter of days and will eventually develop the property into something, so no matter what, it isn’t going to sit quiet and empty.
Previously Robbie Bell had confirmed that his family had the financial backing to build a new Bell’s Amusement Park, but all along they have been unable to disclose the source of it, until now. While the talk of a ‘slowdown’ may be disheartening to those who want to see Bell’s back in action as soon as possible, the involvement of the owners of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the project does give me great confidence that we will eventually see Bell’s in action once again. After all ther Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been running since 1907 and have taken fantastic care of the park’s iconic Giant Dipper wooden coaster which will be turning 100 years old in 2024. With a successful partner who knows how to run a classic amusement park in a compact space like the SCBB, along with the return of the Bell family to the industry, the future of Broken Arrow looks much brighter today.
(2/18/22) Despite the announcement that Bell’s was looking to rebuild the park in Broken Arrow, a new announcement from the developer of the land says that they are “slowing down” the process. Apparently they have not made a final decision on how to use the 102-acre site and will conduct a new market analysis to determine the best use for the property, which may or may not still include the plans to revive the Bell’s Amusement Park.
(12/18/21) While we know the plans are now in progress to bring back Bell’s Amusement Park to Oklahoma in Broken Arrow, it seems some of the locals in the area are not happy about the idea of having a theme park in their quiet neck of the woods. From what I understand the area where the new Bell’s is planning to be built is a quiet large piece of land that has never been developed, so the immediate location would seem fine. But as usual, there are always NIMBYs out there who don’t want any major projects coming into their areas out of fear of traffic, noise, or just general commercial build-up.
Local residents who are opposed to the coming of Bell’s have apparently begun meeting in private to discuss their options, but they have yet to submit any kind of formal objection, which falls in line anyway as even Bell’s has not submitted their final building plans yet. The good thing is that I’m sure Bell’s is more than willing to meet ith them to discuss their concerns and hopefully they can work out a solution sooner than later, while all the plans are still flexible.
(11/6/21) It is now official… Bell’s is returning to Oklahoma. Bell’s has purchased a 102 acre site in Broken Arrow, just south-east of Tulsa. For those who visited the old Bells, it was built on 10.2 acres leased from the Fairgrounds, so owning a site 10 times the size of the old park should give them the room to really do something special this time around.
With no restrictions on their operating season imposed by the fairgrounds, the new Bell’s is now planning on being open 10 months out of the year, closing only in January and February. The park will be able to take full advantage of the various holiday seasons for the first time as well, with plans to offer special events for Halloween and Christmas for the first time. According to the announcement, this new location will include a thrill park, a kiddie park, a waterpark and an indoor section featuring go-karts and VR attractions.
We’ve also got a longer video from the press conference where different people speak about the new project. Unlike some other older parks, Bells did not go under because they were in bad financial shape. Instead Bell’s reported at the time that the park closed that they had been having some of the most successful years ever, and had dreams of growing bigger and expanding at the fairgrounds site. Instead the fairgrounds decided to not renew Bell’s land lease and forced the park to shut down in 2006.
So I wish Bell’s the best as they begin the work to transform this piece of empty and undeveloped property into their new home. And yes, they did say that the park’s famous “Zingo” wooden coaster will rise again as one of the new park’s offerings. I didn’t notice a timeline as to when the park will be ready to open, so I imagine there is still a lot to figure out going forward, so stay tuned!