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The involvement of private equity firms heralds a new era in theme park development, breathing new life into aging parks such as Montreal's La Ronde and Toronto's Canada's Wonderland

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The 640-metre ride will zip riders over an artificial lake at speeds nearing 90 kilometres an hour. Parent company Six Flags, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, has spent more than $10-million on the attraction, promising to flip and spin riders for a terrifying minute or two before they step off and move onto the next rush.

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'We try to come up with something new every year,' says La Ronde spokesman Martin Roy. 'There may be a restructuring going on, but we are doing very well here in Montreal.'

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Montreal's La Ronde opened in 1967 as part of Expo 67, and was run by the city until 2001 when it was sold to Six Flags. As part of that deal, the park is obliged to meet investment obligations every year.

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There’s no secret to success – it takes a pile of money to make a pile back at an amusement park. Canada's Wonderland continues to roll out new rides and features each year, including the $25-million Behemoth roller coaster two years ago.

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Canada's Wonderland opened in 1981 and was operated by Kings Entertainment Corp. until Paramount Parks purchased it in 1993. Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. bought Paramount in 2006. In December, New York private equity firm Apollo Management said it had agreed to buy Cedar Fair for $635-million (U.S.); shareholders vote on the proposal next month.

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