Whale's Tale owners buy Liquid Planet in Candia for $950,000 at water park auction
CANDIA — Liquid Planet Water Park has a new owner.
With a bid of $950,000, the company that owns the Whale’s Tale Water Park in Lincoln was the highest bidder at a public auction Wednesday.
NLI LLC Inc., which owns the Whale’s Tale and Alpine Adventures Zipline Co., purchased the recreational facility after Liquid Planet founder Kevin Dumont fell behind on mortgage payments in the last several months.
Dumont launched a campaign to try to save the park by chaining himself to a water slide and camping out atop the slide tower for two weeks, hoping to attract investors. He climbed down a week ago, when he realized he wouldn’t have time to work out a deal to pay off a $1.5 million bank loan.
Jeff Woodward, a managing partner with NLI, said Liquid Planet will give the company a chance to expand to southern New Hampshire. Whale’s Tale and Alpine Adventures are both located in Lincoln.
“These guys had a great vision. They’ve got a great park. What’s here has really done well and is in great shape. … We’ve been in the water park business for 30 years and we think we can take our expertise and continue to grow with it and continue to make it bigger and a successful company,” Woodward said.
Woodward said the park will reopen in the spring under the new ownership and likely will be expanded over time.
The purchase comes several months after representatives from NLI began discussing the possibility of working out a deal with Dumont. They were unable to reach an agreement at the time.
Despite his failed attempt to keep the park, Dumont tried to remain upbeat and optimistic about its future.
“It’s sad, obviously. Whenever you start something and you pour your heart into it as long as we did, which was 10 years from start to finish, it’s painful. I’m hoping that it’s found itself a good home. I know in my heart I’ve done everything I could to try to save it and it’ll go on to the next phase of its life,” Dumont said.
The property has two homes; Dumont lives in one. Dumont said he knows he'll eventually have to move.
The challenges that faced Dumont as he tried to keep the park he opened in 2008 caught the attention of many, including old friend Michael Magoon, who is now a business professor at Manchester Community College.
Magoon's entrepreneurship class followed the story of Dumont's campaign after he chained himself to the water slide on Nov. 9.
Magoon, who attended the auction to show his support, said he's now using Dumont's business story as a case study.
"He fought the good fight ... I can't see how much more he could have done," Magoon said.