Published On: Fri, May 24th, 2019

Iconic Marineland reportedly sold to a Cancun-based company

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Last year, Marineland Dolphin Adventure celebrated its 80th anniversary with the reopening of the iconic entrance arch, a series of special events and a return to the attraction’s roots in the movie business with the premiere of “Bernie the Dolphin.”

For its 81st birthday, the attraction just south of St. Johns County is on track to get new owners.

According to a letter sent by Gary Inks, former vice president and general manager at Marineland Dolphin Adventure, to Amy Lukasik, Flagler County’s interim tourism director, the property is being sold to Cancun, Mexico-based Dolphin Discovery.

If the sale goes through, Marineland Dolphin Adventure will be the third U.S. property acquired by Dolphin Discovery, joining existing facilities in Panama City Beach and the Florida Keys.

Inks sent the letter to resign his position on Flagler County’s Tourist Development Council, the advisory board that reviews grant requests for tourism development funds generated by bed-tax collections at area hotels, campgrounds and vacation rental properties.

In the letter, Inks wrote: “As you may know, Marineland Dolphin Adventure is being purchased by Dolphin Discovery. They will have their own general manager in place by May 1, 2019. I do not know his name at this time. I will need to resign my position on the Flagler TDC Board as of May 1, 2019.”

While officials at the Georgia Aquarium, the entity that purchased Marineland in 2011, declined to comment on the sale of the attraction and officials at Dolphin Discovery have not responded to repeated queries, Inks’ resignation and the appointment of a new general manager at the property with a Dolphin Discovery email address are significant clues as to the status of the property.

While unable to officially confirm the sale of Marineland Dolphin Adventure, Lukasik said new ownership at one of the county’s oldest attractions could be good for tourism development.

“Georgia Aquarium did a lot of improvements, a lot of them visitors wouldn’t see,” she said. “But having a possible company where this is their business is exciting and we’re optimistic since this is what they do all over the world and they will have a level of experience that wasn’t there before.”




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