Moncton's loss could be Cavendish's gain; Crystal Palace closing

Dave Stewart
Published on July 31, 2014

Ride at Crystal Palace in Moncton

Moncton’s loss could be Cavendish’s gain but the news has left at least a few Island families very disappointed.

The company that owns Crystal Palace announced Thursday that it is closing the theme park portion of the business Sept 1.

The Ramada hotel and convention centre and McGinnis Landing Restaurant will shut their doors for good on Oct. 31.

The midway rides at Crystal Palace have been acquired by Maritime Fun Group. That’s the Jelley family, which also owns and operates Magic Mountain in Moncton and Sandspit and Shining Waters Family Fun Park in Cavendish.

Matthew Jelley, president of Maritime Fun Group, said the deal came together very quickly and a number of decisions still have to be made.

“We are considering all of our options,’’ Jelley told The Guardian Thursday. “It could include a new facility in Moncton, it could include expansion on Prince Edward Island (and) it could include projects elsewhere in the region.’’

Jelley said his family will be putting a plan together in the next month or so.

“We made the decision to purchase the rides no matter what. We figured after that we’d have a chance to put a plan together over the next four to six weeks and have a bit more of an idea by then.’’

The news has left some Island families scrambling to plan at least one more trip over to the theme park before it shuts down.

Laura Wood of Crapaud said she’s taken her seven-year-old daughter to Crystal Palace three times but realizes her 15-month-old son won’t have any memories of it.

“I just realized he’s never going to know what Crystal Palace was,’’ Wood said. “It’s like Rainbow Valley. It’s that iconic theme park that you miss as a kid. You have all your childhood memories from Crystal Palace. It was that magical feeling when you walked in (as a child). It was electrifying . . . it kind of overwhelms you.’’

Rainbow Valley was a large theme park that operated in Cavendish from 1969-2005. It’s now a Parks Canada greenspace.

Autumn Getson of Charlottetown said she and husband Rodney Evans took their two young children to Crystal Palace in the spring.

“They are three and seven and that’s all they’ve talked about since we got back,’’ Getson said.

“They want to go back to Crystal Palace, especially my three-year-old. She loved it so now I’m starting to scramble and figure out how I’m going to get back over there before they close.’’

Just as Jelley did by purchasing some of Rainbow Valley’s infrastructure, he’s now trying to do the same with Crystal Palace — ensure that the rides families have had so much fun on, live on.

“We’re very pleased with how Shining Waters has developed and we continue to grow there. It may very well be that some of these attractions find a way there as well,’’ Jelley said.

Bass Pro Shops, an outdoor retailer in camping, nature gifts, outdoor cooking and more, will be moving into the Crystal Palace complex, with plans to operate about 110,000 square feet of space.