NEWS FLASH!!-Edaville Family Theme (Carver, Ma)

Opening derailed: Idle Edaville is still not ready to roll

Edaville is expected to open this fall for the Christmas Festival of Lights

Joe Difazio

The Patriot Ledger

CARVER — When will Edaville Family Theme Park be back on track?

It’s the question on the mind of Carver Select Board members, families across the South Shore and hundreds of commenters on the theme park’s Facebook page

Michael Milanoski, president of the Grafton and Upton Railroad Company, a company that shares an owner with Edaville, said Friday that they hope to have more information by the end of the month, and plans are to open sometime this year. 

“We’re working through our reopening plan and staffing up. It takes a while to get the park ready,” Milanoski said. 

Despite restrictions on theme parks being lifted, Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver remains closed on Thursday, July 15, 2021. It is expected to open for the Christmas Festival of Lights this fall.

He said he couldn’t give an exact date of when the park would open. 

As part of the state’s COVID-19 reopening protocols, amusement parks were allowed to open in May. Six Flags of New England opened on May 15 and Water Wizz in Wareham resumed operations on June 19. A May 24 post on Edaville’s Facebook page indicated they “are analyzing the necessary investment so that we can plan accordingly for what normally takes up to 60 days to open the park.

“To provide a wonderful and memorable experience for your children at our family theme park, a lot goes into reopening, including preparing the property, working with Mattel, stocking the restaurants, reinspection of the rides as well as hiring/rehiring and training our employees to provide the experience you expect,” the statement said. “We will be opening for our Christmas Festival of Lights this fall and if we are able to open sooner, we will.”

Multiple phone calls and emails sent to Edaville staff, management and ownership were not answered. Reporters who visited the park on Thursday and Sunday saw no one there. There are no chairs on Big Eli, the park’s Ferris wheel and there is no water in the fountains. A portable metal gate was set up in front of the main entrance, along with a long piece of yellow rope. In the distance, an idle red caboose and locomotive could be seen on the property.

Carver Town Administrator Richard LaFond said that park officials have had no recent interaction with the town, but that Edaville doesn’t need any formal go ahead or additional approval from the town. 

“It’s purely up to them when they open,” LaFond said.

The ticket purchasing section on the amusement park’s web site is not functioning, either. Edaville’s May updates on Facebook drew hundreds of comments ranging from anger to disappointment, and calls from others to cut the park some slack. 

On Sunday morning, the vast parking lot was empty, except for four cars, offloading bicycles and their riders wearing neon green riding outfits.

Inside the park there was no movement, except the rustling of leaves on trees and a single man sitting on a silent, unmoving riding mower.

Carver Town Administrator Richard LaFond said that park officials have had no recent interaction with the town, but that Edaville doesn’t need any formal go ahead or additional approval from the town. 

“It’s purely up to them when they open,” LaFond said.

The ticket purchasing section on the amusement park’s web site is not functioning, either. Edaville’s May updates on Facebook drew hundreds of comments ranging from anger to disappointment, and calls from others to cut the park some slack. 

Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver has yet to open this summer.

“Basically, you’re saying you’re not planning on opening this summer? Skipping though just for the Festival of Lights? That’s really sad! I hope you reopen sooner,” said one commenter. “My kiddo keeps asking when we can go. I also wish you guys had greater transparency for those of us who have been holding on to tickets.”

Another comment applauded the patient approach.

“I would rather see them focus on safely reopening than to rush into it just for people to go this summer,” said one user. 

Many commented on Edaville’s long history of financial troubles. It has teetered on the edge of closing before and was shuttered for more than seven years in the 1990s. Before that, it was plagued by disputes between the railroad operator and landlord. 

The amusement park was hit with a tax lien last October for nearly $39,000 in unpaid back taxes dating to 2016. 

Edaville owner Jon Delli Priscoli at a hard-hat tour of Thomas Land in 2015.

Edaville Railroad opened in 1947 under the ownership of cranberry farmer Ellis D. Atwood. (The park’s name starts with Atwood’s initials.) The railroad was used to harvest cranberries and take tourists through the bogs. Jon Delli Priscoli brought the park back to life after financial difficulties. He purchased Edaville as part of a group in 2001, but he alone owns it now, following other changes in ownership, a bankruptcy and a foreclosure in the mid-2000s. Delli Priscoli also owns the 250 acres on which the theme park sits. He’s a real estate developer in addition to a theme park and industrial rail owner. 

Edaville, a relic of an earlier time when small family-owned theme parks dotted New England, is one of the last of its kind. Gone are places like King’s Castle Land in Whitman, Whalom Park in Lunenburg and Paragon Park in Hull. 

The Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster is is one of the rides in Thomas Land at Edaville in Carver.

In 2015, Edaville scored a coup in partnering with Mattell and opening a $25 million Thomas the Tank Engine section of the park called “Thomas Land.” The year prior it had opened a dinosaur-themed section of the park, aptly called “Dino Land.”

The website lists ticket prices at $39 with discounts available for military and seniors. 

This story was updated to correct the location of Water Wizz, which is in Wareham. 

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