INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — More than 200 people filed complaints with the state of Indiana about 2020 passes they already purchased for Indiana Beach, but new ownership has brought hope that they won’t lose their money.
The CBS4 Problem Solvers spoke to dozens of people who were trying to get their money back after the amusement park’s previous owners, Apex Park Groups, announced in February that Indiana Beach would not reopen.
Apex had advertised holiday deals on 2020 season passes as late as December 31 and also sold seasonal campground space, which in some cases cost longtime visitors hundreds of dollars in advance.
According to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, which took the complaints, an investigation could have been launched into whether or not Apex knew in advance that it planned to close the park.
“If they were being told that the business was going to be open but the business knew they were not going to be open, then that’s something we would review and look at,” Consumer Protection Division Director Betsy DeNardi said in March.
That investigation will likely no longer happen, since Chicago business owner Gene Staples announced that he is purchasing the park and plans to reopen it in 2020.
Some ticket holders said they had filed disputes with credit card companies. In other cases, like that of Frankfort resident Kim Prather, efforts to contact Apex through the park’s website had gone unanswered.
“I used their online form like they had said to and then never heard back from them,” Prather said.
Prather and her husband bought 11 passes as part of a Black Friday sale and gifted them to family members for Christmas. The passes were supposed to be good for the entire 2020 season, including souvenir drink cups and popcorn buckets.
“We had both visited as kids and teens, but we had never actually taken our kids up there yet,” Prather said.
In a news release, Staples said he will honor prepaid passes. CBS4 Problem Solvers reached out to the park’s management for clarification but did not hear back.
Monticello Mayor Cathy Gross was involved in talks between county commissioners and Staples. She said that all along, Staples had said he intended to honor people’s previous purchases.
“That they went ahead with the purchase through (the COVID-19 pandemic) gives me a lot of optimism,” Gross said.
The question now will be when the amusement park can open, given ongoing restrictions on large gatherings. If Governor Eric Holcomb’s plan to reopen Indiana moves forward as intended, the park could open at half capacity in mid-June.
“It seems like any movement forward is good,” Prather said. “I think that even if we have to wait, the kids will be excited and I am excited about going.”
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office suggests that if you prepay for passes or services at any business, you keep a record and read the fine print to make sure you know what will happen if the business closes or you cannot use them.