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KISSIMMEE, FL-Successfully competing with Walt Disney World, Sea World, Wet ‘n Wild and other water-oriented attractions for 19 years, Water Mania owners Gary and Randy Larson have sold the 36-acre attraction and their adjoining 50-room, nine-acre Country Hearth Hotel after a buyer made a deal for the properties the brothers couldn’t refuse, area hotel brokers and other people in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com.

The deal is scheduled to close this month at an estimated price of $20 million, sources familiar with the properties and their proximity to Disney’s 30,000-acre enclave tell GlobeSt.com. The properties were never on the market and were in no financial bind, sources privy to the deal tell GlobeSt.com. The park is scheduled to close Labor Day, Sept. 5.

The properties, at 6073 W. Irlo Bronson Highway (US 192), are two miles east of Disney’s front door and are directly across the road from the entrance to the Disney-built Celebration community. Sources familiar with the US 192 tourist corridor submarket tell GlobeSt.com the buyer plans a multimillion-dollar resort and mixed-use project on the combined 45 acres. The Larson brothers couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the identity of the buyer.

Land brokers who have done deals in the US 192 corridor tell GlobeSt.com the 45 acres alone were probably valued for at least $200,000 per acre ($4.60 per sf) in the overall deal. By comparison, when the late Walt Disney and his team started secret acquisitions of Kissimmee area parcels in the 1960s, Disney was paying local farmers and citrus growers an average $200 per acre for some of the dirt, according to published and verified reports at that time.

Water Mania employs a staff of 96, 15 of them full-time employees. The hotel, once known as Larsons’ Lodge, employed 40 workers.

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