View Full Version : Queen Mary files Bankruptcy

12-22-2006, 05:32 PM
Check this out...

The story mentions that the haunted house grosses over 1.5 million and makes a 1 million dollar profit...

Queen Mary's bankruptcy casts ship, Long Beach tourism adrift
Bloomberg News
The Queen Mary luxury liner, which sank over the years from monarch of the sea to tourism tool, has become a royal headache.

The owner of the lease to operate the 72-year-old ship and her 365-room on-board hotel was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year in a dispute over $3.4 million in back rent with the city of Long Beach, which purchased the Queen Mary in 1967 to help it compete for visitors with area attractions.

Now, a court-appointed trustee is trying to sell the 66-year lease and rights to develop 45 acres of land near the ship, which once carried Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire and Bob Hope in art deco elegance across the North Atlantic.

"The ship has been pilfered," said Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, a former Long Beach activist. "It's falling apart."

The vessel's engines and boilers are gutted. Pigeons nest in portholes, and seagull droppings dot the fading teak decks. The Queen Mary, named after the wife of King George V, transported troops during World War II and dominated the trans-Atlantic passenger trade with the Queen Elizabeth for almost two decades.

"I understand the 'coolness' of staying aboard a great luxury liner and being a part of its history," according to a comment about the Queen Mary's hotel posted on tripadvisor.com's Web site. "But be prepared for the reality of it also. It's old. It's run down. It's dark. And it smells funny in there."

Today, the Queen Mary is perhaps best known as a ghost ship. It offers a year-round tour of supposedly haunted sites, such as a children's playroom where a baby's cries can be heard and a long-empty, first-class pool that has sounds of splashing.

The vessel in January will host a three-day "paranormal retreat" for ghost hunters and offer merchandise such as the Queen Mary Boxer Shorts and even the Queen Mary Classic Thong.

Last month, the ship was the site of GhostFest Expo 2006, with seminars such as "The Poltergeist Syndrome" and "The Unquiet Dead." Bankruptcy trustee Howard Ehrenberg, appointed in April, is skeptical about ghosts aboard the Queen Mary.

"I haven't seen a single one," he said.

Since its retirement, the Queen Mary has been moored near the harbor of Long Beach, the second-busiest port in the U.S.

Long Beach, with 5 million visitors, has tried to raise the city's profile. Its largest event is the Long Beach Grand Prix, a road race that draws an estimated 300,000 people over three days.

The Queen Mary hasn't fared as well, averaging about 1.2 million visitors a year and annual revenue of $36 million.

The ship shares the neighborhood with container trucks, cranes, oil pumpers, parking lots, a Carnival Corp. cruise terminal and a geodesic dome that once housed Howard Hughes's Spruce Goose. The dome has been half empty since the aircraft was bought and moved to Oregon several years ago.

Joseph Prevratil, 69, has run the Queen Mary on and off for the past quarter century. He said he has done much to improve its finances since taking over the lease in 1993, after Walt Disney Co. scuttled plans for a theme park.

Prevratil now is blamed by the city for putting the Queen Mary in limbo. There's a floor price of $38 million for the lease and development rights. Among other suggestions that have been dismissed, an unidentified Arab sheik has offered to haul the Queen Mary to a desert.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said last month he was encouraged by the settlement and looked forward to the "ultimate resolution." A city spokesman didn't respond to a request for further comment. The settlement requires Prevatil to use the sale proceeds to pay the city and his creditors.

"I went from being the savior of the ship to the guy in trouble with the city," said Prevratil, sitting behind a desk he says was used by Churchill.

Prevratil settled with the city Nov. 21, two years after he accused Long Beach of reneging on a deal to allow him to take a $7 million discount on his monthly rent $25,000 plus as much as 5 percent of the ship's yearly revenue.

Before the row with the city, Prevratil borrowed as much as $24 million, aiming to develop the neighborhood in a $200 million project. He planned hotels, a science-fiction museum and an ice rink. None of it appeared.

His most lucrative inspiration is the annual Halloween Shipwreck, when parts of the ship and parking lot are converted into creepy mazes. This year's event brought in $1.5 million, of which $1 million was profit, he said.

With that success, Prevratil says he has yet to see a ghost.

"A psychic said the ghosts are afraid of me," he said. "I'm sure if you ask some of the city people, they'd probably agree with the ghosts."

Jim Warfield
12-22-2006, 08:12 PM
There was some talk about rebuilding the dam in the creek behind Ravens Grin, we could float a boat in there then, I'd accept that lowly little 36 Million dollars annual income, yes I would! I'd make it work out for me somehow?

12-24-2006, 09:33 AM
Check this out...

The story mentions that the haunted house grosses over 1.5 million and makes a 1 million dollar profit...

Yeah, that's what jumped out at me as well. Love to have that kind of budget!

12-24-2006, 10:21 AM
last time I went to their event, it had 5 different mazes. They also run a 3D attraction at the county fair. I think they are also Shipwreck Productions out in Socal, but not 100% sure there. But yup, they get good biz there.

12-24-2006, 11:03 AM
Larry.... you could move it to your next of the woods.... I think it would look damn nice with the arch behind it as a backdrop. :)

Greg Chrise
12-24-2006, 02:41 PM
Doing the numbers, they must have done 50,000 people at 7 haunts but, alas the overhead? The rent is only now 25.000 per month a mere 300,000 per year but the 5% of every proceed to the city is a flleting thing, that makes all the events that are now succesful in the range of $75,000 per month.

I know all of the paranormal events have been highly successful but certainly not to the tune of 1 mil in gains. Plus 13 years and origionally starting out with 24 million borrowed and perhaps only the past few years being a success?

It seems lots of money has gone somewhere and the city expects more?

It doesn't matter how great the event, the landlord cannot be your partner and it must have low or no owed overhead. Unless you have attorneys and a Swiss Bank account and are at retirement age. I know I could spend $1 million dollars.

Jim Warfield
12-24-2006, 10:28 PM
Getting one of those brand new steel buildings, say about 100,000 sq. ft. for $90,000? and then put sheet metal over the front to look like a ship might be a cheaper, better way to go.
I'm not sure on that price but today I saw another metal building co. ad that seemed extremely cheap, maybe even alot less than $90,000 for that size of a structure?
Maybe their steel beams are really toothpicks glued together with Elmer's glue, then a metallic spray covers up these facts?

Greg Chrise
12-25-2006, 12:17 AM
There must be a bigger picture where the man got screwed by the city. They buy this boat that was instrumental to sneaking around troups in WW II and had Winston Churchill officed on it. The city buys if for a Gazillion dollars and then gets a private enterprise with a few million with promises to develop the neighborhood into a skating rink and an arcade area. It is located near the hanger of the Spruce Goose and who knows what else.

So the ship is sitting in the harbor since the 60's, this guy came in in the 90's and Now he is 69 and had enough. Just last week another ship, an aircraft carrier of the same vintage took quite a bit of work to get free and take to be refurbished. Now a week later this one is for sale. So the city isn't willing to spend another gazzilion dollars for a remodel and so it is all this guys fault for not making them 10 times a gazillion dollars but, they set up the rules. I hope he did pocket the gazzilion dollars and has a nice retirement.

The bigger picture would be that just a month ago there was a big corporate solicitation for work across the nation to see what WW II ship would be remodeled and pay them a gazillion dollars. This sparked the city board to decide it was an overwhelming project that caught this administration of short term thinkers by surprise. It needs what? The engineers said this? We can't raise taxes so put it on ebay!

He was a smart man, instead of building things he put in big parking lots. A parking lot in the big picture facilitates more money than a skating rink.

In reality you would require 7 buildings of the 10,000 variety with nice facades on about 15 acres and 7 to 10 acres of parking. It might cost half a mill right out of the box?

Let's see.

$150K in advertising,
7 haunts at 60K each is $420K
Facilities development of about $40K for 20 acres to start.
The land cost $200K
Staffing $200K

Yep $1,010,000 to see 50,000 people at $20 plus T-shirts to break even.
Send me a deposit and I'll get started on it!

So if you have this $25,000 to $75,000 per month ticket hanging on you you never really get free as that is $900,000. If it isn't paid on time there is this big intrest on it. Plus wear and tear every year. He got to keep maybe the cotton candy money his Uncle Lou made for him.

12-25-2006, 04:12 PM
The Halloween event last time I was there was 25 dollars as an all in one admission, I think the dance club portion was extra.

Several of the mazes were in the Village section which has a bunch of shops and stores, most of which seem to be empty.

There is a hotel on the ship. No idea how much per night, though.

Regular non Halloween tours are also on but draw very little.

Hollywood had been renting out the dome for movie making. The sets for AI and The Haunting were filmed in there.

Joseph Prevratil seems to be in charge of the ship proper and his son Eric and someone else run the Halloween events.

No idea on the financials otherwise.

Greg Chrise
12-25-2006, 04:40 PM

Unfortunately it looks like an older large event like this gets a bit cheesy if you look at the pictures of the mazes past and present. Yet 50,000 people still arrive and pay $30 a piece?

The hotel and restaurants appear to be attempting to be top notch while perhaps the haunts might have been degrading the facility? It looks like some of the paint is actually on the inner hull and galley areas not just mazes set up.

The clean up after running that many people is immense. If you look at it from the perspective of a Historical Landmark Preservationist, some of this would require expensive sand blasting to remodel in the conservitive view of keeping things historical.

It sounds like a formula where for $25 to $30 (as it says on the website)you still might not see all of the mazes in one evening due to standing in line and wish to go back hoping the others are better? They aren't necessarily but, you are hoping if you have another $30. Or $90 plus for your prospective girl friend and her best friend chaparone.

It looks like being on the bay looks pretty.

Jim Warfield
12-25-2006, 05:25 PM
The "Public" never seases to amaze me, I have been asked numerous times "Where did you get that submarine?"
Yes, there is a submarine in my yard, I built it out of a few old 275 gallon fuel oil drums.
Has anybody really checked out this "Queen" closely? Maybe it's just a movie prop? hahaah!

12-26-2006, 03:29 AM
Wow, I think I may have left off the photo gallery page.