Scottsdale’s CrackerJax entertainment park sold to Arizona tech billionaire

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Saturday, April 23, 2022 - 2:44pm

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Two longtime family entertainment businesses, Tempe’s Big Surf and Scottsdale’s CrackerJax, have been sold to large companies with plans to use the land for other purposes.

Mark Stapp is the executive director of Arizona State University's Real Estate Development program. He says older establishments are hard to keep operational and even more expensive to keep updated with changing entertainment standards.

“These two in particular are, you know, somewhat iconic, but they're obsolete. And when you look at the change in metropolitan Phoenix, this is, I think, normal. I mean, there's higher and better uses for these properties,” said Stapp.

Big Surf Waterpark
Jean Clare Sarmiento/KJZZ
Big Surf Waterpark on McClintock Road just north of the Red Mountain Loop 202 opened in 1969, and its wave pool was one of the first of its kind.

Stapp says these closures are similar to the 1983 closure of the Legend City amusement park and are just indicative of a changing metropolitan area.

“They simply can’t generate enough revenue out of the current use to warrant existing in that location, when you look at what's going on all around it,” said Stapp.

Big Surf was sold to California-based commercial real estate company Overton Moore Properties, while CrackerJax was purchased by Arizona tech billionaire George Kurtz, who plans to open a research campus to bolster Scottsdale’s tech sector.