By amusementtoday | September 26, 2013
Story began his theme park career in 1972 as a seasonal employee at Six Flags Over Mid-America in park operations and retail. After graduating from the University of Missouri, he held various positions at Six Flags Over Mid-America until 1982. From 1982 to 1984 he worked in a consulting role in two new parks: Luna Park in Sydney, Australia, and Diversiones del Reino in Mexico City, Mexico. He returned to the United States to work for Tierco Properties as the general manager of Frontier City theme park in Oklahoma City in 1984. Under his leadership Frontier City’s attendance and revenues quadrupled.
Tierco continued to acquire parks starting with White Water waterpark, Oklahoma City, in 1991, then the financially troubled Wild World, Largo, Maryland in 1992. Following the acquisition of Wild World, Story was promoted to president and chief operating officer. In 1994 Gary Story and Chief Financial Office Kieran Burke changed the name of the company to Premier Parks Inc. Story was instrumental in driving the growth of Premier Parks from a three-park company to one of the largest regional theme park operators in the world. In 1998 Premier Parks acquired Six Flags Inc., and changed the name in 2000 from Premier Parks to Six Flags Inc. By that time the new Six Flags operated 39 parks in eight countries.
Story and Burke were ousted from Six Flags in 2004 following a hostile takeover, but the two remained in the amusement industry, eventually forming a new Premier Attractions Management company that managed several parks owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties.
IAAPA Chairman Will Morey commented, “Gary had a boundless passion for the industry and was an avid supporter and contributor to IAAPA throughout his career.”
“Gary contributed a great deal to IAAPA and was an impassioned promoter of our industry,” said IAAPA President and CEO Paul Noland. “We are sorry to hear the news of his passing. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Story was very involved in his community with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Rotary Club, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts of America, the State Fair of Oklahoma, and UNICEF. He is survived by his wife Lorena and his three children.
The funeral service will be this Friday, September 27 at noon.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
900 South Littler Avenue (at 9th and Boulevard)
Edmond, OK 73034