Rising 114 ft above Baldwin County, Rollin’ Thunder’s passengers can view the Gulf of Mexico all the way in which from Foley. However not for lengthy.
Inside seconds, curler coaster followers plunge at 56 mph by way of twisted paths, hairpin turns and a harrowing straightway. Passengers disembarking the expansive blue observe all agree – Tropic Falls at OWA rocks.
However Tropic Falls at OWA is now not only for sights on land (or within the air, for those who’re on one of many curler coasters or different thrill rides). The brand new Tropic Falls Indoor Water Park is the biggest on the Gulf Coast; the mission is probably OWA’s most bold growth to this point.
“From an funding standpoint, that is the largest single attraction now we have had,” says Kristin Hellmich, OWA’s director of selling and public relations, concerning the $74 million mission beneath a 100,000-square-foot roof. “The waterpark prices greater than your complete unique theme park from after we first opened.
“We wished an indoor water park partly due to our climate. It was a part of our general imaginative and prescient after we first opened,” she says. “It’s a fantastic choice to get out of the solar, rain or chilly. It’s enjoyable indoors with out feeling like you’re indoors.”
The mammoth enterprise is a two-phase rollout. Section one opened June 29 with six thrill slides, a lazy river, indoor eating, celebration rental rooms, an indoor arcade and a youngsters’s play space with 5 family-friendly slides. Two thrill slides rise to new heights: Tangerine Scream, a 75-foot free-fall, and Piranha Plunge, additionally 75 ft tall with an excellent loop and drop flooring.
Section two, accomplished later in the summertime, features a 30,000-square-foot outside wave pool, a surf simulator and extra eating and beverage places.
Tropic Falls is the one indoor waterpark within the U.S. with each a retractable roof and wall. The park is open year-round.
Further options embrace Castaway Creek/Lazy River, non-public celebration rooms, non-public cabanas, Grub (a quick-service restaurant) and Libations, a tropical-themed cocktail bar.
OWA can also be enterprise a $2.5 million rebranding mission. Henceforth, the theme park and sights shall be generally known as Tropic Falls at OWA. “It contains the whole lot behind the theme park and water park single gate,” Hellmich says.
One thing for everybody
OWA has two elements – Tropic Falls, which incorporates the theme park and water park aspect, and Downtown OWA, with retailers, exhibits, eating places and gathering spots.
“Most individuals don’t understand how massive OWA is,” Hellmich says. “It’s a lot larger than it seems from the street.”
The advanced spans 520 acres. Tropic Falls is 14 acres and the lake separating the 2 sides is greater than a mile in diameter. Plan at the least a day to see all of it – and that doesn’t embrace the brand new water park. Add one other day for that.
“I imagine probably the greatest values we provide at OWA is one thing for all,” Hellmich says. “Some come for the theme park rides, together with teenagers and spring breakers, and school youngsters. However others, usually an older crowd, go to for a very good meal and to soak up a present. We aren’t only a theme park. We aren’t only a water park. We’re a year-round leisure vacation spot for everyone.”
Emphasis is on year-round. “Summer time is our peak season,” she says. “However fall/autumn is shifting to second place with spring. We totally embrace Halloween season right here.”
Peak season begins round Memorial Day as OWA prepares for summer time. The huge Fourth of July fireworks presentation is among the largest on the Gulf Coast.
The vacation season begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19.
Eateries and retailers
Hellmich factors to Paula Deen’s Household Kitchen restaurant, well-known for its fried rooster, however with a brand new providing for diners. “By the way, she simply added shrimp and grits to her menu.”
Different culinary adventures, Hellmich stated, embrace the Groovy Goat, Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill, Sushi Co., Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant, and C’est Le Vin Wine Bar and Store.
Simply because the theme park gives quite a lot of selection, so does Downtown OWA’s buying district – from superb jewellery to clothes to jellybeans. One of many latest retailers, Native Treasures, gives crafts, jewellery and clothes constituted of or impressed by Native People.
Downtown additionally contains the Fairhope Cleaning soap Firm, Alvin’s Island Tropical Division Retailer, the Spice and Tea Change and Physique Tune Plus.
One other new spot lifts the spirits with Alabama moonshine. Homicide Creek Distillery is so named for Escambia County’s tributary with the charming identify. Pattern tastings can be found for brews, starting from light and gentle to sturdy drinks.
OWA doesn’t launch attendance information, however Hellmich says, “Our attendance is critical and has grown yearly since startup.” She credit the location’s recognition to nice worth and high quality sights. However friends are additionally drawn right here by a behind-the-scenes issue – cleanliness.
OWA is cleaner than your front room. “We’ve individuals complimenting our cleanliness,” Hellmich says. “Our crews work almost around the clock protecting the grounds and restrooms, all areas clear. It’s a precedence.”
With cleanliness comes security. All rides are checked each day, evaluated earlier than the theme park opens and monitored intently all through the day.
In winter, the park has about 100 workers, however throughout the peak summer time months the quantity swells to as many as 700. Of that, about half will work within the new water park.
As for as we speak’s go to, Tropic Falls guests eagerly board rides together with Aero Zoom, Loopy Mouse, Alabama Wham’a and about 20 extra. Close by, there may be that Gulf Shores seaside factor, down the street.
However in Foley, twisting and turning above all of it, Rollin’ Thunder rolls once more.
For extra data, contact visitowa.com.
This story initially appeared in Alabama Dwelling journal.