Enlargement makes OWA in Foley a year-round Alabama vacation spot
Destination of the Year

Enlargement makes OWA in Foley a year-round Alabama vacation spot

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 monitor all agree – Tropic Falls at OWA rocks.

However Tropic Falls at OWA is not only for points of interest on land (or within the air, in the event you’re on one of many curler coasters or different thrill rides). The brand new Tropic Falls Indoor Water Park is the most important on the Gulf Coast; the undertaking is maybe OWA’s most formidable enlargement up to now.

“From an funding standpoint, that is the largest single attraction we have now had,” says Kristin Hellmich, OWA’s director of selling and public relations, in regards to the $74 million undertaking beneath a 100,000-square-foot roof. “The waterpark prices greater than your entire authentic theme park from after we first opened.

“We needed an indoor water park partly due to our climate. It was a part of our total imaginative and prescient after we first opened,” she says. “It’s an ideal choice to get out of the solar, rain or chilly. It’s enjoyable indoors with out feeling like you might be indoors.”

The mammoth endeavor is a two-phase rollout. Part 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 a brilliant loop and drop ground.

Part two, accomplished later in the summertime, features a 30,000-square-foot out of doors wave pool, a surf simulator and extra eating and beverage areas.

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 be endeavor a $2.5 million rebranding undertaking. Henceforth, the theme park and points of interest can be often called Tropic Falls at OWA. “It consists of every part behind the theme park and water park single gate,” Hellmich says.

Enlargement makes OWA in Foley a year-round Alabama vacation spot
Tropic Falls, residence to the most important indoor waterpark within the Southeastern U.S., is now open at OWA Parks & Resort. (OWA)

One thing for everybody

OWA has two parts – Tropic Falls, which incorporates the theme park and water park aspect, and Downtown OWA, with outlets, reveals, eating places and gathering spots.

“Most individuals don’t notice how huge OWA is,” Hellmich says. “It’s a lot greater than it seems to be from the highway.”

The complicated spans 520 acres. Tropic Falls is 14 acres and the lake separating the 2 sides is greater than a mile in diameter. Plan not less than 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 among the finest 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 faculty youngsters. However others, typically an older crowd, go to for a great 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 transferring to second place with spring. We absolutely embrace Halloween season right here.”

Peak season begins round Memorial Day as OWA prepares for summer season. The huge Fourth of July fireworks presentation is without doubt one of the largest on the Gulf Coast.

The vacation season begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19.

Eateries and outlets

Hellmich factors to Paula Deen’s Household Kitchen restaurant, well-known for its fried hen, however with a brand new providing for diners. “By the way, she simply added shrimp and grits to her menu.”

Different culinary adventures, Hellmich mentioned, 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 affords loads of selection, so does Downtown OWA’s purchasing district – from effective jewellery to clothes to jellybeans. One of many latest outlets, Native Treasures, affords crafts, jewellery and clothes constituted of or impressed by Native Individuals.

Downtown additionally consists of the Fairhope Cleaning soap Firm, Alvin’s Island Tropical Division Retailer, the Spice and Tea Trade and Physique Tune Plus.

In Downtown OWA, Homicide Creek Distillery sells Alabama-made moonshine. (OWA)

One other new spot lifts the spirits with Alabama moonshine. Homicide Creek Distillery is so named for Escambia County’s tributary with the charming title. Pattern tastings can be found for brews, starting from mild and gentle to sturdy drinks.

OWA doesn’t launch attendance information, however Hellmich says, “Our attendance is important and has grown yearly since startup.” She credit the positioning’s reputation to nice worth and high quality points of interest. However company are additionally drawn right here by a behind-the-scenes issue – cleanliness.

OWA is cleaner than your front room. “We’ve got folks complimenting our cleanliness,” Hellmich says. “Our crews work almost around the clock preserving 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 season months the quantity swells to as many as 700. Of that, about half will work within the new water park.

As for at the moment’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 seashore factor, down the highway.

However in Foley, twisting and turning above all of it, Rollin’ Thunder rolls once more.

For extra info, contact visitowa.com.

This story initially appeared in Alabama Residing journal.