Thursday, September 16, 2010

Water park to break ground near Savannah,GA

After years of rumors and speculation about a water park being built in Chatham County, the permits are granted, the principals have finalized the deals, and the groundbreaking is set for this week.
Pirates Cove Water Park is slated to be open for business by next summer at the intersection of Interstate 95 and Ga. 204.
"This project has a lot of 'wow' factor associated with it," said Robert Welch, lead consultant and park general manager. "The investment has doubled to $12.5 million since the initial concept was presented, and the first phase is under way."
Highlights include:
-- A 10-acre facility with 5 acres of paved and lit parking
-- A million-dollar children's play structure
-- An 18,000-square-foot wave pool
-- Year-round operation
-- A performance stage
-- Local seasonal passes
-- A beach volleyball pit
-- A half basketball court
Welch, who worked for Walt Disney and helped develop the concept for Epcot Center and other attractions, has opened 17 water parks around the world.
"We take the Disney philosophy and focus on guest care and make the experience enjoyable," he said.
To make that happen, you need a well-informed staff and an atmosphere of accountability, Welch said.
"I use a 10/20 approach. You have 10 seconds to observe a problem and 20 seconds to fix it."
To eliminate long lines for refreshments, Welch said kiosks and carts will be placed throughout the park.
"At the end of the day, we ask all our guests to fill out a survey," he said. "I don't want anyone to complain that they had to wait in line for an hour just to get a soda or a bottle of water."
Welch said he realizes the park is part of the community, and it will use local vendors and domestic manufacturers for themed merchandise.
"We expect to be the model," he said. "We'll offer better prices and provide a different environment."
The project is expected to employ as many as 200 full- and part-time permanent and temporary workers, including lifeguards, security and medical personnel and typical theme-park employees.
"We understand not everyone will end up with a career in this field," Welch said. "So we'll have a mix of kids who want summer work and those who want to move up the ladder."
The investors recently approached the Savannah Economic Development Authority with the project. And although SEDA typically works with major manufacturers and large industrial companies, officials there are looking into how the agency may fit with their organization.
"Our focus is always on job creation and generating investment income in the area," said SEDA projects manager Gerald Mitchell. "We were recently made aware of the opportunity, and we're exploring the possibility of our involvement."
As far as tourism goes, Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, said the water park would be a great addition to the family entertainment already offered.
"Our options for children and families are more unconventional with attractions such as the Juliet Gordon Low House, the Roundhouse Museum and Ships of the Sea Museum," he said. "This will be a great opportunity for families to extend their stay and see another side of Savannah."
Hotels near the park are sure to see a surge in visitors, he said.
"This has the potential, if marketed properly, to be a great halfway stop for people on their way to Fort Lauderdale or Orlando," he said. "There's an opportunity to grow a new customer base."
Coming summer 2011
The outdoor facility will offer a family-friendly atmosphere with slides, rides and other attractions for all ages. The park is expected to generate as many as 200 full- and part-time seasonal and permanent positions.

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