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New Indoor Waterpark Coming to Frankenmuth, Michigan
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Especially in the winter months, families crave some warm water splashes and thrills, away from the snow and cold. That fun will be coming big time to Frankenmuth, Mich., and its Little Bavaria community, at the Bavarian Inn Lodge. 2024 will bring the planned completing of the lodge's new Bavarian Blast waterpark.

The Lodge is already presently home to a large arcade with 160 redemption games, as well as a pool and two waterslides. But the new indoor waterpark expansion is underway, and is the Lodge's largest since a facilities expansion in the mid-1990s.

The mammoth indoor waterpark is projected to cost $80 million, and along with the waterpark itself, it will include a 3-story ropes course, laser tag, Rockin' and Rollin' mini bowling, and a two-story climbing wall. When complete, the new complex will be the largest indoor waterpark and family fun center in Michigan, with more than 140,000 square feet of attractions for guests to enjoy – the size of 2 and a half football fields.

Also new will be several dozen new video games for the existing arcade, and a large seating area that can be rented for birthday parties, group, and corporate events.

The park's façade will be designed to fit right in with the Bavarian style architecture of the lodge and the community that surrounds it. Despite the charming, traditional European look, the facilities will be state-of-the-art. On the roof, an OpenAire-designed skylight will let the sunshine in. The retractable roof and skylight design and manufacturing company is placing an all-aluminum skylight in the waterpark, one which the company asserts will never need repair from rust, corrosion, or decay, which are common occurrences due to the elements at many indoor waterparks. The Bavarian Inn Lodge team is excited by the design and the materials, which should keep the massive skylight maintenance-free down the line.

OpenAire is well regarded in the construction of retractable roof and skylights, and recently celebrated the opening of a new indoor retractable roof waterpark at Tropic Falls Waterpark at OWA in Foley, Alabama.

The Bavarian Inn Lodge is working on the park in conjunction with general contractors RC Hendrick & Son, Inc. along with OpenAire; Hendrick has worked on six previous iterations of the Lodge expansions over the years. RCI Adventure Products of Allegan, Mich. is also a part of the waterpark construction.

Bavarian Inn Lodge president Michael Zehnder says the lodge is delighted to work with this team on the expansion. He adds that the new waterpark will “help us to advance our goal of creating fun and enjoyable experiences for all ages,” adding that the expansion will be an “exciting project for all of Frankenmuth” when complete.

RCI Adventure Products director Ronda Hulst, says “It is always exciting to put together a project with a local Michigan company, noting that “we are excited to put in the first ropes course of its kind with a unique bell on the Walk the Plank…” The bell features a design that's specific to the Bavarian heritage of the lodge and the region.  

Along with the innovatively designed Walk the Plank, the multi-level indoor ropes course will also include Zig-Zag beams, balance beams, a Zip Line, bridges, and Rolling Log attractions.

The new waterpark expansion will open during the fall of 2024, however some of the new family fun center areas will open this spring.

The expanded waterpark will include a wave pool, 16 new water slides, new areas for smaller kids and toddlers to splash and play, and a “not so lazy” river. There will also be an indoor/outdoor family spa. The slides will include a variety of body slides, tube slides, single rider, and up to six-rider slides. They'll vary between thrill slides and gentle attractions geared toward little kids, for a total of 20 new attractions in all.

The waterpark expansion will also feature luxe private cabanas, and for adults, Michigan's first swim-up bar. The bar will serve as an “oasis only for the adults” with large-screen TVs, shareable punch bowl drinks, and tropical cocktails.

Once finished, the Bavarian Blast will position the Bavarian Inn Lodge as Michigan's largest indoor waterpark and family entertainment center, and serve as a strong attraction for the community, which already draws over 3 million visitors to its European charm. Frankenmuth is home to the largest Christmas store in the nation, covered wooden bridges, and a large host of Bavarian-style architecture.

The Bavarian Inn Lodge has been operating for 37 years and is now under the auspices of the 4th generation of Zehnder family members.

Despite the large-scale nature of the expansion, the lodge and its current fun center remain open. Positioned along the scenic Cass River, the resort currently offers 360 German-themed guest rooms and two restaurants, as well as a 2-story children's play village and an indoor mini-golf course, Wiley's Kingdom.

Zehnder says the new project will provide "unique attractions and new types of experiences within our resort, for all ages."

The Zehnder family also runs Frankenmuth's Splash Village and Waterpark, which offers 50,000 square-feet of waterpark activities including a six-story family raft ride and super loop body slide; a zero-entry activity pool that features water geysers, and water basketball and volleyball features. The Splash Village park also includes an Action River, the Splash Landing play area, a large Dumping Bucket, two 4-story tube slide attractions, a lazy river, and hot tub.
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