The Park at OWA opened in coastal Foley, Ala. In 2017 and has been rapidly expanding. In 2018, the park debuted their Wacky Waters splash pad and water play area, along with shaded rest areas, and air-conditioned quick-service dining areas. Just adjacent to the park is the dining destination area called Downtown OWA, there was the addition of an Italian restaurant in October 2018, Trattoria Pizza & Italian, which joined the upscale burger chain Wahlburgers as a sit-down eatery attraction adjoining the amusement park itself. Downtown OWA is free to all guests, all the time.
This summer, the park has a variety of specials:
- The Park at OWA Summer Special - $29.99. All day, any day, all summer
General Admission $29.99
Junior Admission (48” and below) $24.99
Under 3 free
Season Pass $79.99
- A Day Pass wristband
- A Non-Rider pass for those who don't want to ride the rides but enjoy other park amenities.
And now, summer 2019 brought a new dark ride to the park, which the park promoted in advance of the attraction opening in part through an online voting contest for the ride's name: Alabama Ghost Adventure, Mystic Mansion, or Midnight Maze was up for grabs. Each voting participant was entered into a contest to win four free park tickets. The winning name was Mystic Mansion.
The dark ride is an enclosed, air-conditioned attraction built by the Sally Corporation. Ride cars will seat four, and the attraction features an interactive game play component peopled with lighthearted “fright” characters. Guests take their ride car through what The Park at OWA's Hellmich calls a “midway-style” attraction, with neon colors, black light effects, and a mysteriously spooky storyline.
Before hopping inside their “Doom Buggy,” guests are greeted by Professor Phearstruck in the queue line, where he explains the history of Mystic Mansion, its curse and who haunts it now. There are 15 different scenes in which the Mansion's ghost could appear; riders weave through the family-friendly attraction and a spooky storyline featuring the main ghost: Boocifer.
New in the dining area of OWA for 2019 is a new restaurant from Southern icon Paula Deen.
Developed in record time between 2015 and 2017 by The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, The Park at OWA was the first new amusement park opened in North America for a decade when it began. Along with 22 amusement park rides and the 10,000-square-foot Wacky Waters attraction, which is only open during spring and summer months, the park includes a range of midway games.
Centered on a vast lake, the 14-acre park includes retail and dining options, along with entertainment such as a March parade event for Mardi Gras and concerts in the downtown area of OWA. Also in Downtown OWA: Legends in Concert, the longest-running show in Las Vegas, has announced its new residency at a 430-seat theater adjacent to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott.
According to director of marketing and PR Kristin Hellmich, the broad 520-acre site in which the amusement park is located has a master plan that includes expanded offerings for the park, retail and concert venues in the downtown areas. The park itself has another 16-acres allocated for rides which will more than double its current size. Park visitors can stay overnight at the Marriott TownPlace Suites hotel; OWA's master plan calls for the construction of condominiums and an RV park as well.
Many of the rides have a distinctly retro vibe. “The park is very much a throwback…it's an amusement park not a theme park,” Hellmich says “Our retail/dining destination, which you find right outside the park gate, is reminiscent of what you would see at a Downtown Disney or Universal City Walk.” There is also a shopping and dining district called the Warehouse District. The park serves as both a community destination vacation destination.
Among the park's most popular rides to date is Rollin' Thunder, a coaster with a vertical lift and four inversions that resembles Zamperla's Coney Island attraction, the Thunderbolt coaster. Other thrill rides includes Zamperla's Twister and Wave Rider.
Also popular is Zamperla's Endeavor ride, Alabama Wham'a. The family-friendly coaster Southern Express, and the Wave Rider Disk O Coaster are also strong draws. Family rides like the spinning tea cups, Tea Time, and the Aero Zoom, which features rider-controlled glider wings, are among the other rides offered.
Zamperla is the main ride manufacturer involved with the attractions at the park, and provided all the initial rides for the park. Hellmich says the reason for initially selected a single ride vendor was in part due to the fast-track construction of the park itself. “We looked at who offered the diversity, quality and speed of service to produce what we needed in the timeline we had. That drove us to Zamperla. We are definitely open to working with other manufacturers as we move forward.”
As to the Wacky Waters Splash Pad which debuted last summer, the water play area includes a 20-foot tall dump bucket, a “tree” that showers guests with 54 gallons of water per minute, a six-foot water dome, and other sprayers and water play attractions. It is located near the kiddie rides at the dry amusement park. Hellmich says the splash pad was built in part due to guest feedback. “Our guests spoke about recommended improvements to the amusement park, and we listened.”
The $500-million amusement park was named the Attraction of the Year in 2018 by the Alabama Tourism Department.
The park has extensive promotion on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; while attendance numbers have been kept close, park attendance grew in 2018 with its first full summer season, over the park's 2017 opening. Attendance and enthusiasm continue to build for the attraction this summer.