Lake Winnepesaukah officials on Wednesday broke ground on SoakYa, a five-acre water entertainment complex scheduled to open during the summer 2013 season. The waterpark is the first major expansion of the 88-year-old amusement park since the 1960s, when the park doubled in size and added two signature attractions: the antique wooden carrousel and the world-famous wooden Cannon Ball Roller Coaster.
"Lake Winnepesaukah has a hard to say and even harder to spell name,” said Talley Green, public relations director, “but through the years that name has become synonymous with family fun in our region. That’s why we chose SoakYa, a spirited play on our name, for the waterpark that is a perfect complement to our amusement complex.
Wednesday’s groundbreaking signals the start of an aggressive five-month construction schedule that calls for completion of the waterpark attraction in time for a Memorial Day weekend debut, two months after the amusement park opens for the 2013 season. Aquatic Builders Ltd., a division of master plan design and engineering firm Aquatic Development Group, will lead the park’s construction along with locally-based contractors. The development will create 100 temporary construction jobs and up to 60 new seasonal positions upon completion.
The multi-million-dollar waterpark will feature a lazy river and wave lagoon. Clusters of flume body slides and enclosed tubes – some for single riders, some for multiple riders – will dot the landscape. A multi-lane racer slide will send dueling riders on a refreshing plunge into a pool while toddlers will be entertained in a shallow splash park with pint-sized slides and water play equipment. Covered and uncovered lounge seating, retail shops, concessions and a changing facility with lockers will allow families to enjoy a day-long stay at the park.
“The beginning of the year also marks a new beginning for Lake Winnie,” said Chris Jones, architect. “The owners have committed themselves to building a first-class waterpark and ‘doing it right’. With the start of construction, a dream is on its way to reality. A former parking lot will soon be transformed into a colorful array of exciting water rides, water features, man-made hills and lush landscaping creating an oasis of fun and laughter. Did I mention water? Lots of water.”
The first phase of the waterpark will be developed on the west side of the amusement park between the Cannon Ball Roller Coaster and the lake. The five-acre vacant tract of land has recently served as overflow parking for concerts and other major events. Subsequent waterpark expansions could triple the water entertainment complex’s size in years to come.
Lake Winnepesaukah will open the 2013 season with a $26 general admission rate ($10 for children two and under and senior citizens), which is consistent with 2012 ticket prices. During the summer months, guests will enjoy two parks for one admission price. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, general admission will be $31.95 ($15.95 for children two and under and senior citizens). General admission will revert back to the $26 rate for the remainder of the 2013 season when SoakYa closes for the season in early fall. SoakYa will be accessible through the main park entrance only.
The facility was designed by architect Christopher M. Jones of North Palm Beach, Fla., and Aquatic Development Group of Cahoes, N.Y., both of which have extensive waterpark development experience. The park will feature “Made in the USA” slides and other water play equipment designed, engineered and manufactured by North Carolina-based AquaBlue International. Chattanooga-based CapitalMark Bank & Trust will finance the expansion.