Business

Gulf Coast’s first indoor waterpark hotel is on the way with $100M expansion

Two years after The Park at OWA opened in Foley, Alabama, the amusement park is about to grow by $100 million.

Construction of Phase II will begin this summer and will add a 100,000-square-foot indoor waterpark that will have water attractions open all year and in all types of weather.

Also part of the expansion are a 200-room resort hotel with conference space plus a luxury family RV park.

The RV park tentatively is scheduled to open at the end of 2019 and the hotel and indoor waterpark in early 2021.

While indoor hotel waterparks are popular in the Northeast and now in the Atlanta area, the only other indoor waterpark the owners could find on the Gulf Coast is The Kroc Center, operated by The Salvation Army in Biloxi.

“We chose to start the next phase with a large indoor waterpark because it allows our guests a year-round opportunity to play in the water,” said Kristin Hellmich, OWA’s director of marketing and public relations. “Whether it’s cooling off their summer sun burns or escaping cold temperatures, this exciting new amenity will provide never-ending thrills.”

It hasn’t been decided yet whether the waterpark will be for hotel guests only or if it will be open to the public, she said.

OWA (pronounced oh-wah) opened in July 2017 and now has 22 attractions, one of which is a splash pad. It is operated by Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, the economic development arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which also owns a casino site in D’Iberville.

Adjacent to the park is Downtown, a shopping and dining attraction that is open with no admission fee. A Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, a Southern-style restaurant and gifts, will open there soon.

With this expansion of OWA, total investment at the park will exceed $350 million.

“Being a substantial economic driver for the State of Alabama, we have continually invested into OWA’s diverse entertainment offerings in an effort to provide visitors and residents with a one-of-a-kind resort experience,” said Cody Williamson, president/CEO of CIEDA.

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.
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