New details are emerging on the new Margaritaville amusement park after developers brought plans to the Biloxi Review Committee on Wednesday.
The Sun Herald has obtained a list of rides, including the first AEROBAR ride in the United States, along with the proposed opening time and the fact that a boardwalk with food trucks will be built.
Heavy equipment moved in a week ago to ready the lot just west of Margaritaville Resort Biloxi, and the plan is to have the park open by next spring, according to Barrington Development. The company restored the former Casino Magic site that stood empty after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and reopened it in 2016 as Margaritaville.
Now, phase II of development is starting with a 15 foot-wide boardwalk along the water. It will link to other walkways being constructed in East Biloxi as part of the city’s waterfront plan.
“This will be good for East Biloxi,” Jerry Creel, Biloxi’s community development director, said of the amusement park. “It’s family entertainment,” he said, which will appeal to locals and tourists.
In keeping with the Margaritaville theme — and to the delight of Parrotheads who follow all things Jimmy Buffett — one of the key attractions at the new amusement park is an AEROBAR, the first bar in the sky ride in the United States.
Riders are strapped in — like on a roller coaster — and sit facing each other in a circle with a bartender in the middle. The ride slowly rotates as it climbs 115 feet in the air — 137 feet with the two-story parking garage underneath. The ride takes 2 minutes to go up and down and 5 minutes on the top, according to the company website.
“It’s not a thrill ride — it’s a view ride,” said Cono Caranna, spokesman for Barrington Development.
Also making the most of the view of East Biloxi and out to the barrier islands off the coast of Biloxi will be a giant Ferris wheel. It’s made by the same manufacturer who built the 20-story high Sky View wheel that overlooks Atlanta. But Biloxi’s version will be even taller since the entire amusement park will be built atop a parking garage that will provide plenty of room in an area that has historically been short on parking spaces.
Other newly announced rides are:
▪ Galleon, a swinging pirate ship
The rides are on order from Europe, where amusements like this are manufactured. Precast sections of the parking garage are being poured at Tindall Corp. in Moss Point. After Labor Day and the end of the summer tourist season, the parts will be moved to the site and the garage will take only about 12 weeks to build, the developer said.
Escape family entertainment center already inside Margaritaville will be linked to the new amusement park. Caranna said the same card customers swipe to to play the video games, scale the climbing wall and ride the indoor zip line roller coaster inside Escape will be used to get on the rides at the amusement park.
Mississippi Power will bury the utility lines, the developer said, and palm trees will add more tropical feel to Margaritaville.
A second hotel tower will be built west of the amusement park in phase III of the Margaritaville Resort development, said Allen Young, engineer for the project.