Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NPN Exclusive: Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom Expansion Update + New Photos

It's been just over a month since we checked out the work underway at Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom, and in that time a ton of changes have taken place.  The $8 million expansion, celebrating the water park's 30th anniversary, will truly have the park looking brand new - and there are lots of changes for us to check out!

Before we even get into the park I noticed some special deliveries waiting out in the parking lot - here are two of the three launch capsules that will go on the top of the Python Plummet slides.  These will have riders stand on a drop floor at the start of the slide, and after being released riders drop straight down to start their journey.

Last time we saw how the original pool for the Oasis had been removed, and now the park is hard at work setting up a new Oasis in the corner of the Wildwater Cove wave pool.  The area has been sectioned off so that adults can enter, enjoy a beverage, and relax in the sun.

You'll have to ignore the very ominous clouds in the background in order to really appreciate the fresh new paint job that Island Water Works has received.  The structure was looking pretty rough last year, but now it looks arguably better than when it first opened!  The park is also working hard to get all the interactive elements back in operating order, or at least as many as they possibly can.

We also heard of plans for a new queue for Aquablast in our last update, and here we see the new waiting area mostly in place.  There's still some additional stairs to be put into place, but when complete this will help keep the extremely popular water slide's line from clogging up the nearby midway.  While not obvious in this photo, the supports for the slide are currently being prepped for a full repaint as well.  It is wonderful to see the park spend such a substantial amount (remember the whole support tower was replaced as well) to keep one of their star slides in tip top shape.

This year Fast Lane Plus will get riders on several Wildwater Kingdom attractions with a minimal wait, and in order for Aqua Racer to be a part of this a brand new second staircase had to be added.  Above, the second staircase is now in place with only some additional work needed before it is ready for use.

Just before we head over to check out Snake Pit, here's one shot of the new midway adjacent to Aqua Racer's entrance.  As mentioned in the earlier story, this section was very clogged and narrow, but the park has remedied that and created plenty of new room for folks to get around.

Vertical construction started on Snake Pit just a few days after our last visit, and as you can see above it has progressed quickly since then.  While I was at the park crews were busy lifting pieces of the support tower for the Python Plummet slides into place.  This perspective also shows off how tall the slides will appear from this area of Wildwater Kingdom.  Not that they aren't tall (65 feet), but with them located on the side of a hill they appear much taller in person!

Moving around to the other side of Snake Pit, we see a better view of what is in place so far.  Crews were seriously blasting through that tower during the day, in the early afternoon only two tall supports were up, and just a few hours later they were quickly filling in the side braces.

Also of note is that the pad has been poured that will hold the run out slides for Jumpin' Jack Splash, seen at the very bottom of this photo.  The actual troughs are not in place yet, but will be soon.

Pulling back, here is a wider shot of the entire structure.  One of the tube slides (a part of the Boa Blasters) has a good deal of its course already in place.  If you look close in the support structure you can see the double-down finale of the slide.

How about some nice shots from above?  We trekked to the top of the Aquablast structure for a slightly different view from last time, when we were at the top of Lightning Falls.  There's a great deal to check out in this photo - starting with how much the area has changed in a month's time.  Snake Pit's pump house (lower right) is nearly complete, along with the splash pool for Boa Blasters and the Constrictor.  The pad for the run outs of Python Plummet is also complete, seen in the background.

Snake Pit's entrance will be on the lower right, where machinery is starting to complete final grading before the queue is poured.  From there the lines will snake (pun totally intended) under the structure and up the towers.

The view from the top of the Python Plummet tower will be impressive, overlooking several major sections of Wildwater Kingdom.  By the time this story is published I have no doubt that this tower will be complete, with crews already having moved on to different sections!

Several sections of Boa Blasters are already hung on their supports, seen up close here.  The crane operators have to work to construct the tower much like a puzzle, making sure that each piece added does not restrict them from adding another.  Hopefully they have some sort of "install by numbers" guide to use.

Excuse the "through the existing slide tower" shot here, but I wanted to give an idea of just how many slide sections have been constructed and are awaiting placement.  You can see there are sections for all the slides, including blue for Boa Blasters, purple for the Constrictor, and yellow, red, and orange for Python Plummet.

Back on the ground, there are still more changes to check out.  Last time we stopped by the new locker building was just some concrete on the ground, but clearly that's changed.  The structure is now standing and is having final details applied like the roof and other theming elements.  Paint still needs to be applied to give the building a splash of color.

The inside of the 4,000 square foot structure is spacious, and will make things so much easier for guests - giving them more room to "breath" as they unpack and get ready for their day in the sun. 

This structure will accessible from the back as well, not seen in this photo is Talon which is immediately to the right of the walkway seen above.  This will allow guests to still get into their locker once the water park is closed for the day.  It will also be a great place to get some nice shots of Talon in operation, which I did not realize previously.

Speaking of the lockers, here's an example of the new ones that will populate the building.  Instead of having to carry around a key all day, guests will use a code to get into their locker.  The system was used last year at Cedar Point and quickly found success - no doubt the guests at Wildwater Kingdom will also love the ease of use gained from these.

Taking a step backward, we see the new midway currently being poured.  The new area extends from the end of the main changing rooms down to the Rita's and subsequent food buildings.  Above on the back left is the new shaded seating area that replaces a mishmash of old groves that dated back to Wildwater Kingdom's opening.

This is a better view of that new shaded rest area, taken from the backside.  The area will be filled with seats and tables, and some new fencing will eventually block the view above.  There will also be a fresh market set up in the center, offering snacks and other refreshments.  Needless to say the area is vastly improved over what was here previously!

This shot shows off just how different the part of the park now is, with the new locker facility and rest area extending along the length of Talon in the background. 

That's the update - for now at least!  With crews moving quickly as the opening day for Wildwater Kingdom approaches these photos will be outdated before too long.  Many thanks to the park's Vice President and General Manager, Mike Fehnel for taking me around for photos.  Can't wait to see the finished product!


cherie friedman said...

Just got in from opening weekend I love this park and I am so glad it is finally gettimg updated wwk needed it desperately can't wait to see snakepit sad to see the river ride go though. Love the new lockers can't wait 2 use them.