Wild Adventures Theme Park, just off I-75 near Valdosta, will open for its 16th year on March 17, and the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County got a sneak look at the upcoming season from park representative Sarah Pitts at their February 6 meeting.
A big draw for the park is its annual concert schedule. This year’s lineup features a number of current headliners and well-known performers from genres across the music world. Included on various dates are performers such as Thompson Square, The Band Perry, Styx, Mandisa, Boston, Kutless, and World Class Rockers, among others. The country group Sugarland, featuring Douglas native Jennifer Nettles, is also slated, with the date to be determined. (Dates for concert performances can be found at the park’s website, www.wildadventures.com.)
Average attendance at the park on a summer Saturday is 10,000-12,000, Pitts estimated. A previous concert appearance by Lady Antebellum drew up to 17,000, she said, and she expects Sugarland would attract even more.
After emerging from bankruptcy in 2007, Wild Adventures is now owned and operated by Hershend Family Entertainment, a company that for more than 50 years has owned, operated, or partnered in 26 properties over 10 states, including Silver City in Branson, Mo., Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, and Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country in Tennessee. According to Pitts, although the park is closed during winter months, there are 85 year-round employees. When the park is open and operating, it takes 750 workers to run it, she added.
There were not any big capital expenditures in advance of this year’s opening, said Pitts. Instead, there were “little things that enhance it for visitors,” such as new cabanas, and added shade and seating. People often ask, she said, why the park isn’t open year-round. The reason is that many of the summer employees are students, plus closing for winter allows time for any construction, renovation, or repairs that might be needed, while the park is empty of crowds. The park is open select days from March through December, a company release states.
Wild Adventures encompasses some 170 acres and features over 50 species of animals, including zebras, lions, tigers, and giraffes. There are also more than 50 roller coaster and thrill rides and the 17-acres Splash Island Water Park with 15 attractions.
Wild Adventures began as a weekend horse farm and has evolved over the years. According to a company statement, “The park continues to grow and become the region’s premiere water and theme park.”