Alabama’s biggest water park, and former amusement park, has had a very troubled past. The park started as Visionland back in 1998. It was the brainchild of mayor Larry Langford, who now sits in a Federal prison. Eleven cities came together to form the West Jefferson Amusement and Public Park Authority and with help from the Alabama Legislature, the group borrowed $65 million to build the park. The park opened in 1998 and expanded, but soon, it went bankrupt. The park filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2002, and it was purchased by Southland Entertainment Group for $6 million, a loss of $59 million in public funds.
In 2006, Visionland was renamed as Alabama Adventure, but soon the amusement park portion of the park closed down in 2012, after the park was purchased by Adrenaline Family Entertainment, then General Attractions LLC. Today, parts of the amusement park, including the classic Rampage wooden roller coaster, one of the top wooden coasters in the world, is still at the park, just sitting there. Here’s video of the ride on Rampage.
The park was renamed as Splash Adventure, and only the water attractions were operating. And things have struggled for the park, for example, in June 2011, there was a fight that broke out between several youths and it spread throughout the park. One guest described it as a borderline riot. The Bessemer Police were called to the park and no more guests were allowed into the park. The problem for Splash Adventure, is the park’s location, which is in a bad area of Jefferson County. With crime problems in cities like in Bessemer and Fairfield, people do not feel safe coming out. Last week, the park was sold to new owners, and these owners run a very popular amusement park called Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana!
Splash Adventure, which includes the amusement park, the water park, and 89 surrounding acres, was purchased by Koch Parks Inc. Koch Parks is run by Dan Koch, and don’t worry, Koch Parks has no relations with the political group the Koch Brothers. Dan Koch is excited to open and run Splash Adventure for the 2014 season, which is quickly approaching! The family wants Alabama’s Splash Adventure Waterpark to be the number one choice for family fun and family memories for generations to come. And I hope the new owners will turn around this struggling park to become one of the top attractions in the state of Alabama!
In my opinion, there are three things Koch Parks needs to do to turn around Splash Adventure to make it a park destination for anyone across the country, just like how Holiday World is a top-notch destination in Indiana. Here are three things Splash Adventure needs to do to make the park better.
1. Advertise That The Park Is Safe
Jefferson County has had a ton of bad news. It was the largest municipality to declare bankruptcy until Detroit went bankrupt. Many political leaders in the county have been convicted of crimes and are in prison. Birmingham has one of the highest crime rates in America. And cities surrounding Birmingham have problems with crime as well. The park has had trouble with a riot and things being stolen from people like phones. So if Splash Adventure wants to make a big comeback, it must show that the park is safe!
I don’t mean turn the park into a security mecca where everyone is presumed guilty until proven innocent. The park needs to have a security presence that people can see, this will ensure that people feel safe at the park. The park also needs to have working rides, friendly employees, and a clean presence. Knowing how Dan Koch runs Holiday World and how it has a clean atmosphere and friendly employees. Splash Adventure is in for a big turnaround this season, and it begins with the job fair it is holding this weekend. Employees must be friendly, and caring for Splash Adventure, or they will not be hired.
2. Increase The Park’s Social Media Presence
Holiday World in Indiana has a great social media and online presence. It’s Facebook page has close to 300,000 likes. It’s Twitter page has close to 20,000 followers. It’s Instagram page has around 3,400 followers. And yes, the park has a Pinterest page with around 3,500 followers. The park also has a active YouTube page that has videos of its rides, events, behind the scenes stuff, and a video about the jobs available for the 2014 season, and it’s almost 30 minutes long!
Splash Adventure has struggled with its online and social media presence. It’s Facebook page only has around 35,000 likes. And it’s Twitter page is barely followed. I bet those numbers will be going up over the course of the year. Because the new owners knows one thing, to promote the park, you must increase your social media and online presence. I bet you will see more updates, pictures, and videos coming from the park this season, then in any of the past seasons since the park first opened.
3. Invest In More Rides
Splash Adventure only has eight water attractions, only 8! With so few attractions available, you are going to struggle with bringing people to the park. The new owners are bringing in a few new attractions for the 2014 season, including the Wacky Worm Coaster, Rio Grande Train, Junior Bumper Boats, Mini Helicopters and a new Laser Maze Challenge. The park will also offer free sunscreen, free parking, free Wi-Fi, and other amenities. Yes, that might mean the ticket prices might go slightly up. But if these changes means a fresh start for Alabama Adventure, people will pay the higher ticket prices.
Another thing is Splash Adventure needs to reopen some of the rides that are closed down, including the classic Rampage wooden roller coaster, that I loved riding before it was closed down. I don’t know if Rampage will reopen this year, but the wooden roller coaster will reopen, according to the new owners. A lot of people comment online saying Splash Adventure does not have the big rides like Six Flags Over Georgia has, and it’s a short three-hour drive on Interstate 20 from the Birmingham Metro. For Splash Adventure to succeed, it must bring in new rides that people are going to talk about, like the great rides Holiday World has.
Good luck to Koch Parks and Dan Koch and welcome to Alabama! I hope you can turn around Splash Adventure and make the park a world-class destination! And if you go to Splash Adventure this year, you will see this!
Learn more about Splash Adventure at: http://www.splashadventurewaterpark.com/