Although a new water park in Warner Robins only recently started rising from the ground, its owner vows it will open this year.
Steve Rigby, who is building Rigby’s Water World behind his Rigby’s Entertainment Center on Ga. 96, said it may open in a month if he can get a week without rain. He said he is planning a big Halloween event at the park, and it will at least be open by then.
“I guarantee you we will be open this year,” he said during a tour of the park.
In addition to the water park, at the same site he is building two hotels, a 1,250-person convention center, a 250-seat restaurant and an 6,000-person amphitheater. All of that is expected to open in about a year.
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Construction on the park began in November, but the first few months mostly involved installing the underground system of pipes that will deliver the water, Rigby said. He had originally hoped to be open by Mother’s Day, but he said persistent rain has slowed progress.
Only a few weeks ago did passersby begin to see the structure of the park going up, and that sparked a lot of interest.
“When we started putting up our first slide, the internet blew up, our phones started blowing up,” he said. “People call Rigby’s every day, all day long wanting to know when we are going to open, how much it’s going to be.”
He hasn’t settled on a ticket price yet, although he previously has said it would be in the range of $25.
Its centerpiece — a colorful maze of 16 water slides, walkways and more than 40 water-play implements — will be the largest water park structure in the world, Rigby said. It includes an adult pool with a waterfall and three children pools. The adult pool will have a three-tier waterfall and a palm tree in the center.
The park will open with 23 acres, but he has 90 acres in all and plans to expand it each year. As soon as it closes after Halloween, he will start work on a lazy river to open next year.
“There will be a lot more to come,” he said.
The current cost of the water park is at $12 million, and he expects that to double or triple as more features are added. The centerpiece structure alone cost $3 million, and that doesn’t include the cost of the piping and filtering system.
The park is at the corner of Ga. 96 and Lake Joy Road, just east of Interstate 75. Rigby said he plans to put several billboards on the interstate to draw in travelers.
April Bragg, president of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce and a Dublin native, expects the park will draw people from a wide area.
“There is already a buzz,” she said. “When I travel to Dublin to visit family, I’m always questioned about when it will be open.”
She added, “I have two kids who ask me almost daily when is it going to open, so I’m very much looking forward to it.”
She thinks it’s possible that even people who live closer to White Water in Atlanta will choose to come to the Warner Robins park to avoid the Atlanta traffic.
Rigby said his park will eventually be as big or bigger than White Water.
“It’s going to bring in hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.
He said he has had five feasibility studies done, and all of them estimated that people would drive up to two hours to come to the park.
Although attendance at Sandy Beach Water Park in Macon that opened in 2015 did not meet expectations, Rigby said that doesn’t make him nervous about his investment. He said his park is much bigger and his confidence is “100 percent” that it will be a success.
“When you build the largest of anything in the world, that’s a statement.”
He said the park will employ 80 to 90 people this year, and they have already been hired.