Wild Adventures unveils water park expansion

VALDOSTA -- Southern Rock superstars The Charlie Daniels Band and .38 Special helped Wild Adventures Theme Park unveil the $4 million expansion of its Splash Island Water Park for season pass holders here April 2.

Performances by the popular rockers capped a day in which Wild Adventures regulars experienced the opening of the 55,000 gallons of fun that are Hakini Rapids and Kona Cliffs, giant water slides that will no doubt help the park maintain its reputation as the coolest place to be during the sweltering South Georgia summer.

"Splash Island is a popular place to be, especially during the the hot summer months, and increasing the size of the water park by approximately 6 acres was a big focus for us this season," Wild Adventures Vice President and General Manager Bob Montgomery said. "Hakini Rapids and Kona Cliffs are giant slides that add more to the family element that guests expect when they visit Wild Adventures."

Montgomery's words proved prophetic as thousands upon thousands of season pass holders filed into the park at 3766 Old Clyattville Road for the Saturday unveiling. After the sun slowly warmed away the early-morning chill, Hakini Rapids and Kona Cliffs rapidly became the stars of the day.

"This is unbelievable!" 11-year-old Cody Ryan, a Floridian visiting his grandparents in Valdosta for the weekend, said. "You go so fast! I can't wait to go again!"

The water slides are only part of the Wild Adventures expansion. Cabana Village, which offers rental of nine secluded cabanas for families seeking the ultimate water park experience, also opened on the Second. Each cabana provides room for up to eight guests, and amenities in each include flat-screen TV, table and chairs, a mini-refrigerator, ceiling fans, lounge chairs, secured storage and access to restrooms.

Reservations for the cabanas must be made online prior to a park visit.

In addition to the new attractions, the crowd at Wild Adventures enjoyed their familiar and favorite rides, more than 500 wild animals, the 17 total acres of Splash Island and, of course, the music of Charlie Daniels and .38 Special.

"I love coming here," Daniels said from the stage during his performance. "Every year when I get a copy of our tour schedule and I see we're playing at Wild Adventures, I get excited. This is one of my favorite places to play. Not many people know it, but I used to live in Valdosta."

Daniels' 2011 tour marks his 53rd year in the music business, and he showed no sign of slowing down at Wild Adventures. Highlights of his performance included "The Legend of Wooley Swamp," "Long-Haired Country Boy," "In America" and -- of course -- "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

Openers .38 Special were called back for three encores in a set that included "Heart Needs a Second Chance," "Wild-Eyed Southern Boy," "Hold on Loosely" and "Caught Up in You."

Wild Adventures, owned and operated by Herschend Family Entertainment, is a 170-acre theme park that specializes in family entertainment. Season passes (available at www.WildAdventures.com) start at $69.99. For an additional $20, a gold season pass includes free parking (a $10 value each visit), free miniature golf and go-carts, as well as discounts on food and merchandise.

General park admission, which includes a second day free, are $45.99 for adults and $40.99 for children ages 3-9 and seniors 55 and over.