Wild Adventures | A Furry, Family Friendly Theme Park
In Valdosta, Georgia near the Florida-Georgia border, you’ll find Wild Adventures. It’s a theme park that combines a traditional amusement park, with animal interactions and a water park to create a family friendly summer destination. I spoke with the park’s Public Relations Coordinator, Micha Hogan about what makes Wild Adventures different.
We’re a really family friendly theme park. And that’s somewhat different from other parks in the state and region. We focus on the families and try to make it an enjoyable environment for them.
Wild Adventures’ History: From Petting Zoo to Theme Park
Wild Adventures got its start as a horse farm in the early 1990’s and later evolved into a petting zoo. The family that owned the farm expanded the collection of animals and added a playground. Then, in 1996 the full-fledged amusement park opened. In 2002, the park added Splash Island Water Park and in 2007 the park was sold to Herschend Family Entertainment. Herschend is the same company that operates Dollywood in Tennessee and Silver Dollar City in Missouri.
Everything from Lorikeets to Llamas
Wild Adventures merges a traditional theme park with a zoo like Like SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa. Now that I have a toddler, I have a new found respect for animals and their popularity with kids. Like most kids, my daughter loves animals and I can see how having them can help make a park a family destination. If you’ve ever been a little girl or know any, then you can imagine how popular the park’s Saddle Up Pony Rides must be. The Furry Friends Petting Zoo allows guests to get up close to baby rabbits, chicks, goats and more.
New for this year, is Lorikeet Landing which boasts a number of colorful lorikeets, parakeets, tortoises, and koi fish. Lorikeets are a type of parrot. Carrie the Cockatoo even tweets in the technological sense. Check out her Twitter page.With more than 50 species the park also has larger mammals from the man-eating type like lions, tigers, & bears (sorry I had to), to the cuddly and cute type like wallabies and monkeys. Also, they have other standards like giraffes, zebras, and elephants. I would mention the reptiles, but I’m too scared to look at their list, because it likely includes snakes. I’m not a fan of snakes.
Wild Adventures’ Roller Coasters & Thrill Rides Of course I had to sample Wild Adventures’ roller coasters during my visit last May. The park offers eight roller coasters and over 30 rides in all. Boomerang is, you guessed it, a Vekoma boomerang shuttle coaster. It was a bit on the smooth side, but basically your standard boomerang. Swamp Thing should be up for an award for one of the coolest names for a coaster. It’s a Vekoma Family Inverted coaster. It’s similar to Rugrats Runaway Reptar that’s found at some Cedar Fair parks and is a smaller, much gentler version of the maker’s full-sized inverted coasters. Speaking of those Hangman is just that. It has some cool inversions, but it’s a little too rough with your head bouncing off of those restraints. Read my review here.
Cheetah, a Custom Coasters International woodie, was the coaster I was most looking forwad to as it had a layout I’d never experienced. It was down earlier in my trip, but was up and running just as I was getting ready to leave. Luckily, I dragged my feet leaving the park, as I saw an occupied train cresting the ride’s hill from the parking lot. The park’s longest ride didn’t disappoint. The out and back layout with a figure eight finale was pretty cool, but also bumpy at times. If it was a bit smoother, the ride would be a really gem. Today, ScreamScape posted a rumor about the park doing some renovations to Cheetah.
UPDATE – I’m glad to hear that this is more than a rumor. I’ve confirmed with the park that starting in November Cheetah will recieve renovations to sections of the track to make it smoother. Here are some pictures of Cheetah.
Wild Adventure’s collection is rounded out by a few other smaller coasters, Ant Farm Express, Gold Rush, and Fiesta Express along with Bug Out a wild mouse that wasn’t operating on the weekday I was at the park. The park also has a number of thrill rides. As usual, I stuck strictly to the roller coasters, but you can see some of the flat rides and other attractions here.
New for 2009 at Wild Adventures – The Wahee Cyclone & Concerts For 2009, the Splash Island Water Park received a complete makeover. Guests can cool off in a Polynesian-themed water paradise now featuring the Wahee Cyclone. Four riders in a cloverleaf-like tube are propelled through an enclosed tube before plummeting into a giant funnel where they rock back and forth before dropping into a pool of water. If that description wasn’t good enough, here’s a video. Aside from the animals and the wet and dry attractions, Wild Adventures also serves as a major entertainment venue for the region. Guests can see acts like Foreigner and Bret Michaels from Poison in the coming weeks.
With a full-featured, revamped water park, animal interactions, concerts, and amusement rides and roller coasters Wild Adventures is a solid family destination for Southeasterners.