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Great America plans to expand water park
By Bob Susnjara | Daily Herald Staff

Six Flags Great America announces plans to add Riptide Bay at Hurricane Harbor and will include a new double-sided surf simulator.

 

Courtesy Six Flags Great America

Six Flags Great America announces plans to add Riptide Bay at Hurricane Harbor and will include a new double-sided surf simulator.

 

Courtesy Six Flags Great America

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Published: 9/2/2010 4:32 PM

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Six Flags Great America in Gurnee has announced it intends to expand its water park, nearly two months after it gave indications a new-generation roller coaster was in the works.

Plans call for Great America to increase the Hurricane Harbor water area by three acres for next year with a double-sided surf simulator, high-speed slides, luxury cabanas and other attractions. The addition would be called Riptide Bay at Hurricane Harbor.

Gurnee's community development director, David Ziegler, said any features eclipsing a 125-foot height limit for the property would require Great America to seek special permission from the advisory zoning board of appeals and the village board.

Jennifer Dugan-Savage, a Great America spokeswoman, said the heights of the new slides were not yet available.

At a Gurnee village board meeting in early July, village officials said Great America had dropped a petition that sought permission to build a 150-foot roller coaster near the park's main entrance. The coaster would have been a new-generation model from Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland.

Savage said Great America's roller-coaster idea was "very preliminary" but the park was contemplating the water park expansion the whole time.

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said while she was disappointed the roller coaster didn't materialize, she's pleased Great America plans to invest in the three-acre water park expansion.

"It (water park) brings in a lot of people," Kovarik said.

Under the proposal, the two-sided surf simulator would send out eight-foot waves with 24,000 gallons of water rushing per minute. It would mimic ocean waves and allow participants to build surfing skills.

In addition, there would be a Caribbean-style activity pool along with the luxury cabanas and new slides. Construction would begin in fall, with opening expected next spring.

Great America President Hank Salemi expressed his excitement in a statement issued Thursday. He said "no other theme park in the world" can match the thrills offered for one admission price at Great America.

"Since opening Hurricane Harbor in 2005, the water park has grown in popularity," Salemi said. "We felt the Riptide Bay expansion was the best way to kick off the 2011 season."

One of Hurricane Harbor's features is Skull Island, a 500,000-gallon wave pool.