Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park near Chattanooga broke ground this week on SoakYa, a five-acre water park which marks the first major expansion of the attraction's footprint since the 1960s.
"Lake Winnepesaukah has a hard to say and even harder to spell name," said Talley Green, the park's public relations director, "but through the years that name has become synonymous with family fun in our region. That's why we chose SoakYa, a spirited play on our name, for the waterpark that is a perfect complement to our amusement complex."
Because of its long name, the park often goes by the nickname "Lake Winnie," even in its own promotional listerature and web site domain name.
The multi-million dollar waterpark, scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, will feature a lazy river and wave lagoon, flume body slides and enclosed tubes -- some for single riders, some for multiple riders. A multi-lane racer slide will send dueling riders on a plunge into a pool while toddlers will be able to enjoy a shallow splash park with pint-sized slides and water play equipment. Covered and uncovered lounge seating, retail shops, concessions and a changing facility with lockers will allow families to enjoy a day-long stay at the park.
The first phase of the multi-million dollar SoakYa waterpark will be developed on the west side of the amusement park between the Cannonball roller coaster and the lake. The 5-acre vacant tract of land has recently served as overflow parking for concerts and other major events. Subsequent waterpark expansions could triple the water entertainment complex's size in years to come, according to officials.
The amusement park will open for the season on April 13, a month and a half before the water park, with a general admission price of $26 for adults, $10 for children two and under, $10 for senior citizens. Park officials say that's consistent with 2012 pricing.
During the months the water park is open -- Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend -- Lake Winnie's admission price will be $31.95 for adults, $15.95 for toddlers and senior citizens and will include access to both attractions -- the amusement park and the water park -- with one ticket. During that summer season, individual ride tickets will not be sold for the amusement park rides; the all-inclusive ticket will be the only option.
After Labor Day, the prices will revert to $26 and $10 for the amusement park alone.
The new water park was designed by architect Christopher M. Jones of North Palm Beach, Florida and Aquatic Development Group of Cahoes, N.Y., both of which have extensive waterpark development experience. The park will feature "Made in the USA" slides and other water play equipment designed, engineered and manufactured by North Carolina-based AquaBlue International. Chattanooga-based CapitalMark Bank & Trust will finance the expansion.
Lake Winnepesaukah was started by Carl and Minette Dixon in 1925 and has since transformed from the original swimming, boating and picnicking destination to a family amusement park. The park is owned and operated by the third and fourth generations of the founding family, making it the third-longest continuously family-owned amusement park in the U.S. Through the years the family has continually added new features to the 100-acre amusement park, including over 40 rides and attractions. The waterpark is the first major expansion since the park doubled the number of rides and added an antique carousel and the wooden Cannonball roller coaster in the 1960s.
The park's web site is www.lakewinnie.com.