AUSTELL — The expansion of Six Flags Over Georgia to include a new water park is expected to continue the park’s history as an economic engine for Cobb County.
About 100 people were at Six Flags Over Georgia on Monday afternoon for the Hurricane Harbor groundbreaking ceremony. The water park, which is the largest expansion in Six Flags Over Georgia’s history, is set to open Memorial Day weekend in 2014.
It will include an 800,000-gallon wave pool, two large slides and multiple amenities, including shaded cabanas, a new restaurant and changing facilities.
The new park will be in an expansion of Six Flags in Austell and in addition to White Water in Marietta. It will be located where the Southern Star Amphitheater now stands. The cost to enter Hurricane Harbor will be included in the seasonal pass or one-day ticket, which is $59.99.
“One of the main reasons we decided to build Hurricane Harbor is because of the success of White Water,” Park President Dale Kaetzel said. “And our guests told us that they wanted more water because of the popularity of White Water.”
The cost of the 38,000-square-foot expansion is not being released by park management, but officials have said it is being constructed by McMichael’s Construction of Covington and Aquatic Development Group Inc. of Cohoes, N.Y. The architect is Hill Roley Rossi and Associates LLC of Duluth.
Kaetzel did say opening Hurricane Harbor should not affect White Water.
“White Water is thriving, and because of the popularity of White Water, that really was a key point in investing in Hurricane Harbor,” he said. “We are going for a totally escapist relaxing day here at Six Flags Over Georgia and it’s a perfect complement to our world-class thrill rides.”
The water and theme parks had an economic impact of $175 million for its 2012 season, according to Cobb Travel and Tourism.
With the addition of Hurricane Harbor, that economic impact is expected to grow.
“We’re investing in outer markets … Birmingham, the Carolina’s, Chattanooga to bring folks into Cobb County to hopefully stay an extra night and fill up their tank with gas and to have a meal,” Kaetzel said. “That’s really what we hope to accomplish here, to lengthen the stay of those folks from outer markets.”
State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell), who was one of many who participated in the groundbreaking ceremony Monday afternoon, said this expansion is good news for Cobb and Georgia.
“I’m excited to see what will be the largest investment for Six Flags,” he said.
Wilkerson said that he and his family hold annual season passes to both parks. His children are 11 and 10 years old.
“The fact that (Six Flags Over Georgia is) making an investment shows there’s a profit here,” he said. “It does seem that as we redevelopment the south Cobb area, the old and new Cobb are coming together to kind of build the future.”
Hiring more employees during the park’s open season, which is every weekend in March, April and May and daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day, could also be a benefit of opening the new water park.
Six Flags Over Georgia employed 1,680 people last summer and 650 at White Water.
Others who participated in the groundbreaking ceremony were Cobb County Commissioners Lisa Cupid and Helen Goreham, Brooks Mathis, Vice President of Economic Development at Cobb Chamber of Commerce and executive director of Cobb EDGE; Cobb County Manager David Hankerson; South Cobb Redevelopment Authority Chair Ford Thigpen; Cobb County Office of Economic Development Director Michael Hughes; and Senior Vice President of Six Flags Park Operations for the East Coast John Odum.