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Pandemic doesn't faze Lost Island Theme Park plans

Pandemic doesn't faze Lost Island Theme Park plans

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Excavation and grading are underway for a planned $100 million, 90-acre theme park across Shaulis Road from Lost Island Waterpark. 

WATERLOO — Plans for the Lost Island Theme Park are moving forward even as the coronavirus pandemic threatens the opening of a related Waterloo water park.

“When something like this happens it gives you pause,” said Gary Bertch. “But we’re in so deep, we’ve already committed so much already.”

Bertch and his family operate the Lost Island Waterpark, which is waiting to see if and when it will be able to open for the summer season given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Bertches are still moving forward with grading and construction of a planned $100 million, 90-acre theme park across Shaulis Road from the water park, expected to open in 2022 with thrill rides and other family entertainment offerings.

The pandemic’s social distancing requirements have caused other theme parks to close temporarily, including Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and pushed back the opening of Adventureland in Altoona.

But Bertch said the situation so far hasn’t had a negative impact on the Lost Island construction process or contracts for planned rides.

In fact, a new video report produced by Chicago-based YouTube channel Park Pros may help build more excitement for the theme park. That video contains some educated guesses, based off of the drawings and site plans released to date, on what kind of rides Lost Island will feature.

“It’s all speculation on that guy’s part and we’re not going to confirm any of it,” Bertch said of the video. “But some of them are pretty obvious. We weren’t trying to hide that.”

One exception is a roller coaster Lost Island confirmed it purchased from the Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden. Coaster enthusiasts on internet forums have already been discussing the steel Intamin Launch Coaster formerly known as Kanonen that opened in 2005.

“There’s quite a following for that particular ride,” Bertch said. “It was one of the first launch coasters to open.”

Park Pros also speculated that Lost Island bought a second roller coaster from Ratanga Junction in Cape Town, South Africa. Bertch declined to confirm whether Lost Island bought Cobra, a steel inverted roller coaster with five inversions.

Lost Island plans to release more detailed information over time about rides and park features as the opening approaches. But Bertch was pleased with the excitement the Park Pros video could build.

“Based on the concept art alone the theming looks phenomenal,” the narrator of the Park Pros video said. “If they do wind up following through with the theming and story-telling, this park could really be something special.

“While this park isn’t opening with the craziest roller coasters or rides, I’m genuinely impressed with how many rides they seem to be opening with; and not only that, but how well-rounded their collection will for a brand new park,” he continued. “They seem to have the perfect balance of thrill, family and kids rides, and their placement of everything looks really well thought-out.”

But for now, the Bertches are watching the coronavirus news closely and trying to determine whether the water park and adjacent Bamboo Ridge Campgrounds can open.

“We need to be making a decision on that,” Bertch said. “We’re still hoping the campgrounds and the water park are going to be allowed to open.”

Lost Island’s go-carts and miniature golf course, originally slated to open this weekend, are likely closed through the middle of May. The water park still anticipates a June 5 opening.

Bertch said Lost Island has been discussing ways to open the park with social distancing in place and has been talking with similar facilities around the country about the situation.

“Our other issue is staff,” Bertch said. “We have 80 lifeguards that have to be trained before we can open.”

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