Blue Mountain Ski Resort has applied for permits to begin construction of the first phase of a Carbon County-themed outdoor waterpark set to open in 2012.
The waterpark is part of a 10-year plan engineered by Barbara Green, one of the owners of Tuthill Corporation, the operator of Blue Mountain Ski Resort.
"Since I came here two years ago, my focus has been on summer activities," Green said. "We started with a successful mountain biking program this past summer and we are going to expand it this summer."
Until recently, Blue Mountain has been strictly a ski resort which meant its season ran from December to March. Visitors had been asking for Blue Mountain to offer a place to stay nearby.
"I had a hotel feasibility expert come in two years ago," Green explained. "The numbers just don't pan out because we did't have anything in the summertime."
The only exception was for the mountain biking program – when bikers were permitted to camp out during the summer season.
"My thrust has been to get activities here during the summer," she said. "An outdoor waterpark seems to make the most sense."
Blue Mountain is in the process of raising funds for the estimated $12 million first phase of the waterpark. This phase will occupy 18 acres of a 65-acre site. Green feels a staff of 500 will be required to handle the 5,000-guest capacity included in the first stage. When the park is completed, it will have a capacity of 10,000 visitors.
The waterpark will have a Lehigh Canal-themed lazy river, which will include an operating lock to raise tubes to an upper level; a Switchback-themed train; a coal mining-themed toddlers area; a Mollie Maguires-themed bar; and Victorian buildings.
The waterpark's wave pool will hug the edge of a 40-foot cliff with an overhanging deck and an infinity edge. Green envisions guests frolicking in waves of up to five feet as they peer over the spectacular view of the Aquashicola Valley.
The waterpark will have lagoons, squirt guns, a dump bucket and a family tube ride and a teen tube ride.
Green sees the waterpark as being an even bigger draw than the ski slope.
"About 85 percent of the population can come to a waterpark and have a good time," she noted. "Only 5 percent of the population will risk skiing."
Although there are a number of waterparks in the Poconos, several of the parks are indoor waterparks and are largely aimed as an activity for hotel guests.
"The indoor parks are there to put heads in beds," Green explained. She said that the Blue Mountain waterpark is designed as a day trip destination and expects to attract people from the local area.
She foresees once the waterpark is established, that plus the skiing will generate enough year-round demand for Blue Mountain to look into constructing time-share hotel rooms.
"Depending on how quickly we will get the permits, the water-park may be opened for 2011," Green noted, "but I doubt it."