Zoombezi Bay

Last updated
Zoombezi Bay
Previously known as Wyandot Lake (1984–2006)
Gooding Zoo Park (1946–1984)
Zoombezi Bay Logo.png
Location Powell, Ohio, United States
Coordinates 40°09′18″N83°07′12″W / 40.154896°N 83.119866°W / 40.154896; -83.119866 Coordinates: 40°09′18″N83°07′12″W / 40.154896°N 83.119866°W / 40.154896; -83.119866
Opened1946 (1946) (as zoo park)
May 26, 2008;14 years ago (2008-05-26) (as water park)
Owner Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Operating seasonMay to September
Area22.7 acres (92,000 m2)
Water rides17
Website www.zoombezibay.com

Zoombezi Bay is a 22.7-acre (9.2 ha) water park owned by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium near Powell, Ohio just north of Columbus. The park sits on the site of the former Wyandot Lake Adventure Park, which was purchased by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2006. Zoombezi Bay opened to the public on May 26, 2008, and currently ranks as one of the Midwest's most popular water parks, attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually.



Wyandot Lake

Wyandot Lake's Logo 1990s-2006 Wyandot Lake Logo.jpg
Wyandot Lake's Logo 1990s-2006

Wyandot Lake originally began as a picnic and recreational park in 1896. In the 1940s, the area was purchased by a carnival operator to be used as winter storage for the carnival's rides. The area soon developed into an amusement park. In 1956, the Jet Flyer was added as the park's first roller coaster; (later known as the Sea Dragon). Following the park owner's death in the 1970s, ownership was transferred to the City of Columbus, which leased the property to Ohio-based Funtime, Inc. in 1983. [1] Construction soon began on Wyandot Lake Adventure Park, which officially opened on May 24, 1984. [2] Funtime Inc. was then acquired by Premier Parks in 1995. [3] Premier Parks, originally an Oklahoma-based real estate company named TierCo, ventured into the entertainment industry when it purchased the Frontier City theme park in 1983. It later acquired Six Flags in 1999, and changed its name to Six Flags Inc. [4] [5]

Under new ownership, the amusement park continued to operate under the name Wyandot Lake. However, by 2003, Six Flags began experiencing financial difficulties, and began the process to sell multiple properties. In June 2006, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced that it had entered an agreement with Six Flags to purchase Wyandot Lake for $2 million, which would be finalized later in the year. [6] Six Flags – struggling with annual losses since 1999 – was eager to negotiate with the nearby zoo amid city plans to realign Powell Road, which would cut through a portion of Wyandot Lake. [1] [7] Shortly thereafter, the Zoo announced plans to invest nearly $45 million to substantially re-develop the former Wyandot Lake property. Officials projected that by expanding Wyandot Lake and operating it in tandem with the zoo, both facilities would become substantially more attractive, with the potential to produce more than $1.3 million in annual profit. [8]

Wyandot Lake included both a dry amusement park area, as well as a full waterpark. Among the highlights of the amusement park was the Mangels-Illions Grand Carousel. The carousel was one of only a few manufactured by the William F. Mangels Company with wooden horses carved by M.C. Illions and Sons. In 1999, the carousel was removed from Wyandot Lake and underwent a one million dollar restoration before being moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. [9]

Original Wyandot Lake Wave Pool Original Wyandot Lake Wave Pool.png
Original Wyandot Lake Wave Pool

Wyandot Lake's Wild Tides Wave Pool had a maximum depth of 9 feet. [10]

Substantial portions of the former amusement park were incorporated into the Zoo, becoming Jungle Jack's Landing, Animal Encounters Village, and Colo's Cove Picnic Grove areas. An expanded parking lot and new entry plaza were also constructed, and a 22.7-acre (9.2 ha) parcel on the corner of Powell Road and Riverside Drive was set aside for a new water park.


Construction of Zoombezi Bay in 2007 Zoombezi Bay Construction 2007.jpg
Construction of Zoombezi Bay in 2007

In October 2006, work began to remove the former picnic area and clear trees and other out-dated rides. Many older attractions and equipment were auctioned off. Wyandot Lake's popular "Jet Stream" and "Zuma Falls" water slides were purchased for $500 by The Beach Water Park, located in Mason, Ohio. Construction continued through the summer of 2007, with nearly all of the park's 22.7 acres (9.2 ha) undergoing a complete transformation. $20 million was invested to construct three new water slide complexes, along with a new 554,500 gallon wave pool and a 1,500 feet (460 m), 1.5 million gallon "Action River".[ citation needed ]

During the summer of 2007, an online contest was held to name the new water park. More than 3,000 people voted, and the name Zoombezi Bay was selected from a list that also included Kisawa Waves, Katoomba Lagoon, Kahuna Island, and Tahiti Waves.[ citation needed ]

By the time the park re-opened as Zoombezi Bay on May 26, 2008, only two attractions from the former Wyandot Lake remained within the water park. Christopher's Island was refurbished and renamed Barracuda Bay (2008-2013), while Canoochee Creek was renamed Croctail Creek and now serves as the park's adults-only lazy river. The park's former classic Sea Dragon roller coaster still stands along the park's perimeter, now serving as the signature attraction of the zoo's Rides At Adventure Cove area. Other former Wyandot Lake buildings can still be seen standing around the park's perimeter, but are now separated from the water park by fences and landscaping.

Growth and Expansion

On December 5, 2010, during the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's annual Jack Hanna's Into the Wildlights holiday television special, Columbus Zoo Executive Director Dale Schmidt announced Zoombezi Bay's first major expansion, which included the addition of two new water slides from manufacturer WhiteWater West. Python Plunge would be WhiteWater's first 45 feet (14 m) tall Master Blaster Express uphill water coaster, while Big Boa Falls represented WhiteWater's first Boomerango Express half-pipe tube slide. Both attractions opened to the public on May 21, 2011.[ citation needed ]

For the 2014 season, Zoombezi Bay announced that it would be retiring an attraction that represented childhood memories for many Central Ohioans. After 17 years of entertaining guests, Barracuda Bay (formerly Christopher's Island) was demolished to make room for an all-new, highly themed AquaPlay RainFortress from WhiteWater West. The new children's area, named Baboon Lagoon after the 16 lifelike baboons that can be seen climbing atop the structure, features nine new children's water slides, 90+ interactive water play features, heated water, and a giant orange octopus whose tentacles reach nearly 40 feet (12 m) in the air, dumping a giant 1,000 gallon bucket over the structure every 10 minutes. The new addition represented a $4.5 million investment for the property, making it one of the largest in the park's history. Baboon Lagoon opened to the public on May 17, 2014, and would go on to win an award for Best New Product in Themed Exhibit Design from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

The highest attendance number that Zoombezi Bay ever achieved was in 2016 with 426,376 guests. The busiest month in Zoombezi Bay's history was also in 2016 – when the waterpark welcomed 161,534 visitors in the month of June. [11]

For the 2016 season, Zoombezi bay transformed its former Tahitian Twister slide (which opened with the park in 2008) to a new slide, now known as the Soundsurfer, "King of the beats." This new attraction features colorful LED lights, and also plays music that guests choose at the top of the tower before getting on the slide. The slide also went through a re-paint, and the slides new colors are orange and white, instead of the former colors, blue and black. These new features make this slide the first of its kind in America.[ citation needed ]


Current Attractions

NameDescriptionHeight RequirementManufacturerOperatedNotes
Wild Tides Wave Pool532,000 gallon wave pool with a maximum depth of six feet. Waves can reach up to four feet high.Children 36" and smaller must wear a PFD unless accompanied within arms reach of a parent. Aquatic Development Group 2008–present
Roaring Rapids570,000 gallons of water for 1,500 feet (460 m) at 32 inches deep and an average of 17 feet (5.2 m) wide.Children 36" and smaller must wear a PFD unless accompanied within arms reach of a parent. Aquatic Development Group 2008–present
Baboon LagoonCustom-themed AquaPlay RainFortress™, featuring 9 water slides, 90 interactive elements, heated pools, and a 1,000 gallon tipping bucket. Winner of 2014 IAAPA Best New Product in Themed Exhibit Design.Slides: 36" or 42" depending on slide WhiteWater West 2014–presentReplaces Barracuda Bay (1997-2013).
Tiny Tides4,000-square-foot (370 m2) shallow water (0" to 22" max depth) playground for smaller children. Located near Baboon Lagoon.Under 36"2008–presentFormerly known as Katoomba Lagoon (2008-2013).
Slippery SealsThree unique body "speed slides". Part of the "Sea Splash" Complex.48" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Sea SnakesOne- or two-person raft slides starting from a 51-foot (16 m) tower with the premier attraction being a bowl shaped slide section where the rider slides around the side of the bowl in a circular motion. Part of the "Sea Splash" Complex.48" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Sea TubesOne or two person serpentine raft slides from 51 feet (16 m). Part of the "Sea Splash" Complex.48" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
CycloneTwo- to four-person enclosed slide featuring a steep drop into a giant funnel.48"-700 lb (320 kg)combined ProSlide Technology 2008–present
SoundsurferFive-person partially enclosed raft slide with colorful lights and music48" or 42" and accompanied by an adult, 800 lb (360 kg)combined ProSlide Technology 2016–presentFirst ever (outdoor) slide of its kind in the United States. (Was originally the Tahitian Twister from 2008-2015)
Dolphin DashSix lane mat racer slide.42" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Big Boa FallsTwo person reverse freefall raft slide featuring a 30 feet (9.1 m) half-pipe adjacent to Python Plunge.48" WhiteWater West 2011–presentFirst Boomerango Express in the United States and one of only six Boomerango tube slides in the country.
Python PlungeTwo person uphill water coaster adjacent to Big Boa Falls.48" WhiteWater West 2011–presentFirst Master Blaster Express in the United States.
Croctail IslandSecluded, adults-only sun deck and bar. Surrounded by Croctail Creek.Age: 21+ only1984–2019
Sandbar at Croctail CreekAdults-only area with sun deck, lounge space, and daiquiri bar, with swim-up access.Age: 21+ onlyAquatic Development Group2020–presentReplaced Croctail Island for the 2020 season.
Croctail CreekAdults-only lazy river that surrounds a man-made island with wooden sun deck. A defining feature is the tunnel below the neighboring Sea Dragon wooden roller coaster. Croctail Creek received a full refurbishment for the 2020 season, with the entrance being relocated, and a new lounge pool and swim-up bar being added.Age: 21+ only1984–presentFormerly known as Canoochee Creek (1984-2006). Croctail Creek is the only attraction that allows patrons to consume alcohol while in the water. Fully refurbished for the 2020 season.
Sand Piper Splash2 body slides that terminate in either a 4 foot or 6 foot drop. Part of the "Otter Banks" Complex48"2018–present
Sea ChallengeWibit water obstacle course. Part of the "Otter Banks" Complex44"2018–present
Sand Dollar ShoresZero depth entry pool with basketball areaChildren 42" and smaller must wear a PFD unless accompanied within arms reach of a parent.2018–present

Former Wyandot Lake Attractions

A 2001 picture showing the original carousel and the Sea Dragon, which was then called the Jet Flyer. Old Wyandot Lake.jpg
A 2001 picture showing the original carousel and the Sea Dragon, which was then called the Jet Flyer.
Starfish Ferris wheel A 16-seat Eli Bridge chain driven "Aristocrat" Ferris wheel.unknown-2006
Christopher's IslandWater TreehouseA three section water treehouse. Pirate themed.1997–2013Renamed Barracuda Bay in 2008; removed after the 2013 season to make way for the all new Baboon Lagoon in 2014.
Hum-DinghiesAllan Herschell "Wet Boat"Old kiddie boat ride with real water and boats with bells attached.unknown-2004Part of "Kiddie Land". Replaced with Kiddie Stage and Seating.
Dune BuggiesHampton "Combo"Circular Hampton car ride with two sets of motorcycles. Red, yellow, and blue spinning canopy.unknown-2006Part of "Kiddie Land".
Sand DollarMiniature Ferris wheel Miniature Eli Bridge chain-driven Ferris wheel.unknown-1997Part of "Kiddie Land". Almost always broken down. Never Replaced.
Cod CarsAllan Herschell "Midge-O-Racer"A car ride where riders would go in a circle, but be able to change the position (radius) of their path by turning the steering wheel.unknown-1999Part of "Kiddie Land". Replaced by "Guppies".
GuppiesEyerly "Bulgy the Whale"A small circular fish ride where colorful fish would go up-and down (similar to the motion of a Merry-Go-Round).unknown-2006Part of "Kiddie Land". Replaced the old circular car ride.
Tottering TurtlesChambers "Kid Turtle"A circular ride with a hill in one point. Almost like a roller coaster, but very small and electric powered throughout the ride (no chained hill).2000–2006Part of "Kiddie Land". Replaced the space-ship ride.
SeahorsesAllan Herschell "Rodeo"This ride was similar to a little carousel (no music) and was actually horse-themed, not seahorse-themedunknown-2006Part of "Kiddie Land". Possibly made by the same manufacturer as the old circular car ride.
Dune CyclesHampton "Dune Cycles"A Hampton motorcycle ride with hills throughout. Spinning red and white canopy.unknown-2006Part of "Kiddie Land".
(?)Flying ShipsFour (or two?) metal spaceships hanging from an overhead canopy.unknown-1999Part of "Kiddie Land".
Jet FighterAllan Herschell "Skyfighter"A spinning ride where all the ships rose to 6 ft (1.8 m) in the air and came down all at once.unknown-1999Part of "Kiddie Land". Replaced with "Flying Elephants".
Flying ElephantsSartori "Elephant Ride"A spinning ride where all the elephants rose to 6 ft (1.8 m) in the air and came down all at once.2000–2006Part of "Kiddie Land". Replaced "Jet Fighter". Similar to the current elephant ride in Rides At Adventure Cove, but not the same.
Monsoon King Amusements "Frolic"Circular ride with carts seating two people (facing each other) that could be manually spun by a wheel in the center of the car. Painted Blue with white and yellow fluorescent bulbs at top.unknown-2006
Black Squid Eyerly "Spider" This ride had six arms, with two cars attached at the end of each arm. The cars spun independently and each car had to be loaded separately by an employee. Had yellow and green fluorescent bulbs along with yellow incandescent bulbs under the downward-curving arms.unknown-2006Not operating often, as it was subject to frequent breakdowns and long wait times (because of loading).
Neptune's RevengeEli Bridge "Scrambler"This ride had three arms with three cars on each prong that spun as the ride goes around. Was painted white with a future-theme.unknown-presentMoved to Rides At Adventure Cove, renamed "Dust Devil" and painted brown.
Barracuda (Original)Eyerly "Rock-O-Plane"Ferris wheel with completely free spinning cages. Painted Blue.unknown-1999Replaced in 2000 with the Tilt-A-Whirl from Geauga Lake, but kept the same name and sign that the Rock-O-Plane used.
Barracuda (Replacement) Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl This ride had seven free spinning cars that moved with unpredictable motion around a circular track. Had red, white, and blue theme.2000–presentMoved to Jungle Jack's Landing, renamed "Whirligigs" and painted in a pond theme. It has since been removed and sold to Funtimes Fun Park, near Alliance, Ohio. [12]
Sea Dragon Figure-Eight Junior Coaster This ride was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and has been in operation ever since.1956–presentOriginally named "Jet Flyer". While now part of Rides At Adventure Cove, the coaster has remained in the same location. It also kept the same name and sign (on the station), but received a fresh coat of white paint.
Grand Carousel (original) Carousel This Mangels-Illions Carousel had 52 Horses, 2 Chariots, and a Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ.1914–1999Beautifully and completely restored. Now sits at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Grand Carousel (replacement) Carousel Typical amusement park carousel. Had white and blue incandescent bulbs. No band organ, but played music from CD.2000–presentKept name and old signage of "Grand Carousel".
Wild Tides Wave PoolWave PoolLarge wave poolunknown-2006New wave pool in Zoombezi Bay kept name, but is actually a completely new and different wave pool.
Buccaneer BayKiddie play areaThis was a small kiddie play poolunknown-1997This pool became home to the exit of "Shark Attack" when the bigger "Christopher's Island" was built in 1997. ("Christopher's Island" is now called "Barracuda Bay" and is part of Zoombezi Bay.)
Frog PoolKiddie Play AreaSmall circular pool with small slide where toddlers would slide through a frogs mouth. Featured red mushroom water feature.unknown-2006
Canoochee CreekLazy RiverThis lazy river had features such as a leaky tunnel, air bubbles, steam (coming from the scenery), a bar along the way called "Croctail Island", and a "mill".unknown-presentStill used today as "Crocktail Creek" in Zoombezi Bay. It is for Adults only and still has Croctail Island. Also toned down, for a "lazier" effect. Some of the scenery was burned down in a fire, but replaced soon after.
Bait-n-Bump/Havoc Harbor (original)Duce Bumper Cars These bumper cars were the classic style, one/two rider type. Had an island-themed backdrop with a concrete center island.unknown-2001The cars were destroyed in a fire, and replaced with gentler cars under the same name. Originally named "Bait-n-Bump", name changed to "Havoc Harbor" around 1994.
Havoc Harbor (replacement) Bumper Cars These bumper cars were the one-rider, tank type. Two hand controlled sticks were used to operate the car that had an inner tube-like bumper. Cars were in all different colors. Power was distributed through the floor, rather than the ceiling.2002–presentThese cars were the replacement to the cars that were destroyed in the fire. They now occupy Rides At Adventure Cove as "Condor Craze".
Shark Attack Water Slide This red slide held up to three people and let sliders go up onto the side of the slides through centripetal force while turning.1997–2006Occupied former home of "Buccaneer Bay". The Shark Attack ride was moved to Sams Surf City in Pensacola Florida. The ride is still called Shark Attack.
Zuma Falls Water Slide Two gentle generic white water slides. Riders rode tubes down this open slide.1994–2006Started from same tower as the "Jet Stream". Auctioned off to "the Beach" when Wyandot Lake closed.
Jet Stream Water Slide Two fast black covered water slides, with small holes of light throughout.unknown-2006Started from same tower as the "Zuma Falls". Auctioned off to "the Beach" when Wyandot Lake closed.
Splash SlidesBody SlidesThree body slides (one straight down, one curvy, and one completely covered). The two open slides were light blue, while the covered slide was a greenish color. These slides could be seen well from the parking lot.unknown-2006Name changed frequently with different sponsors, such as "Ice Mountain Splash" and "Sunkist Splash". The covered slide, named "The Phantom", was hardly ever open and eventually was permanently closed around 2003.

Theme Song

The Zoombezi Bay theme song "Zoombezi Bay" was written and produced by freelance musician Kelly Warner from Columbus, Ohio. Vocals were performed by Nachilus Kezuck and Brian O'Dell. [13]

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