Amusement Park marks first year

Thursday, July 6, 2006

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Bill Ryan⁄The Gazette
Jevonte Wright, 6, of Herndon, Va., and his father Joulious Wright, ride the bumper boats at Adventure Park, USA in New Market on Saturday.

Approaching his facility’s one-year anniversary in the New Market area this weekend, Adventure Park USA owner Larry Stottlemyer said the growth of the amusement park has exceeded his expectations.

The Western theme park drew an estimated 28,000 visitors in April and 24,000 in May, Stottlemyer said.

Nestled on 17.5 acres off Interstate 70 across from New Market, Adventure Park USA includes a 22,000-square-foot building with an arcade of about 100 video games, an indoor rope course, a rock wall and a laser tag arena. Two go-kart tracks, a bumper boat ride, a paintball course and a carousel offer outdoor entertainment.

The former putt-putt and laser tag course owner, who closed his Frederick franchise in 2003 to open the New Market area amusement park, said crowd size has swelled since the park’s doors opened.

‘‘This is completely different than anything else we’ve experienced with putt-putt,” Stottlemyer said. ‘‘The [popularity of] the bumper boats really surprised me. People love to get wet.”

Prior to the park’s opening, Stottlemyer said he and family members who are co-investors sent 7,000 fliers to residents in the region announcing a meeting at New Market Elementary school in which plans for the park would be explained. About 170 people attended and voiced concerns about traffic, noise and light pollution.

Stottlemyer said as traffic exits from Interstate 70 into the park without cutting through town, residents have embraced the park as a nearby recreation option.

‘‘We had a warm reception from New Market residents,” Stottlemyer said. ‘‘We were very proactive when we came here. We let everyone know what we were about and what we were planning. I think they realize now I really don’t impact New Market. We’re on the other side of the highway. Our lights and noise don’t really affect anyone.”

Next year, Adventure Park USA anticipates moving forward on renovating and installing a roughly 40-foot-high, half-mile roller coaster track once used at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va.

Called the Wild Cat, the coaster will offer a roughly 1 1⁄2-minute ride and includes several sharp turns but no loops.

Three acres have been reserved for a $6 million water park, for which planning has been complete and construction is awaiting permits. The water park will feature a wave pool, a ‘‘lazy river” for floating, a tower with several slides and a children’s section with buckets and water activities, Stottlemyer said.

New Market last month initiated an annexation request to add the park into its boundaries. That move would allow the town to collect taxes from the park. At a recent town meeting Stottlemyer announced his consent to the request, which would allow him to more easily move forward with constructing the water park, as the park would then abide by New Market’s amusement park ordinance rather than the Frederick County ordinance.