Day three of this Southeast visit would start back along the Gulf Coast area, in the town of Foley, Alabama and a visit to the fairly new complex called OWA. The place has been open for over a year, and it just a bit north of the location of Waterville USA. The whole complex features not just the amusement park, but also a whole dining and retail area as well, which featured a variety of places including larger chains like Whalburgers, and with plans to open a Paula Dean’s Family Kitchen in the future. When walking through the complex, it definitely appears that they are still in the opening/growing phase as there were several vacant buildings on the end away from the amusement park, but the area close to the park is pretty well established at this point.
But of course, the main reason for this visit was the amusement park, which is somewhere in the small to midsized range, as it does offer a selection of over 20 rides, including the three coasters that were ridden during the visit. The park looks great with being a new facility, and they also did a nice amount of work with the landscaping to add to an inviting atmosphere, unlike some places where it seems like they just put rides onto concrete slabs and call it a park. If there is one thing that will stick out to the more seasoned theme park visitor who is more familiar with the ride manufacturers, this park is essentially a living catalog for Zamperla, as it appears that a vast majority of the rides (if not all of them) are one built by them.
As for the coasters, one is more of a shameless credit, the Southern Express, which is a standard Family Gravity model that is seen at a large number of parks both big and small. Certainly more geared to the younger (or young at heart) as it is the kind that is often a younger kid’s first coaster. Another was a fairly standard spinning mouse style coaster called Crazy Mouse. While the layout was the same as what seems like 99.99999994% of these types of coasters, this one did seem to spin a lot more than others that were previously written. Couldn’t tell you if it was a difference in the building of the ride, or if it was in part from it being only about a year old, but it certainly made for a really wild ride!
The star of OWA though is Rollin’ Thunder. This model of coaster is the same as the Thunderbolt at Luna Park in Coney Island, but here at OWA it really sticks out as it is one of the tallest structures of the complex, and it sits in the middle of the park going the full length of it, with the rest of the rides and midways built around it. It certainly has a grand appearance as the premier ride of the park, and the ride experience also makes it stand out from the rest of the park. Having ridden Thunderbolt last year, I should have been more prepared for what to expect with this ride, but I actually didn’t seem to recall the experience being like it was on Rollin’ Thunder, as there were some great moments of airtime, and because of the way the restraints are built on the coaster, it manages to have some “freedom” while still keeping you secured, so you really can feel the affects of the airtime of the ride.
After a few hours at OWA, it was time to get on the road, and it would be a LOOOOOONG drive going from Foley to Huntsville. While I had seen on the maps that it would be a longer drive, I don’t think it ever really hit me just how long of a drive it really is until you actually do it, as it took close to six hours when accounting for a lunch stop and others along the way. It was neat though to see the change in the terrain as you get further north, as I had not realized Alabama had the rolling hills it does to the North side.
After getting to Huntsville, it was time to make a quick shameless credit stop at Southern Adventures. This place is more of a family entertainment center with an arcade, a couple of rides, batting cages, mini golf, go carts, and a small water park with a few slides. While it’s not the kind of place that people will make plans to go out of their way to visit (unless you are like me and go out of your way for shameless coasters), it certainly gives the locals and Huntsville visitors a good variety of activities to enjoy.
As for why this stop was made, that would be for a classic Alan Herschell style coaster, the Renegade. While these coasters are not going to break speed records, some of them can give a pretty fun ride as they can have a quickness to them, and this one felt like it was a bit out of control at times, especially when going through the last turn before getting back into the station. Perhaps it’s the heavier build of the trains compared to the junior coasters that are built today that makes it more forceful, but either way, it certainly isn’t a boring ride, it’s just good old plain fun!
Before the night was done, there was a much shorter drive over to Decatur for the Morgan County Fair. As I have been to a wide number of county fairs, this one felt like the real focus of the fair was on the carnival itself. Granted, I did enter the gate that was alongside of the carnival, and I didn’t go to as much of the other areas of the fair, from what I did see that was still open, it felt like there was less to see of the exhibits and the animals that you would see at other fairs. Of course more time spent here or perhaps an earlier arrival may have show otherwise. That’s not to say that it was a bad fair though, especially if you were to come for the rides, as there was a large selection of rides courtesy of the operator of the carnival, Modern Midways.
Since it had already been a pretty long day, I was only planning to ride any coasters they had, and unlike my previous attempt with visiting the Chelan County Fair back home in Washington, as well as a few other fairs in the past, I did actually do my homework and contact Modern Midways before going to see if they would have any coasters. The response was that there was going to be a Wacky Worm, but upon arrival, I had the pleasant surprise of their being a Dragon Wagon as well. So it ended up being a two credit stop for what was expected to be just one.
And with that, the last full day was complete for this visit to the Southeast, and it was time to head back to the hotel in Huntsville for the night. OWA was a really nice park that I would gladly come back to visit again if the opportunity presented itself, especially as it looks like it has a lot of potential for growth in the future, and the drive North was quite pleasant, even if a bit on the long side.