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Grab your board – Splash in the Boro ready to unveil new attraction

May 05, 2017

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Everything is on track for the May 20 opening of Splash in the Boro, according to Mike Rollins, director of the Statesboro Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department.

“If the weather stays good and all the stars are aligned, I think we’ll be successful. If we’re not, I think we’ll be very close,” he said.

That’s good news for locals, and for people from the surrounding area as well.

The attraction, located at Mill Creek Regional Park, 1388 Highway 24 East in Statesboro, has been undergoing a $5.7 million expansion. Included in that is a 19, 500-square-foot-wave pool, designed for people of all ages. The front entrance has also been redesigned, and the entry road rerouted, in addition to new concessions and restroom areas. A new winter bathhouse will provide needed additional space. 

The wave pool is the largest portion of the expansion project, totaling around $4.3 million. Rollins said it will increase the capacity of the park by about 30 percent.

“It will allow us to bring a lot more people into the park, especially on Saturday, which is our peak day,” he added. The new features in this phase of expansion will also add about 70 new part-time jobs.

The park also features attractions for people of all ages such as the lazy river, water slides, pools, a snack shack and a sandwich shop.

The redesign of the entrance was crucial, Rollins said. The previous modification of that area of the park was in 2008-2009, when a new ticket area was added.

“But we were still very compact in there because of the roadway, so we chose as part of this phase of construction to redo that front roadway, and create more area in the front of the facility,” he said.

On heavy days, that area becomes very congested, with spillover close to the roadway, which is a potentially dangerous situation.

“We felt like it was important to spend some of our resources on redoing that front entry,” Rollins said.  He added that a large transformer in that area had to be moved as part of that process, and although it was expensive, it was worth it for the safety of park patrons.

Over the years, as the park has expanded, so has the need for more staff. Splash employs about 200 lifeguards annually, Rollins said, and the staff had nowhere to go during a shift change. They had used a tent at one time. The expansion at the dome/bathhouse will provide the needed space.

“(A tent) works for a little while, but sometimes you have people who need to get in out of the sun, and even with our patrons, we didn’t have a great place to do first aid. This addition will give us a place to do indoor birthday parties during the winter months, and even during the summer. Also, staff training, training them on software systems, getting them certified and trained to do lifesaving. It requires a lot of time and energy and a location. If you don’t have an indoor location, you’re in trouble,” he said.

Splash is open about 70 to 75 hours a week during the season, which runs from the weekend before Memorial Day through the first week of August, and then just on weekends through the Labor Day weekend.

This year there will be an increase in the price of admission, Rollins said. Prices are as follows:  regular admission for those over 48 inches tall, $18.99; under 48 inches, $13.99. The cost for discounted tickets is $13.99 for those taller than 48 inches, $10.99 under. Discounts are available to Bulloch County residents, active military and Georgia Southern University or Ogeechee Technical College students or staff. Children 2 years old and younger get in free.  Group and corporate rates are available, as well as season passes.

Rollins said they have worked to keep ticket prices as low as possible.

“We’ve always wanted to provide and maintain a facility that has family appeal that is affordable for families. We’ll still be affordable for families, but at the same time, you can’t give it away. We’re going up some on our daily admissions. Our in-county numbers will obviously still be lower than people out of county. But it will be affordable,” he said.

Rollins said the cost of concessions is also going up because the cost of food has gone up. But even the food will be kept at reasonable prices. Keeping the cost affordable overall is key, he said.

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve been successful is that we’re affordable. If you’ve got young families, with two or three small children, it can be a lot to go to a water park. We’ll have many of the same amenities, but with a smaller price,” he added.

Splash has been a boon for the Statesboro community. In an economic impact study, conducted by Georgia Southern University, it was found that Splash draws a significant amount of out-of-county visitors, and that the total economic impact of the park is estimated at $8.6 million in gross county output.

“We know that we are now a destination, especially with this expansion. We have a lot of people that come in, they’re spending all day here, and they’re usually eating a meal probably somewhere in town, or buying gas or pickup up something at the mall,” Rollins said. “We feel like we have a significant local economic impact on the community and it’s a positive one. Those dollars are staying right here.”

Rollins said that when he came on board as director in 1986, the rec department’s pools, which had been in place since the 1950s, were in terrible shape and in need of repair. At the time, he said people out west were looking at aquatic centers as moneymakers and not just something you had to do – and there wasn’t one in Georgia.

“We did a feasibility study on an aquatic facility and it was very positive. It felt like it was the direction we needed to go. We were looking at ways to generate revenue, to help pay the cost of those quality of life things, because we knew we could do more if we could do that. That was the whole idea behind Mill Creek. It took time to convince our county, because it’s a big step, to spend $5 million for a community our size to open a water park that might be open 3 months out of the year,” he said, adding that the caveat was that they would offer programming year-round in the dome.

And that’s just what has transpired. The water park pays for its own costs, and has paid for past expansion. It will also pay for this one, Rollins said.

“Probably 70 percent of the attendance at the water park is from out of county people. That’s people that are coming in and they’re bringing their money and they’re leaving it with us. They’re paying for a facility that helps our community,” he said.

Splash in the Boro is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. on May 20. For more information or to purchase tickets, go online at


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