Are We There Yet? OWA Parks and Resort, Foley, Alabama
By Linda Holloway – Photography by Larry Holloway
We recently tagged along with our son, Lance Holloway, and two of the most adorable children on the planet…Collins, age 3, and Landon, age 7. Can you tell we are grandparents? It does not seem possible our oldest grandson is now at the University of Alabama. Multi-generational vacations benefit every age group. Sadly, the treasured childhood years fly by. So, pack your bags and get ready to answer this question more than once… “Are We There Yet?”
The beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, were our first stop. Here, plastic shovels and buckets were used to make roads and tunnels. Plus, chasing waves, finding seashells, and kite-flying were everyday occurrences. There is more! Our magical destination—OWA Parks and Resort in nearby Foley, Alabama, did not disappoint.
New Multi-Million Addition to Tropic Falls: The name OWA means “big water” and it comes from the Muskogee Creek language. It is owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which are descendants of the original Creek Nation. OWA is located on the Foley Beach Express—minutes from the beach. OWA’s centerpiece is Tropic Falls, with 23 theme-park rides, an indoor water park with the newest additions—Big Water Bay, a 30,000 square foot outdoor wave pool, and Coastal Curl, surf simulator. Nestled at the top of the wave pool, is a performance stage area--slated to host live performances and the show the latest water themed movies.
Entering Tropic Falls, we noticed the pedestrian road and sidewalks were immaculate, and I was very impressed with the way the entire park was maintained. We decided to do the theme park one day and the water park the next, but energetic families may choose to do both the same day. It turned out to be a great decision for us because it rained on day two. No worries, the kids played in the water park for hours while the rain pelted the roof above.
The rides range from kid-friendly to hair-raising. Landon and Lance went straight to the ride, Crazy Mouse, which gives riders a 360-degree view as the mice scurry up and down the tracks. We were all brave and enjoyed a trip through the Mystic Mansion, a frightfully fun, interactive ride inside a themed “mansion.” While it was at first a bit scary for Collins, she soon started aiming at the “scary” targets. It was my favorite ride of the day.
The youngest kids will enjoy rides including Flying Aces, Gully Washer, Happy Haulers, Wacky Waters, and Zip Zap Race. Collins barely met the 36-inch requirement for the Swingin’ Fun and surprised us with her bravery. Lance, Landon, and Collins enjoyed the loveable ride, Tea Time, where they were spun around in decorative “tea cups.” Older kids and adults will enjoy the numerous thrill rides including the Thrilling Rollin’ Thunder. This coaster will have you twisting, turning, looping and dropping all day long, and it is one of the most popular rides in the park.
Downtown OWA: Here, you will find dining, shopping, and entertainment, plus award-winning accommodations are nearby. We took a break from the ride area and dined at Valerio’s Pizza and Italian restaurant. Try the delicious Parmesan Alfredo, Spaghetti Pomodoro, and Baked Meatballs. The kids’ menu has perfect portions. You will find numerous dining options, including Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Step back in time to a 1950’s vibe at the Hershey’s Ice Cream Parlor—delicious! I was happy to find my favorite store, Fairhope Soap Company, along with other specialty shops.
For entertainment, try the Brandon Styles Theater, featuring a lineup of ever-changing acts and shows, including his variety, magic comedy, impressions, as well as dinner shows. The kids were entertained while Lance “dropped” a few dollars at the Arcades at OWA and Tropic Falls. Fun! Collins named all the stuffed animals, and they made it safely back to Tuscaloosa.
Tropic Falls’ Indoor Water Park offers an island vibe beneath a soaring, convertible room, and just outside, visitors can bask in a tropical-themed wave pool. Tuki’s Tower is a kid friendly tropical play structure featuring 5 slides and a dump bucket tower. This is where Collins and I spent most of the day while Lance and Landon dove in for an adrenaline rush on exciting water attractions.
Serpentine Swirl is a body slide that turns and twist with high-banking loops. At Aqua Chaser, grab 3 family members and compete to see who reaches the bottom first. Lance and Landon had the most fun on the Citrus Cyclone on a boat-like inflatable tube. Each boat drops and dives throughout the slide, accelerating into high-speed turns.
You do not need to leave the waterpark to find good food. At Grub, celebrate the Caribbean vibes of Tropic Falls’ island-inspired menu. The pizza was amazing and passed our little grandchildren’s, AKA pizza connoisseurs’ taste test. The hamburgers were big and juicy also. It was great to enjoy a meal around a table and rest for a while. Of course, there is too much to do at OWA to rest for very long. We packed this OWA memory away, along with the hundreds of photos Larry made, and checked it off for round two next year.
For park information, call 251-923-2111 or visit, www.VisitOWA.com
For accommodations and park tickets, stay the night at OWA at TownePlace Suites by Marriot—steps from the park. Ask about Tropic Falls Thrill and Chill Combo Ticket Package, and use the promotional code THM when booking online at https://visitowa.com/hotel/