Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Lost Lagoon' Vision

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Lost Lagoon' Vision

Article excerpt

WATER PARK: Manatee ready to negotiate with developers of attraction

MANATEE COUNTY -- A proposal for a water theme park first pitched last fall is ready to be negotiated by the developers and Manatee County, which owns the proposed site.

If a newly formed amusement park business and the county can strike a deal, "Lost Lagoon" -- a water theme park to be built at a location visible from Interstate 75 -- is expected to become a prominent recreation destination for area residents and visitors.

Plans submitted to the county describe a park with "a dense tropical jungle theme" featuring winding pathways, a simulated beach, a "slow-flowing, lazy river," slides, toddler play pool, children's play area, teenager ropes course, an amphitheater, an adult pool and more -- with land set aside for expansion.

"A fun family experience," Manatee Lost Lagoon Development states in its 400-page proposal.

The park's closest competitor would be 25-year-old Adventure Island in Tampa, a distance of about 60 miles. In 2013, that water park reportedly attracted 638,000 patrons.

The Lost Lagoon team thinks it would have a better location: 20 acres of the 200-acre, county-owned Tom Bennett Park northwest of the I-75 and State Road 64 interchange.

The Orlando-based development team foresees the park attracting customers from south Tampa to Naples.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, thinks a water theme park at that location would have "a nice regional impact" for Manatee's tourism industry.

"It's another amenity that will give people a reason to add to the length of their stay," Falcione said. "And it helps us focus on all corners of the county, not just the beaches and Lakewood Ranch."

Whether Lost Lagoon becomes a reality depends on the county and the developers' striking a mutually beneficial deal.

In September, the County Commission heard a pitch from the partners behind Lost Lagoon.

The commissioners liked the concept and put out a request for proposals to see if any others wanted to submit ideas for an aquatics-based attraction at Bennett Park. The county received two responses, of which only the Lost Lagoon project met its criteria. …

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