BATAVIA — The newest attraction coming to Darien Lake this summer will be a twisting rush of color pitting up to six racers down a sliding, 300-foot long water-slide raceway.
A $189,200 sales tax incentive took a drier path through the Genesee County Economic Development Center’s board of directors Thursday.
The incentive received unanimous approval from the GCEDC board, although members told GCEDC staff they’d prefer it if the request separated how the impact of the $2.88 million investment into a single ride would have benefitted the total employment of the theme park.
“I’m struggling with how to justify this one narrow project retains 409 jobs,” GCEDC Board Vice Chairman Mary Ann Wiater said. “We’d be better suited if (the stated benefits) were narrowed to this project.”
In practice, Theme Park General Manager Chris Thorpe said four seasonal workers will man the ride throughout the summer. But having new attractions enhances the park as a whole, which maintains and grows the visitor population, along with the spending that fuels the entire workforce at Darien Lake.
“It gives us the ability to retain levels of staffing through the ebbs and flows, and grow full-time and seasonal (positions),” Thorpe said.
“Our expansion last year helped drive people into our accommodations in the hotel, camping and glamping, and we needed a coordinator,” that was hired full-time for 2016, Thorpe said.
The incentive is estimated by the GCEDC to have a 1,137-to-one economic impact.
“It’s a highly complex and competitive business, and this enterprise is the second largest sales tax generator in the county,” GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde told the board. “We have to save them a little here to keep them viable.”
Darien Lake is set to open in just 73 days, Thorpe told the GCEDC board Thursday, with the six-flume slide set to be built beginning in March and operating by May. Its name will be revealed during an event next week, but it will provide a new experience at Darien Lake.
Riders will ride face-first through a series of translucent and integrated pipes that spit out into a straightaway that shoots them toward the finish line.
“We’re very excited about the attraction,” Thorpe said. “It’s like jumping to warp speed.”
The ride would be situated between an existing lazy river and the park’s main entrance and could have up to 900 riders per hour. Thorpe said it will smooth out a section of Darien Lake, which developed several crowded pinch-points last summer due to growing attendance.
Thorpe said the theme park is also investing in a new roller coaster train that will replace and upgrade the Ride of Steel roller coaster that serves as the tallest plunge in Darien Lake’s skyline. It replaces the 1999-debuted ride’s original train and will accommodate up to 36 riders per cycle.
“It will be a smoother, more efficient ride for our guests and cut down on the nuisance mechanical downtime,” Thorpe said. “It’s another arrow in our sling.”