BUFORD — Employees at Lanier Islands have turned the water park and surrounding beach area into a winter-themed wonderland, complete with mounds of snow and an ice skating rink.
Open for business later this week, Winter Adventure at LanierWorld features many of the familiar slides and typically summer-friendly attractions known to visitors, except it’s on ice — or in some cases, synthetic materials designed to look a lot like ice.
An expanded version of the previous year’s Snow World, the resort actually delayed the opening of Magical Nights of Lights and Winter Adventure due to all the recent rain, but both will begin Friday.
Using several snow blowing machines, “snow groomers” have spent the past few days building up layers of snow for play areas around the park.
Snow groomer Corey Harrison, 19, helped spread the icy stuff more than a foot deep.
“The key,” Harrison said, “is making sure you keep it fairly level and even. You don’t want any trenches where somebody can fall. You want it as even as possible.”
Once spread on the ground, insulated mats are draped across the fresh snow to slow the melting process until opening day.
Employees like Harrison have also helped line some park slides with a synthetic material designed to mimic the look of snow.
Also new this year are the Spectacular Screen — a 46-by-80-foot high-definition movie screen — and Knockerball, which is a game where guests crawl into one of 16 large spheres and can roll, flip and bounce along the beach.
Magical Nights of Lights continues this year as well, with a 6-mile driving tour and a new app for smart phones that “turns each in-car experience into an evening of Christmas wishes,” said Cindy Wahl, director of marketing at Lanier Islands.
“Trigger points throughout the drive will engage guests with music and a custom story for each light display section.”
She said the app also includes family car game suggestions and a map of the islands.
Virgil Williams, chairman of the board and owner of Lanier Islands, said he feels the winter-themed attractions are “a perfect holiday experience for the whole family.”
He added that active duty and veterans of the American military, as well as law enforcement personnel, would be granted free admission through the Islands gate and into the Magical Nights of Lights.
“It’s our way of giving back in the spirit of the holiday season and as thanks for their service to our country and our community,” Williams said.
Wahl said Lanier Islands is also looking for seasonal and full-time employees. Those interested in working at Magical Nights of Lights or Winter Adventure can visit lanierislands.com.
Ticket pricing for both attractions inside Lanier Islands is also available on the website.