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Prehistoric entertainment coming to Okaloosa Island
After years of planning and delays, what is set to become Wild Willy's Adventure Zone is under construction on Okaloosa Island. And many say it will be an economic benefit to the area.
Originally, Wild Willy's was supposed to be a 4,000 square foot attraction. The finalized plans grew to over 14,000 square feet, with indoor and outdoor features. It'll have a putt-putt course, movie theater, laser maze, arcade, and pizza restaurant. A prehistoric theme will place animatronic dinosaurs, checked by palentologists from Kansas University for accuracy, around the entire park. BJ Armstrong, is visiting from Kentucky, and says a feature like Wild Willy's would help convince him to plan a second trip to Okaloosa Island.
"Yeah, I would with my kids. We're not with my kids right now, but I would definitely bring them back and let them try something like that."
The attraction will sit on county owned property in the Veteran's Park. Each year, the ownership group of Wild Willy's will pay 65,000 dollars to the county. They'll use that money to care for the Veteran's Park. Toni Richardson manages the Best Western on the Island, and says the opening of a large attraction like this one is good for that area.
"Obviously, as you know, we share a market with Destin and Panama City and Pensacola, we fight for market share. And what we don't have on Okaloosa Island is an attraction just like that."
She says adding a place like Willy's to other attractions on the Island like the Gulfarium will give tourists more of a reason to pick Okaloosa Island as a destination.
"When people are looking for travel they're looking not only for their stay, they're looking for their dining experience, and also their entertainment and fun. That will make a big difference."
Richardson says family friendly attractions will make a huge difference. And, as Armstrong says, you can only go to the beach so often...
"You can look at my legs. My legs are already sunburned. I've had enough beach time. My kids get tired of the beach too."
Project managers say Wild Willy's should be open by the end of 2014.