WATERLOO, Iowa — Iowa’s newest theme park is rising from a former farm field south of Waterloo.
The purple supports and tracks of a roller coaster soar above the snow-covered ground, and buildings are beginning to spring up as construction workers continue to labor through the winter.
Work is projected to continue through 2021, and the Lost Island Theme Park remains on track for a 2022 grand opening, according to officials.
“It’s going to be a huge asset for the city,” said Tavis Hall, executive director for Experience Waterloo.
Even though it will only be open for a few months out of the year, the attraction is expected to be a large boost for the Cedar Valley economy.
Hall said the total economic impact will be about $32 million a year once open, according to a study undertaken in 2019. That includes $6 million for food and beverage, $5 million for retail, $4 million for overnight lodging and $2 million for recreation, he said.
“Most folks, when they come from out of town, they are going to make a weekend out of it and stop at restaurants,” Hall said.
Gary Bertch, who is taking on the project with his wife, Becky, said plans for the theme park have been in the works for a decade. They came up with the idea as a way to fill a gap in the children’s and family-oriented entertainment in the area.
Hall said the park will pair well with other attractions in the area.
“From a community branding standpoint it’s awesome for us to have this amazing addition to the market,” Hall said.
The Bertch’s also operate Lost Island Water Park — which opened in 2001 and is rated one of the best in the nation — the Bamboo Ridge Campground, Monaleo Adventure Golf and Monaleo’s Speedway go-cart track, which are across the road from the theme park site.
The Isle Casino Hotel is also across the road.
Stretching out over 90 acres and with a cost of around $100 million, the Lost Island Theme Park will have a 30-acre lake and five different “lands,” according to earlier reports. Concept art shows amusement park rides and play areas scattered among a volcano, temple ruins, statues and huts.