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Zoombezi Bay
Zoombezi Bay Logo.png
Location Powell, Ohio, United States
Owner Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Opened 1946 (1946) (as zoo park)
26 May 2008 (2008-05-26) (as water park)
Previous names Wyandot Lake - 1984 to 2006
Gooding Zoo Park - 1946 to 1984
Operating season May to September
Area 22.7 acres (92,000 m2)
Water rides 17
Status Operating

Zoombezi Bay is a 22.7-acre (9.2 ha) water park owned by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium near Powell, Ohio just north of Columbus. The park sits on the site of the former Wyandot Lake Adventure Park, which was purchased by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2006. Zoombezi Bay opened to the public on May 26, 2008, and currently ranks as one of the Midwest's most popular water parks, attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually.


Wyandot Lake

Wyandot Lake Logo
Wyandot Lake's Logo 199?-2006

Wyandot Lake originally began as a picnic and recreational park in 1896. In the 1940s, the area was purchased by a carnival operator to be used as winter storage for the carnival's rides. The area soon developed into an amusement park. In 1956, the Jet Flyer was added as the park's first roller coaster; (later known as the Sea Dragon). Following the park owner's death in the 1970s, ownership was transferred to the City of Columbus, which leased the property to Ohio-based Funtime, Inc. in 1983. Construction soon began on Wyandot Lake Adventure Park, which officially opened on May 24, 1984. Funtime Inc. was then acquired by Premier Parks in 1995. Premier Parks, originally an Oklahoma-based real estate company named TierCo, ventured into the entertainment industry when it purchased the Frontier City theme park in 1983. It later acquired Six Flags in 1999, and changed its name to Six Flags Inc.

Under new ownership, the amusement park continued to operate under the name Wyandot Lake. However, by 2003, Six Flags began experiencing financial difficulties, and began the process to sell multiple properties. In June 2006, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced that it had entered an agreement with Six Flags to purchase Wyandot Lake for $2 million, which would be finalized later in the year. Six Flags – struggling with annual losses since 1999 – was eager to negotiate with the nearby zoo amid city plans to realign Powell Road, which would cut through a portion of Wyandot Lake. Shortly thereafter, the Zoo announced plans to invest nearly $45 million to substantially re-develop the former Wyandot Lake property. Officials projected that by expanding Wyandot Lake and operating it in tandem with the zoo, both facilities would become substantially more attractive, with the potential to produce more than $1.3 million in annual profit.

Wyandot Lake included both a dry amusement park area, as well as a full waterpark. Among the hightlights of the amusement park was the Mangels-Illions Grand Carousel. The carousel was one of only a few manufactured by the William F. Mangels Company with wooden horses carved by M.C. Illions and Sons. In 1999, the carousel was removed from Wyandot Lake and underwent a one million dollar restoration before being moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Original Wyandot Lake Wave Pool
Original Wyandot Lake Wave Pool

Wyandot Lake's Wild Tides Wave Pool had a maximum depth of 9 feet.

Substantial portions of the former amusement park were incorporated into the Zoo, becoming Jungle Jack's Landing, Animal Encounters Village, and Colo's Cove Picnic Grove areas. An expanded parking lot and new entry plaza were also constructed, and a 22.7-acre (9.2 ha) parcel on the corner of Powell Road and Riverside Drive was set aside for a new water park.


Zoombezi Bay Construction 2007
Construction of Zoombezi Bay in 2007

In October 2006, work began to remove the former picnic area and clear trees and other out-dated rides. Many older attractions and equipment were auctioned off. Wyandot Lake's popular "Jet Stream" and "Zuma Falls" water slides were purchased for $500 by The Beach Water Park, located in Mason, Ohio. Construction continued through the summer of 2007, with nearly all of the park's 22.7 acres (9.2 ha) undergoing a complete transformation. $20 million was invested to construct three new water slide complexes, along with a new 554,500 gallon wave pool and a 1,500 feet (460 m), 1.5 million gallon "Action River".

During the summer of 2007, an online contest was held to name the new water park. More than 3,000 people voted, and the name Zoombezi Bay was selected from a list that also included Kisawa Waves, Katoomba Lagoon, Kahuna Island, and Tahiti Waves.

By the time the park re-opened as Zoombezi Bay on May 26, 2008, only two attractions from the former Wyandot Lake remained within the water park. Christopher's Island was refurbished and renamed Barracuda Bay (2008-2013), while Canoochee Creek was renamed Croctail Creek and now serves as the park's adults-only lazy river. The park's former classic Sea Dragon roller coaster still stands along the park's perimeter, now serving as the signature attraction of the zoo's Rides At Adventure Cove area. Other former Wyandot Lake buildings can still be seen standing around the park's perimeter, but are now separated from the water park by fences and landscaping.

Growth and Expansion

On December 5, 2010, during the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's annual Jack Hanna's Into the Wildlights holiday television special, Columbus Zoo Executive Director Dale Schmidt announced Zoombezi Bay's first major expansion, which included the addition of two new water slides from manufacturer WhiteWater West. Python Plunge would be WhiteWater's first 45 feet (14 m) tall Master Blaster Express uphill water coaster, while Big Boa Falls represented WhiteWater's first Boomerango Express half-pipe tube slide. Both attractions opened to the public on May 21, 2011.

For the 2014 season, Zoombezi Bay announced that it would be retiring an attraction that represented childhood memories for many Central Ohioans. After 17 years of entertaining guests, Barracuda Bay (formerly Christopher's Island) was demolished to make room for an all-new, highly themed AquaPlay RainFortress from WhiteWater West. The new children's area, named Baboon Lagoon after the 16 lifelike baboons that can be seen climbing atop the structure, features nine new children's water slides, 90+ interactive water play features, heated water, and a giant orange octopus who's tentacles reach nearly 40 feet (12 m) in the air, dumping a giant 1,000 gallon bucket over the structure every 10 minutes. The new addition represented a $4.5 million investment for the property, making it one of the largest in the park's history. Baboon Lagoon opened to the public on May 17, 2014, and would go on to win an award for Best New Product in Themed Exhibit Design from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

The highest attendance number that Zoombezi Bay ever achieved was in 2016 with 426,376 guests. The busiest month in Zoombezi Bay’s history was also in 2016 – when the waterpark welcomed 161,534 visitors in the month of June.

For the 2016 season, Zoombezi bay transformed its former Tahitian Twister slide (which opened with the park in 2008) to a new slide, now known as the Soundsurfer, "King of the beats." This new attraction features colorful LED lights, and also plays music that guests choose at the top of the tower before getting on the slide. The slide also went through a re-paint, and the slides new colors are orange and white, instead of the former colors, blue and black. These new features make this slide the first of its kind in America.


Current Attractions

Name Description Height Requirement Manufacturer Operated Notes
Wild Tides Wave Pool 532,000 gallon wave pool with a maximum depth of six feet. Waves can reach up to four feet high. Children 36" and smaller must wear a PFD unless accompanied within arms reach of a parent. Aquatic Development Group 2008–present
Roaring Rapids 570,000 gallons of water for 1,500 feet (460 m) at 32 inches deep and an average of 17 feet (5.2 m) wide. Children 36" and smaller must wear a PFD unless accompanied within arms reach of a parent. Aquatic Development Group 2008–present
Baboon Lagoon Custom-themed AquaPlay RainFortress™, featuring 9 water slides, 90 interactive elements, heated pools, and a 1,000 gallon tipping bucket. Winner of 2014 IAAPA Best New Product in Themed Exhibit Design. Slides: 36" or 42" depending on slide WhiteWater West 2014–present Replaces Barracuda Bay (1997-2013).
Tiny Tides 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) shallow water (0" to 22" max depth) playground for smaller children. Located near Baboon Lagoon. Under 36" 2008–present Formerly known as Katoomba Lagoon (2008-2013).
Slippery Seals Three unique body "speed slides". Part of the "Sea Splash" Complex. 48" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Sea Snakes One- or two-person raft slides starting from a 51-foot (16 m) tower with the premier attraction being a bowl shaped slide section where the rider slides around the side of the bowl in a circular motion. Part of the "Sea Splash" Complex. 48" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Sea Tubes One or two person serpentine raft slides from 51 feet (16 m). Part of the "Sea Splash" Complex. 48" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Cyclone Two- to four-person enclosed slide featuring a steep drop into a giant funnel. 48"-700 lb (320 kg) combined ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Soundsurfer Five-person partially enclosed raft slide with colorful lights and music 48" or 42" and accompanied by an adult, 800 lb (360 kg) combined ProSlide Technology 2016–present First ever (outdoor) slide of its kind in the United States. (Was originally the Tahitian Twister from 2008-2015)
Dolphin Dash Six lane mat racer slide. 42" ProSlide Technology 2008–present
Big Boa Falls Two person reverse freefall raft slide featuring a 30 feet (9.1 m) half-pipe adjacent to Python Plunge. 48" WhiteWater West 2011–present First Boomerango Express in the United States and one of only six Boomerango tube slides in the country.
Python Plunge Two person uphill water coaster adjacent to Big Boa Falls. 48" WhiteWater West 2011–present First Master Blaster Express in the United States.
Croctail Island Secluded, adults-only sun deck and bar. Surrounded by Croctail Creek. Age: 21+ only 1984–2019
Sandbar at Croctail Creek Adults-only area with sun deck, lounge space, and daiquiri bar, with swim-up access. Age: 21+ only Aquatic Development Group 2020 - present Replaced Croctail Island for the 2020 season.
Croctail Creek Adults-only lazy river that surrounds a man-made island with wooden sun deck. A defining feature is the tunnel below the neighboring Sea Dragon wooden roller coaster. Croctail Creek received a full refurbishment for the 2020 season, with the entrance being relocated, and a new lounge pool and swim-up bar being added. Age: 21+ only 1984–present Formerly known as Canoochee Creek (1984-2006). Croctail Creek is the only attraction that allows patrons to consume alcohol while in the water. Fully refurbished for the 2020 season.
Sand Piper Splash 2 body slides that terminate in either a 4 foot or 6 foot drop. Part of the "Otter Banks" Complex 48" 2018-present
Sea Challenge Wibit water obstacle course. Part of the "Otter Banks" Complex 44" 2018 - present
Sand Dollar Shores Zero depth entry pool with basketball area Children 42" and smaller must wear a PFD unless accompanied within arms reach of a parent. 2018 - present

Former Wyandot Lake Attractions

Old Wyandot Lake
A very old picture showing the original carousel and the Sea Dragon, which was then called the Jet Flyer.
Name Type Description Operating Notes/Fate
Starfish Ferris wheel A 16-seat Eli Bridge chain driven "Aristocrat" Ferris wheel. unknown-2006
Christopher's Island Water Treehouse A three section water treehouse. Pirate themed. 1997–2013 Renamed Barracuda Bay in 2008; removed after the 2013 season to make way for the all new Baboon Lagoon in 2014.
Hum-Dinghies Allan Herschell "Wet Boat" Old kiddie boat ride with real water and boats with bells attached. unknown-2004 Part of "Kiddie Land" Replaced with Kiddie Stage and Seating
Dune Buggies Hampton "Combo" Circular Hampton car ride with two sets of motorcycles. Red, yellow, and blue spinning canopy. unknown-2006 Part of "Kiddie Land"
Sand Dollar Miniature Ferris wheel Miniature Eli Bridge chain-driven Ferris wheel unknown-1997 Part of "Kiddie Land." Almost always broken down. Never Replaced.
Cod Cars Allan Herschell "Midge-O-Racer" A car ride where riders would go in a circle, but be able to change the position (radius) of their path by turning the steering wheel. unknown-1999 Part of "Kiddie Land." Replaced by "Guppies".
Guppies Eyerly "Bulgy the Whale" A small circular fish ride where colorful fish would go up-and down. (similar to the motion of a Merry-Go-Round) unknown-2006 Part of "Kiddie Land." Replaced the old circular car ride.
Tottering Turtles Chambers "Kid Turtle" A circular ride with a hill in one point. Almost like a roller coaster, but very small and electric powered throughout the ride (no chained hill). 2000–2006 Part of "Kiddie Land." Replaced the space-ship ride.
Seahorses Allan Herschell "Rodeo" This ride was almost like a little carousel (no music) and was actually horse-themed, not seahorse-themed unknown-2006 Part of "Kiddie Land." Possibly made by the same manufacturer as the old circular car ride.
Dune Cycles Hampton "Dune Cycles" A Hampton motorcycle ride with hills throughout. Spinning red and white canopy. unknown-2006 Part of "Kiddie Land."
(?) Flying Ships Four (or two?) metal spaceships hanging from an overhead canopy. unknown-1999 Part of "Kiddie Land."
Jet Fighter Allan Herschell "Skyfighter" A spinning ride where all the ships rose to 6' in the air and came down all at once. unknown-1999 Part of "Kiddie Land." Replaced with "Flying Elephants"
Flying Elephants Sartori "Elephant Ride" A spinning ride where all the elephants rose to 6' in the air and came down all at once. 2000–2006 Part of "Kiddie Land." Replaced "Jet Fighter" Similar to the current elephant ride in Rides At Adventure Cove, but not the same.
Monsoon King Amusements "Frolic" Circular ride with carts seating two people (facing each other) that could be manually spun by a wheel in the center of the car. Painted Blue with white and yellow fluorescent bulbs at top. unknown-2006
Black Squid Eyerly "Spider" This ride had six arms, and has the two cars attached right above the arm. The cars spun independently and each car had to be loaded separately by an employee. Had yellow and green fluorescent bulbs along with yellow incandescent bulbs under the downward-curving arms. unknown-2006 Not operating often, as it was subject to frequent breakdowns and long wait times (because of loading)
Neptune's Revenge Eli Bridge "Scrambler" This ride had three arms with three cars on each prong that spun as the ride goes around. Was painted white with a future-theme. unknown-present Moved to Rides At Adventure Cove, renamed "Dust Devil" and painted brown.
Barracuda (Original) Eyerly "Rock-O-Plane" Ferris wheel with completely free spinning cages. Painted Blue. unknown-1999 Removed due to safety concerns, though this is questionable. The ride that replaced it kept the same name and sign, but was actually a Tilt-A-Whirl.
Barracuda (Replacement) Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl This ride had seven cars that moved with chaotic motion around a bumpy circular track. Had generic red, white, and blue theme. 2000–present Moved to Jungle Jack's Landing, renamed "Whirligigs" and painted in a pond theme. It has since been removed and sold to Funtimes Fun Park, near Alliance, Ohio.
Sea Dragon Figure-Eight Junior Coaster This ride was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and has been giving rides ever since. 1956–present Originally named "Jet Flyer." While now part of Rides At Adventure Cove, the coaster has remained in the same location. It also kept the same name and sign (on the station), but received a fresh coat of white paint.
Grand Carousel (original) Carousel This Mangels-Illions Carousel had 52 Horses, 2 Chariots, and a Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ. 1914–1999 Beautifully and completely restored. Now sits at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Grand Carousel (replacement) Carousel Typical amusement park carousel. Had white and blue incandescent bulbs. No band organ, but played music from CD. 2000–present Kept name and old signage of "Grand Carousel"
Wild Tides Wave Pool Wave Pool Large wave pool unknown-2006 New wave pool in Zoombezi Bay kept name, but is actually a completely new and different wave pool.
Buccaneer Bay Kiddie play area This was a small kiddie play pool unknown-1997 This pool became home to the exit of "Shark Attack" when the bigger "Christopher's Island" was built in '97. ("Christopher's Island" is now called "Barracuda Bay" and is part of Zoombezi Bay)
Frog Pool Kiddie Play Area Small circular pool with small slide where toddlers would slide through a frogs mouth. Featured red mushroom water feature. unknown-2006
Canoochee Creek Lazy River This lazy river had features such as a leaky tunnel, air bubbles, steam (coming from the scenery), a bar along the way called "Croctail Island", and a "mill". unknown-present Still used today as "Crocktail Creek" in Zoombezi Bay. It is for Adults only and still has Croctail Island. Also toned down, for a "lazier" effect. Some of the scenery was burned down in a fire, but replaced soon after.
Bait-n-Bump/Havoc Harbor (original) Duce Bumper Cars These bumper cars were the classic style, one/two rider type. Had an island-themed backdrop with a concrete center island. unknown-2001 The cars were destroyed in a fire, and replaced with gentler cars under the same name. Originally named "Bait-n-Bump", name changed to "Havoc Harbor" around 1994.
Havoc Harbor (replacement) Bumper Cars These bumper cars were the one-rider, tank type. Two hand controlled sticks were used to operate the car that had an inner tube-like bumper. Cars were in all different colors. Power was distributed through the floor, rather than the ceiling. 2002–present These cars were the replacement to the cars that were destroyed in the fire. They now occupy Rides At Adventure Cove as "Condor Craze."
Shark Attack Water Slide This red slide held up to three people and let sliders go up onto the side of the slides through centripetal force while turning. 1997–2006 Occupied former home of "Buccaneer Bay. The Shark Attack ride was moved to Sams Surf City in Pensacola Florida. The ride is still called Shark Attack and is due to be open in summer 2011"
Zuma Falls Water Slide Two gentle generic white water slides. Riders rode tubes down this open slide. 1994–2006 Started from same tower as the "Jet Stream." Auctioned off to "the Beach" when Wyandot Lake closed.
Jet Stream Water Slide Two fast black covered water slides, with small holes of light throughout. unknown-2006 Started from same tower as the "Zuma Falls." Auctioned off to "the Beach" when Wyandot Lake closed.
Splash Slides Body Slides Three body slides (one straight down, one curvy, and one completely covered) The two open slides were light blue, while the covered slide was a greenish color. These slides could be seen well from the parking lot. unknown-2006 Name changed frequently with different sponsors, such as "Ice Mountain Splash" and "Sunkist Splash". The covered slide, named "The Phantom", was hardly ever open and eventually was permanently closed around 2003.

Theme Song

The Zoombezi Bay theme song "Zoombezi Bay" was written and produced by freelance musician Kelly Warner from Columbus, Ohio. Vocals were performed by Nachilus Kezuck and Brian O'Dell.

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