The latest whitewater thrill?

A theme park is coming to the New River Gorge!

In the near future, rides will replace traditional whitewater rafting on the New River. It’s a proposal that should promote tourism and the wild outdoors, all at once.

A historic game changer

West Virginia’s popularity as an adventure destination has never been better. And the New River Gorge water park will be newest gem in tourism’s crown.

Though concrete details are still forthcoming, it is understood that an amusement park developer will have rights to whitewater from Hinton to Thurmond.

“It’s definitely controversial,” reported a source who attended a secret meeting last week. “Lots of hot air. But this will be the biggest, wildest thing to hit Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.”

A conference member also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Several folks freaked out when we mentioned installing rides and stuff in the river,” he said. “I thought, ‘Man, there’s no way we’re gonna make it back home.’ Fortunately, we managed to see both sides of the issue and come to an understanding.”

A concept photo shows some of the changes coming to the New River, featuring the region’s mascot New River George.

Taming the rapids

Given the last-minute nature of this development, it’s hard to determine the scope of this project.

Here is what we’ve learned so far.:

  • Underwater monorail system: Rafts, affixed to a rail, will take tourists from the Upper to the Lower New. Everybody can therefore experience the river’s Class V rapids.
  • Vendors: Several select merchants and food truck owners will be allowed to serve tourists as they wait to board the rafts.
  • New River George: The New River Gorge’s mascot will become the MC of the park, “much like Mickey Mouse’s role at Disneyland,” according to a local visitors bureau.
  • Safety: The mechanical rafts will come with seatbelts. Several boulders will also have submerged “bumpers.”

Portions of the New River will remain free from development. As of now, hikers and nature lovers will be free to explore regions above Hinton.

Thumbs up, thumbs down

News about the water park has yet to be fully released. Only insiders have given us a few hints. But when we talked to folks about river rides, their reactions ranged the emotional spectrum.

Some were stunned. Others— especially out-of-state visitors— expressed surprise; they believed whitewater rafts were already on a rail.

Nichole Knudsen, a teenager from Ohio, approved. “Whitewater rides? That sounds amazing.”

What’s your reaction?

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