PHOTOS: First look at Big Banana’s $50m expansion plans
THE first project in The Big Banana's massive $50-million expansion - a new water raft ride - is expected to be completed as soon as October.
That's according to General Manager Michael Lockman, who has revealed further details on the major plans that will see several new attractions built at the popular tourist destination by 2040.
Eco-cabins, a new brewery and restaurant, and a coaster ride are among the developments in that will be completed in the short-term - but Mr Lockman told the Advocate that the first to be tackled this year is the water park expansion.
This will include two new duelling rafts off a 16.5m platform, fitted with sensors and a scoreboard so park visitors can race each other.
There will also be a new wading pool to provide a greater offering for the littler kids under 1.2m tall.
"Construction will likely start in May - we've been in talks with suppliers and have been getting proposals," Mr Lockman said.
"We're expecting it to be complete in October."
While the supplier has not yet been confirmed, local supplier Swimplex Aquatics has proposed the water park designs featured.
It is part of the fun park's new 20-year masterplan, created with the help of consulting firm Urbis.
"It's quite a fluid masterplan and there will be changes over time, but it's a good starting point and it is very close to what we expect the park will look like in 20 years," he said.
To help fund the expansion, the owner of the Big Banana - Village Building Co - is considering selling shares.
These would not be floated on the market, but would be sold to 'sophisticated investors' that have a high net worth and extensive financial experience.
With 15ha of land currently sitting undeveloped, here's the lowdown of what other attractions are coming to the Big Banana and when.
The fun park does not currently offer accommodation on site but we can expect to see construction begin soon on 50 nature-based cabins, subject to DA approval.
It is expected they will be finished by 2023.
Mr Lockman said a multistorey resort is also on the cards, but that will be towards the "tail end" of the development plans.
"We get a lot of people calling in and asking if they can book a room for a night," he said.
"There's not a long of fun parks in Australia where you can actually stay on site."
The cabins and resort are earmarked to be built on the hill at the property, so will benefit from ocean views.
"It's a two-person coaster, not quite as crazy as a rollercoaster," Mr Lockman clarified when describing the plans for a new ride dubbed the Plantation Coaster.
It will feature a two-person carriage which sits on coaster rails, with seatbelts clamped under the tracks to allow for a faster speed over a longer period of time.
Mr Lockman said the idea for the coaster came about from the popularity of the fun park's toboggans - which often sees waiting times of up to an hour.
"The Plantation Coaster is similar but the benefit is that you can maintain a much higher speed.
"As we grow we need to rectify that issue of long wait times for the toboggans. The coaster will be a smoother and more exhilarating experience - a different offering."
The coaster, which will be completed as soon as 2023, will extend to the highest point of the Big Banana property, also offering stunning ocean views.
Restaurant and Brewery
The Big Banana will also expand its retail and hospitality offerings, with plans to have its very own beverages brewed on site.
An existing building which has sat at the site for some time will be renovated and transformed into a "contemporary and airy" new restaurant and brewery.
Mr Lockman said these plans are also expected to be completed before 2023.