Special Report: The Island Splash - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Special Report: The Island Splash

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

Seven months. If all goes as planned, that's how long it will be until the new Schlitterbahn Beach County Water Park and Resort on Padre Island is up and running.

If you have been watching the construction process, you know that things are now at the point of dramatic change.

"We're really seeing some big changes now," said Jeff Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn. "Really seeing this start coming out of the ground."

From the beginning, there were plenty of people who were convinced the project was never going to happen; but now, 65 acres of what used to be the Padre Isles Country Club have been transformed.

"We're running four-inch fire protection to the buildings that are going to be sprinkled, and we're running two-inch fill lines that we'll use to fill the rivers and fill the rides," Henry said.

Jeff Henry is the creative genius behind all Schlitterbahn parks, and to say that he's a free spirit doesn't fully describe his reputation for thinking outside the box. He actually owns more than 60 patents for thrill rides that he has built all around the world.

"He's always creating. He's got a vision, and he tries to make the architects understand what his vision is," said Sonia Gill, Henry's assistant.

"This is fun. This is like artwork. It's enjoyable," Henry said. "I do get tired of corporate -- that would be my brother and my sister, and all the people in New Braunfels who are trying to get me to comply with the rules and regulations of society, which I prefer not to."

"He's a wild and crazy guy, but he gets the job done," Schlitterbahn Senior Designer John Schooley said. "He's creative, and he really makes things happen."

"These are treehouses that we've added," Henry said. "Here, we're doing something very unique."

Henry was talking about the company's unique upscale lodging for guests who want to extend their stay. The treehouses, as they're called, are being constructed using wood left behind from the devastating fire in Bastrop, Texas, back in 2011. Ultimately, there will be a couple of hundred tree houses on the site.

Like the Schlitterbahn parks on South Padre Island and Galveston, the one in North Padre Island can stay open year round, but "this one is going to blow those other two away," Henry said.

As of right now, construction workers -- about 150 of them on any given day -- are finishing up the in-ground infrastructure, working on foundations for the various slides and rivers, and adding a second floor to what will be a completely refurbished clubhouse.

As for the actual water slides and attractions, many are being built right now in the company's fabrication plant in New Braunfels. Colorful butterflies and mushrooms, an elaborate locomotive, and a cool pirate ship -- the C.C. Christi -- all of it will be headed to Padre Island soon.

Also on the way are devices called Archimedes Screws. They work on a 2000-year old principle named after the Greek inventor who first used them. They will help propel the massive amount of water in the park's moving rivers.

In New Braunfels, experts from around the country are collaborating online. They can actually stay in constant communication with project managers on the ground in Corpus Christi.

John Schooley, the company's senior designer, is particularly proud of the park's signature attraction. They call it "Shoot the Chute," a unique adaptation of a classic waterpark ride that takes riders up a steep incline and then drops them into a large pool.

Local businessman Stan Hulse is the park's general manager. He said he can't wait until people can start splashing around in it. That's still set to happen in June of next year.

Eventually, as 3News has reported, the $41 million water park will be the central component of a $550 million resort community on the Island. It will have more restaurants, shops and hotels. Plans also call for a riverwalk and new residential areas.

According to our sources, a major announcement about that is coming soon, and 3News promises to keep you posted.

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