116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WATERLOO — The recently opened Lost Island Themepark in Waterloo is off to a slow start, with its owner saying he’s hoping the numbers improve quickly.
The $100 million theme park, which is south of the Lost Island Waterpark, opened June 18.
The water park is seeing about 1,500 to 2,500 visitors per day, while the theme park is seeing about 100 to 300 customers per day, said Eric Bertch, the water and theme parks’ owner and general manager.
“The water park is doing very well, and we were kind of expecting them to play off of each other and that doesn't seem to be happening with the attendance we're seeing here,” he said.
The new theme park attracted 415 guests on the Fourth of July weekend, leading Bertch to say he is “hoping to reach 10 times those numbers in order to survive.”
The 159-acre park includes five “lands,” each with a theme, that guests can explore.
Bertch and team took inspiration from Disney World and Universal Studios, which have themed areas based on movies and fictional characters. The Lost Island Themepark relies on immersive storytelling that ties the five lands together.
The new park has had a few bumps, including finishing two of its 22 attractions, Bertch said.
“We’re working as quickly as we can to get up and running, but the majority of the park is available,” he said. “The theme park is 2 1/2 times the size, so we should easily be seeing 2,500 to 3,000 guests without any trouble. The water park is packed, so we assumed that some of the traffic would translate over here, and it’s not.”
One of the new park’s roller coasters, Matugani, isn’t ready due to supply chain delays for a brake motor part. A carousel also needs to be completed, Bertch said.
“Our carousel is still being worked on by a company in California who has very little sense of urgency,” he said. “It was a soft opening on purpose because there were challenges.”
He said the park is expected to finish both rides later this summer.
Bertch said the park’s restaurants, gift shops and interactive play areas are open.
Roller coaster wait
Kristi Lynn, who lives in Atlantic in southwest Iowa, visited the park last week with her niece and posted about her experience on the Lost Island Fans (Iowa) Facebook group, which has more than 1,600 members.
She said she thinks people are waiting to visit the theme park until the Matugani roller coaster is finished.
Because of that, she said, “the lines were super short” during her visit. “I imagine that once the last roller coaster opens, and everybody decides to go, it could get very long lines.”
Lynn’s niece, Kira Malley, 10, said she went on the 4D interactive adventure ride, Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol, six times.
“I probably would recommend it to my friends because they like the thrilling rides and stuff,” she said.
The park is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. after originally planning to stay open until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, mainly because of staffing issues.
“We are starting to see quite a few applicants,” Bertch said. “Now, the challenge is, since we opened, it's really hard to include them in the schedule.”
Lost Island is offering a $69 “park hopper” deal that allows visitors to visit each park on two consecutive days, he said.
“We are open and excited to welcome guests to explore the five realms and anyone that's looking for a unique, immersive experience, that they don't need to buy a plane ticket or get a passport or take out a second mortgage,” he said.
The new park is projected to have a $32 million a year economic impact, Tavis Hall, executive director for Experience Waterloo, told The Gazette last year.
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What: Lost Island Themepark
Where: 2600 E. Shaulis Road, Waterloo
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $45 to $49 theme park advance tickets; $32 to $36 water park advance tickets; $69 two-day “park hopper” for both parks
Contact: (319) 455-6700; https://www.thelostisland.com