Anna Malcom, who grew up in Maple River and returned there about 15 years ago, took her family on their annual Adventureland outing last Thursday. She and her husband, Nathan, and two of their three children, 16-year-old Eric and 12-year-old Caitlin (sic), always enjoyed this tradition. However, this year, the family was split up in the park during the tornadoes that swept through the area and struck right next door in Bondurant.
Malcom says that another patron asked a gentleman who appeared to be one of the head lifeguards what was happening. He told her that they were having a water break. Malcom then stopped him herself to ask what was going on, to which he replied, nothing, we just need everyone out of the pool. The pair headed to the changing rooms and heard others talking about two tornadoes spotted a couple of miles from Adventureland.
Malcom was quite disturbed by seeing this, and even more so as they headed out of the water park and noticed that there were no employees to be found in the theme park either.
As they made their way through the park, other people were asking where all the employees had gone as they waited in line for abandoned rides. Malcom looked onto the website afterward and saw that there were numerous questions and comments that had been posted about why the park employees did not take control and guide their customers to the designated tornado shelter areas. Malcom says she couldn’t believe how close they had been to disaster at that time. And in the wake of this incident, Malcom says their continued actions in trying to make this issue go away are even more disconcerting to her.
Daniel Ginger, Acting Director of Adventure Bay, says that the weather system came upon them so quickly that they were unaware of the threat of tornadoes. He was watching for lightning to protect the water park visitors, but the sirens right next to the park did not get activated. Once they heard of the storm, they were forced to try to yell at the patrons to take cover as there is no public address system for live announcements. That, however, became the subject of special meetings right after the incident.
There are three rest areas that are weather shelters in the water park and the Palace Theater is the shelter in the theme park. Ginger says they are also looking at ways to implement a texting service for patrons to be able to receive messages during their day at Adventureland. He adds that they are taking this issue very seriously and they have been reaching out to every person who has voiced a concern either in person or on their website.
Anyone who was there that day is encouraged to submit their questions or concerns to the Adventureland directors and can do so through the link included below.