Silverwood season - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Silverwood season

Again it's big rides, big business

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Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 12:32 am, Fri May 3, 2013.

It all starts again on Saturday, as Silverwood Theme Park opens its doors to the public.

Silverwood was Idaho's most visited attraction last year with 659,000 guests. Nearly two-thirds of those visitors traveled to North Idaho specifically to visit the park.

"We expect attendance to be up at least 5 percent this year," said Nancy DiGiammarco, a spokeswoman for the park.

The Idaho Department of Commerce estimated the park produced an economic impact of $79.5 million in 2012. That includes visitors to the state booking hotels and camp sites, eating at local restaurants, patronizing other recreational facilities, buying fuel, renting equipment, shopping for food and drinks to fill coolers, and buying clothing and other souvenirs to fill suitcases.

At its peak, Silverwood and Boulder Beach will employ 85 people year-round and more than 1,400 seasonally. Its 2012 payroll was $8.5 million, DiGiammarco said.

In 1987, when the Henley Aerodrome & Museum of Transportation was still under construction, Gary Norton wondered whether anyone would actually pay money to visit his creation, located in a remote area of North Idaho.

"If nobody shows, then I'm just going to have a nice little park to play in with my friends," said Norton, Silverwood's owner and creator.

Now after 26 years of operation, nine million people have passed through the gates of his theme park, wisely renamed Silverwood before it opened in 1988.

It is the largest theme and water park in the Northwest with 221 acres and more than 65 rides, slides, shows and attractions in the park. It has four roller coasters and a drop tower.

Boulder Beach Water Park, with its wave pools and water slides, opens June 1.

Though weekends are open starting Saturday, daily operation doesn't begin until May 25. For the opening weekend, Saturday and Sunday, tickets are $19.88 per person in celebration of Silverwood's first season in "1988." Regular admission price is $43.99.

Tickets are available online at silverwoodthemepark.com and at Silverwood's front gate.

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