WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans have to travel out-of-state to experience a sprawling indoor waterpark, but a developer wants to bring a Wisconsin Dells-style attraction to West Des Moines.
Developer Jim Bergman is planning The Grand Experience, a $600 million district on Grand Avenue west of Interstate 35 anchored by a 100,000-square-foot waterpark and hotel.
“It will be a very good, comparable to the waterparks that are up in the Wisconsin Dells,” Bergman said. “Our hope is that people think about coming to Des Moines as opposed to finding that experience in Minneapolis, Kansas City, or the Dells. It will be a closer equivalent to the waterparks that are a long distance away.”
Bergman is planning the district to function in tandem with the MidAmerican RecPlex, a sports facility opened right across Grand Avenue last year that is already popular with parents.
“I’m here a lot,” said Waukee parent Dan Frye about the RecPlex. “My kids play hockey, so I’m here three to four times a week.”
Bergman hopes to build up the 226 acres surrounding the RecPlex so families and teams can have a fun time without having to leave Grand Avenue.
“There’s no doubt that people will decide to have events at the RecPlex because the waterpark is going to be across the street, and vice versa,” Bergman said.
Frye said his family is likely to check out the waterpark when it’s finished.
“I think it will be awesome,’ Frye said. “My kids would probably use the waterpark, I could see that depending on when they get it built. It will be pretty neat.”
Bergman is planning to break ground on The Grand Experience next year with a projected opening day in 2025.
“I think it will look like its name,” Bergman said. You’re going to want to get off the interstate, and when you move west, you’ll enter our grand experience.”