Friday, May 22, 2009

SnowMasters Buys Park, Plans Upgrades

Matt McKean/TimesDaily
Frankie Guerra blows debris from one of the putt-putt holes at Funland Park. Francisco Guerra, Frankie’s father, has purchased the park and is giving it a makeover to use as a test site for his SnowMasters products, such as Flogos, artificial snow and fog.
Sunday, May 17, 2009

FLORENCE - Imagine skidding down a water slide with snow falling around you.

Or lasers and explosions interrupting your focus on a miniature golf course.

Those are among visions officials with the Lexington-based SnowMasters have for Funland park in Florence.

SnowMasters has purchased Funland, on Alabama 20 near the Florence Harbor, and will incorporate artificial snow, foam, Flogos and other products into a revamped version of the park.

Company officials said they hope to open in early June.

SnowMasters owner Francisco Guerra said Funland will be a testing ground for products and ideas SnowMasters could bring to large theme parks such as

Disney attractions.

"What we're looking to do is put in all our effects into this park," Guerra said. "We're going to make it a lot of fun."

He said Funland will be a family park, but he plans to dedicate Saturday nights to teenagers.

"It's a focus on children and our ability to wow them," Guerra said.

He said his son, Frankie Guerra, a Lexington High School junior, proposed the idea for teen nights on Saturdays. Frankie Guerra will be a manager at the park, which will be run by operations director Max Scott.

"There's nothing for teenagers to do around here, so this will be something for them," Francisco Guerra said.

The park will close at 6 p.m. Saturdays and reopen to teens. Frankie Guerra is a DJ and plans to provide music. He hopes eventually to bring in live bands.

SnowMaster products such as artificial snow, fog and Flogos, which are small clouds made in various shapes, will be common sights at the park. The products are used internationally at various locations, including Disney theme parks.

Funland is a longtime Shoals landmark. The top of its water slides are visible from O'Neal Bridge.

Frankie Guerra said it should be quite a scene when SnowMaster products are added.

"There's no way you'll be able to pass this bridge without seeing us," he said. "People have been ready for this. The park has the potential, especially with the reputation of SnowMasters, of really being something."

SnowMasters has been working on the park for a couple of weeks.

"People have been stopping off, asking what's happening," Scott said. "They get excited when I tell them what we're doing."

He said everything is being upgraded, including arcades, the party room, mini-golf course and go-carts. Scott looks forward to incorporating SnowMasters features such as foam pits.

"I'm real excited about the foam," he said. "I've been wanting to do something with that for a long time."

SnowMasters also will bring some of its inflatables to the park. Those range from trampolines to obstacle courses.

Frankie Guerra plans to bring lasers, shooting water and harmless explosions to the mini-golf course.

"It will be big theme-park attractions in a small park," he said. "We want to make it fun."

Fransisco Guerra said major theme parks and attractions use SnowMasters products, and Funland will provide a means for his business to try out new products and different uses for current ones.

He said the goal isn't necessarily to make a profit but to have something for the local community and test ideas for larger parks.

Francisco Guerra plans to put about $1.5 million into the park, including at least $1 million in equipment. That includes the company's most recent product, which produces scents.

"It'll be snowing when you go down the water slide," he said. "We just took over the property and are ready to do a lot of upgrading. This will be fun for toddlers to 65-year-olds and up.

"Just imagine playing golf, and all of a sudden, it starts snowing, or a layer of fog comes in. Or you smell pizza and decide it's time to eat. Or a golf ball goes in a ceramic monkey's butt and you smell flatulence. We want the kids to laugh and be freaked out."

He said a human slingshot is among new elements at the park.

"You put a person in a ball and shoot them," Francisco Guerra said. "They come unattached and land in a big glove."

He said he plans for costs at the park to be in line with what traditionally was charged at Funland.

Bernie Delinski can be reached at 740-5739 or

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