Williamson County

Kalahari Resorts breaks ground on sprawling Round Rock waterpark

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) - Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Center broke ground Tuesday on its newest location with more than 250 supporters in attendance.

The resort, being built off of US 79 near Kenney Ford Boulevard in Round Rock, will cover 1.5 million square feet and cost $550 million.

It's expected to provide nearly 2,000 jobs for the area.

"It really has exceeded our expectations," said Mike Odom, president and CEO of the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Among the many specs of the project, it includes nearly 1,000 guest rooms, America's largest indoor waterpark, Tom Foolery's Adventure Park, a spa and multiple restaurants and retail options.

Todd Nelson, the owner of the resort, shared at the groundbreaking that visitors who want to enjoy the park do not have to stay at the actual resort.

Keith Pietrzak, a resident who lives near the future resort, says he's excited about the addition, but he and others in the neighborhood worry about the impact on traffic.

"It's off one of the major roads that comes through, so I think that they'll get a lot of visibility to it. It's just that that's the only road in and out, so for the locals here it's going to be kind of burdensome to get in and out of our own communities during those times," Pietrzak said.

When KXAN spoke with Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan, he shared that the location shouldn't affect traffic in peak hours.

Morgan says, "The traffic at this convention space, you know, it won't be your normal five to eight in the morning or five to eight at night when you have rush hour. Visitors come in at all different times of the day."

Other Kalahari locations

Kalahari already has three other locations in Sandusky, Ohio, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and Poconos, Pennsylvania. 

Wisconsin Dells is known as the waterpark capital of the world. Kalahari opened there in 2000.

"We're a unique community where we have less than 6,000 people," said Rhonda Parchem with Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau.

She told us resorts in Wisconsin Dells generated more than a billion dollars in visitors' spending last year. Parchem said that's 10 percent of Wisconsin's total tourism spending.

Mike Odom said the chamber was told expanding to a bigger metropolitan area is Kalahari's new strategy. 

"You get the metroplex," said Odom. "You get parts of Oklahoma. You get parts of Houston, San Antonio. You get parts of Louisiana. You really have a strong population mix from which to pull from."

Odom said Round Rock sent teams to Kalahari's existing resorts to check out the company's operation. He said they were happy with what they saw and they're excited about Kalahari's expansion strategy.

Construction on the resort begins on Wednesday. The owner says the park will open on Nov. 1, 2020.


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