The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday March 20th

New theme park, 'Whirligig Woods,' being developed near Chapel Hill

The park, Whirligig Woods, will be located in Saxapahaw, about 17 miles from Chapel Hill. According to Baranick’s website, Whirligig Woods is a family amusement park and treehouse resort.

Baranick said in an email that the goal is to create a world where parents and children can have fun and make memories as a family.

“We expect to be the primary location for birthday parties, group picnics and other organizations to come have fun in the woods,” Baranick said. “We will also be strong on education elements and charity services. My primary hope is that the park will inspire a new generation to dream and build.”

He said the reason for picking this location for the park is because the property is an equal distance between the Triad and the Triangle.

“Saxapahaw itself is already a booming destination. It is a very rural and environmentally friendly community and a perfect match for the park,” he said. “Whirligig Woods will be a small, charming ‘garden’ attraction populated with low-key rides that will create an immersive environment that honors the trees and natural land.”

Carol Wood, the park’s art director, said the park’s development will be environmentally friendly.

“If the architecture needs to change to honor the land, that’s what happens,” she said. “The land dictates it.”

Some of the attractions, especially the kinetic ones, will capture and be driven by solar energy, Wood said.

Baranick has 40 years of experience with themed entertainment design, she said.

“This all originated with Bob,” Wood said. “I’m there to help him realize his vision.”

Whirligig Woods is not like any other projects he has been a part of, Baranick said.

“I have been very lucky to work on many grand scale, cutting edge, mega thrill attractions around the world,” he said. “(Whirligig Woods) will be an intimate, charming and whimsical attraction geared for families – very unique and very special.”

The name Whirligig Woods comes from one of Baranick’s personal heroes, Vollis Simpson. Simpson, who died in 2013, was a North Carolina artist who created “whirligig” sculptures from scrap metal and discarded objects.

“(Vollis) put whirligigs on the map, making them North Carolina’s official folk art,” Baranick said. “Because whirligigs are whimsical and kinetic, they lend themselves well for the styling of the park architecture and attractions.”

Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Alamance, said in an emailed statement he is excited about the new park.

“The theme park will be a great addition to the beauty of the surrounding Haw River area,” he said. “I look forward to its development in the coming years.”

Miranda Cecil, a first-year student at UNC, said she thinks the park will be good for the community and younger children — particularly those without big backyards.

“It sounds like a really good family environment and nice that you can be outside doing activities in a controlled area,” Cecil said.

Wood said the park will be small but unique.

“It’s a jewel,” she said.


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