GREEN BAY - Bay Beach's newest attraction made its maiden voyage Friday.
The 75 cent Sea Dragon ride opened to the public.
This new ride is the first joint venture between the city and the newly formed Friends of Bay Beach.
The organization was formed to independently manage the fundraising for the park's master plan.
"We christen the Sea Dragon!" declared Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt as he dedicated Bay Beach's newest ride.
People lined up for a chance to experience the park's latest addition.
The pendulum-like Sea Dragon wowed riders, who expressed their delight.
"I like a lot of tickly rides, and stuff and like it's really nice and tickly when you go up and then you come back down," said Caleb Andrews of Greenville.
"I thought it was going to be really fun and it was," said Andrews' sister, Caitlin.
The Sea Dragon was purchased this last spring for more than $670,000. It is located just to the southwest of the Zippin Pippin roller coaster. It's not expected to beat Elvis' favorite ride, but rather enhance the park experience for visitors.
"This is one of many things to come," said Schmitt.
The Bay Beach master plan consists of three phases.
"The first phase is a 10 year program. This ride is part of phase one of that program. It means what we're going to do is enhance the west end of the park, add three to four more additional rides, some amenities and some more shelters to the area," said Dawne Cramer, director of the city's parks department.
Cramer says the next project is already in the works. It involves moving the train tracks and building a large corporate shelter.
"The train will now come through the west end. It will actually go underneath the Zippin Pippin, come out to this area. We hope to break ground on the Great Lawn shelter in May."
The Friends of Bay Beach intend to collect more than $5 million in donations to help pay for half of the improvements. The other half will come from park revenue.
"In the last three days we've gotten three $25,000 checks, just out of nowhere, saying, 'Thank you, this is such a cool project keep going,' so I think we're going to be very successful," said Dave Charles, president of Friends of Bay Beach.
"Now that we have this group of friends who've come together that will match $5 million of our $5 million, you can see that plan come together, six, seven years," Schmitt said.
City officials say the improvements are expected to increase the annual number of visitors and raise park revenue from $2.5 million to $4 million in 10 years.
The mayor said the city is in talks to acquire more rides for the park, but would not elaborate on what kinds of rides.
After this weekend, Bay Beach will be open weekends through September.
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