Snow tubing could be joining zip lining in rural Pasco County.
Point Summit Inc., the company behind TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park and the seasonal Scream-A-Geddon Halloween attraction, wants to bring Florida's first snow park to a site west of Dade City.
The company is under contract to buy 58 acres east of Bellamy Brothers Boulevard and just west of its current TreeHoppers location on St. Joe Road. It envisions turning the agricultural land into a still-to-be-named snow park with a 300-foot snow tubing run and a separate area to play and build snow sculptures.
"It's real snow. It's man-made and it's eco-friendly,'' said Benjamin Nagengast, CEO of Point Summit.
Florida's climate is not considered problematic. A similar attraction, Snow Mountain, opened 10 years ago near Atlanta at Stone Mountain, Ga. Another warm weather location, Dell'Osso Family Farms in Stockton, Calif., offers seasonal snow tube rides for just a three-week period in December and January.
Nagengast said the Florida snow park more likely would follow the Dell'Osso model, operating a weather-dependent schedule of six to 12 weeks each year. The company is targeting a fall 2019 opening, and still requires a Pasco County permit to operate. A community meeting with nearby residents is planned for 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at TreeHoppers. The permit request, to operate an amusement park in an agricultural district, is scheduled to be heard by Pasco's planning and county commissions in early 2019.
"It really differentiates us," said Adam Thomas, Pasco's tourism director, "There's not another snow park in Florida. It's really going to draw a lot of attention to Pasco in a good way.''
Nagengast's attorney, Clark Hobby, said the county's land-use designation of an amusement park "doesn't do justice to what this really is.'' Nagengast said the park would operate on approximately 5 acres of the 58-acre site and the company plans to purchase and plant up to 1,000 trees for buffering and to promote an agri-tourism atmosphere.
"It's similar to what we've done with TreeHoppers, using the beauty and natural resources of Pasco County, getting away from concrete jungle, and letting people experience the space and nature,'' he said.
Plans call for digging a lake on the site for drainage and using the excavated dirt to build a 40-foot tall hill for the snow tubing lanes. The width of the run hasn't been determined. Attendance will be limited to a few hundred people at a time via advance-purchase tickets with designated times to use the course, Nagengast said. He said the attraction probably would employ 50 people on a seasonal basis.
Though tourism officials are excited about the facility, Nagengast said the primary market will be area residents.
"We've always made sure the local community is our number one client,'' he said. "If the locals don't like it, it doesn't matter what goes on with the tourist market.''
Point Summit opened TreeHoppers in 2015 and Scream-A-Geddon later the same year. The company operates similar zip line and seasonal haunted house attractions in Anderson, Indiana.
Contact C.T. Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.