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story.lead_photo.caption Magic Springs Theme and Water Park general manager Jack Bateman, from left, Tracy Durham, Alfred Warren, Kristen Nicholson, Meaghan Ferneau and Mary Claire Hill react after riding the new ride Brain Drain at Magic Springs in Hot Springs. The park is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its opening with the park’s first new thrill ride in 10 years. ( William Harvey)

Magic Springs Theme and Water Park is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the park’s opening with a brand-new, 13-story attraction called the Brain Drain.

“Having the Brain Drain as our first new addition in over 10 years is just huge for Magic Springs,” said Michael Wampler, director of sales and marketing. “This ride, being a vertical-footprint ride, gives us a lot more latitude to do things, and I think our guests are just going to absolutely love it.”

The park reopened for the season Saturday. In a press release from the park, general manager Jack Bateman said, “There is no better time to experience Magic Springs than this season.”

“Come out and help us celebrate 40 years of family fun at Magic Springs.”

The newly added Brain Drain is over 140 feet tall and can hold up to 12 guests. The ride makes a steady climb toward the top, giving guests a spectacular view of the park and surrounding landscapes. As the ride inches upward, guests anxiously await for the drop, but it is not until the ride makes a click, when it drops to a speed of 47 mph. For a firsthand look at the ride, visit the Tri-Lakes Edition Facebook page.

“It is an amazing ride,” Wampler said. “As you are going up, you get to see a beautiful landscape setting, seeing over the national forest and almost to downtown.

“Then suddenly, you are rushing to the ground at 50 mph.”

Magic Springs opened on July 22, 1978, and later added the water park in 2000. According to a Magic Springs history website, the park closed in 1995 and reopened in 2000, along with the addition of the water park. Magic Springs has 20 rides and nine water-park attractions and pools. The park will celebrate its birthday July 22.

“I got to imagine there are lots of families who have had some magical memories while coming to Magic Springs,” Wampler said. “I have actually been on staff now for just over a year, and I am just thrilled to be here.”

The park is open weekends in April and May and daily from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-August.

“We think [our longevity] talks to the fact that we are Arkansas’ only theme and water park, and there is so much to do with a paid admission,” Wampler said.

This year, Magic Springs has 18 artists performing for its summer concert series.

“There is something for everyone,” Wampler said. “We are even doing an ’80s hairband festival on June 9. There is just a little bit of everything in our concerts for people.”

Acts include En Vogue, Kansas, Granger Smith, Queensryche, Martina McBride and David Crowder.

In addition to the concert series, Magic Springs will host four Dive-In Movie nights in July at the Wave Pool, featuring the following films:

July 6: Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

July 13: Smurfs: The Lost Village.

July 20: Justice League.

July 27: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.

Magic Screams will return beginning Oct. 6, now with longer hours — lasting from noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.

The Summer Concert Series, Dive-In Movies and Cooler Sundays are free with purchase of a ticket or season pass. Season passes are on sale for $64.99, plus tax.

“It is surprising where our guests come from,” Wampler said. “We’ve got visitors coming from Memphis, Shreveport, from northwest Arkansas and even Oklahoma.

“[Our concert series] is a full-day event, but the great thing is, [the concerts] are free with a paid admission. You definitely get your money’s worth.”

For more information, visit www.MagicSprings.com.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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