Nags Head amusement park receives OK for more rides

By on December 2, 2013

fullthrottleWith one successful season under his belt, the owner of Full Throttle Speedway in Nags Head plans to expand his makeshift amusement park to include more rides when it reopens next summer.

Having won approval by town commissioners, Darnell Tillett can increase the number of rides that exceed 35 feet from one to three.

The site’s Ferris wheel required an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance last year, but the exception to the height limit was limited to one ride. Other smaller rides were added.

Tillett said he will shop during the off-season for more amusements to draw older children.

“We have the younger kids covered,” Tillett said. “We need to attract the young teenagers now.”

The park at milepost 15.5 debuted this summer.

It’s the first amusement park to open since Dowdy’s closed in 2005. Tillett’s grandfather, Joe Dowdy, opened Dowdy’s in the early 1960s. Tillett operated his grandfather’s park from 1998 until it closed. The town recently bought the land across U.S. 158 from the Outer Banks Family YMCA.

Nearly a decade later, Tillett operates his new park at his Full Throttle Speedway. The property falls within the town’s commercial-outdoor recreational uses overlay district.

Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the amusement park features a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, a spinning Monkey Mahem ride, a helicopter ride and a kiddie go-kart speedway. There are also four amusement games and a train designed for small children.

“We will have at least one, maybe two more rides,” Tillett said. “This ordinance gives us greater flexibility in trying to get the middle-school age group.”

Tillett, who also owns nearby Mutiny Bay Adventure Golf, said he was pleased with the amusement park’s success during the 2013 season.

“We were able to accommodate the crowds well,” he said, adding that there were no parking difficulties and the park enjoyed a good mix of tourists and local residents.

The site includes about 80 parking spaces.

The overlay district stretches along the bypass from Forbes Street near the old Windmill Point site south across the causeway. The district includes roughly 40 properties.

Most recently within the district, a Nags Head resident submitted plans to the town to build an outdoor adventure park with rope courses and zip lines that would rise up to 50 feet in the air. The park, called First Flight Adventure Park, would be built on 2 acres west of the Dairy Queen at milepost 16.

Applicant Bradley Carey said he hopes to have the aerial park up and running by the 2014 season.

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