Local News

Theme park designer finalizes plans for NC's 'Whirligig Woods'

Posted March 3
Updated March 7

— Theme park designer and Raleigh resident Bob Baranick, who has worked on projects around the world such as every Disney park in the world and Busch Gardens, is turning his dream for a North Carolina theme park into a reality.

Whirligig Woods, a 21-acre theme park in Saxapahaw would include thrilling rides, a haunted land, a tree house resort, and more of Baranick's imaginative ideas.

​Baranick plans to break ground in 2018 with the first phase of Whirligig Woods would open in 2019. He also has plans for a second and third park to follow in North Carolina.

Saxapahaw is located Alamance County on the Haw River less than 20 miles west of Chapel Hill.

Baranick, who has 45 years of experience in theme park design, said he is especially passionate about this project and has no doubts in the project's outcome.

"We have a seasoned team behind this,” he said.

He and his team have already purchased land for Whirligig Woods

“It’s more than just throwing money around. It has a soul. It has a meaning, and it’s very important for the future of North Carolina.”

Baranick’s wife, Carol Wood, is the art director for the project. Her background is in art and production design for film.

“I’ve watched Bob design parks, and I’ve seen them built,” Wood said. “So this is only a matter of time.”

“We have designers from Hollywood that are working on it," Baranick said. "What I really want to do is inspire the next generation to use their imagination and to dream.”


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  • Michael Thompson Mar 4, 2017
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    Hollywood and Disney's finest have teamed up to bring you a theme park based on an outdated style of yard art. They must all be exhausted from the brainstorming session that birthed that. Really letting the creativity flow. But, what? No love for the mirror ball, bird bath, weather vane, windmill, El Camino on blocks, wind sock, tulips in a toilet, lawn jockey, pink flamingo or garden gnome. Maybe they're saving all that for future expansion. I'm going to go ahead and buy every website combo possible under the "yard art" umbrella. I could profit tens of dollars some day.

  • Jim Dunn Mar 4, 2017
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    “We have designers from Hollywood that are working on it,"

    Nothing encouraging with that statement. Let's hope they don't build another blistering concrete jungle like Carowinds or kings dominion.

    Personally, I prefer they stay away from the rivers. The Haw is already stressed from the poor waste water treatment facalities of Greensboro and Burlington.

  • Doug Bogard Mar 4, 2017
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    I misread.
    I don't think you have been to Saxapahaw.

  • Andrew Stephenson Mar 4, 2017
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    Disney has nothing to do with this. I don't think you read the article.

  • Mary O'Shields Mar 4, 2017
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    I welcome an amusement park to the central part of the state. It will bring many other businesses and improve the economy. Plus, people will not have to drive to Florida to take their children to a park. I wish he would go to Transylvania County and put in a park based on Count Dracula. I think it would be a hit.

  • Doug Bogard Mar 4, 2017
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    Kind of sad, Saxapahaw is a wonderful small town. I stop in 4-5 times a year and grab a soda from the store. It reminds me of Carrboro back in the 80's. Disney will bring Sheetz, McDonald's, Motel 6, and every other corporation. Saxapahaw will lose the vibe that makes it a treasure.
    Since the secret is out, I would go now, before it is gone. Weekend afternoons are great, They have a general store with a restaurant and a bakery. The store has a fantastic beer and wine selection. They have a bar restaurant next door that plays live music. It all sits on the Haw River 20 miles west of Chapel Hill.

  • Yannick Tsonga Mar 4, 2017
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    What am I missing here? It's a theme park. Move why?

  • Chad Stinner Mar 4, 2017
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    That's awesome! If you dislike a company because they support equal rights... you should probably reevaluate yourself, especially if you are christian.

  • Judy Loftin Mar 4, 2017
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    I guess I have to move away from NC