June 24, 2016
By Mary Perez at sunherald.com
BILOXI — It’s billed as the largest family entertainment center on the Gulf Coast, and when Margaritaville Resort Biloxi opens Thursday residents of South Mississippi will get a look inside.
Kids will swoop overhead on the indoor zip line roller coaster. Like a roller coaster, it starts with a climb, and like a zip line, it’s a fast ride, only with dips and curves.
“The scariest part was when they let go,” said Carina Derbigny of Long Beach, one of the first to ride during Monday’s employee family night. “On real zip lines you don’t twist and on this you do,” she said.
Other kids will navigate the ropes courses or scale the volcano rock-climbing wall. Those who make it to the top of the 40-foot mountain can climb right through the floor and make an appearance in the Margaritaville Cafe above.
“It’s amazingly great,” Connie Derbigny said as her family moved on to try the Highway 66 bowling lanes and the games that dazzled with lights and sounds. “It’s perfect for family entertainment.
The theme, decor and restaurants at the resort are inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer-songwriter, author and enterpreneur Jimmy Buffett, who was born in Pascagoula.
New generations of Parrotheads will be born in Escape — a 55,000-square-foot playground for all ages, complete with electronic Yahtzee, air hockey, skee-ball and the world’s largest Pac-Man game. All the latest games also fill the space and with virtual fun. The most eye-catching games are projected right on the floor, enticing visitors to duck a virtual football. Golf simulators let visitors play the most challenging holes in the world and switch to soccer and other sports.
Those who want to play in Escape put money on a card and collect tickets to redeem for prizes in the redemption center inside the Margaritaville store.
Along with the Margaritaville-themed restaurants, Doe’s Eat Place enters the Coast market with its famed hot tamales. Bars are located throughout the resort so margaritas never far away.
“Everything will be ready for opening day,” said Cono Caranna, one of the developers. The time for Thursday’s opening depends on meeting the occupancy requirements. A grand opening date will be announced soon.
The transformation of the former Casino Magic that’s been closed since Hurricane Katrina began soon after the White House Hotel was restored in Biloxi.
“It’s been a long two years,” said Caranna.
The resort has paintings by marine artists Marty Wilson and Jody Barrielleaux Barrio through every corner of Escape, out to the waterpark that is reserved for hotel guests and even into the elevators.
Hotel reservations are being accepted for June 30 and beyond, and Caranna said those who want to come sooner should check the website for availability.
“This is going to be tremendous for the city of Biloxi,” said Councilman George Lawrence, who could survey his ward from the hotel lobby with its windows overlooking the beach at sunset. “Everybody’s having a great time.”