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Will the Wharf Make It?

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Little Rock, AR
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Will the Wharf Make It?

We visited the GS/OB area last week and drove over to the Wharf one afternoon. I was amazed at how dead this place is. A lady in one store said traffic usually picks up around dinner time but even when we drove back over after 6 or 7, it still wasn't that busy (a few more cars and people but nothing major).

We had planned to have dinner at one of the restaurants but decided not to based on the prices--I'm amazed that so many of the places are charging such high prices! I've always considered GS to be a family friendly destination and there's no way most families can eat out at those prices.

I also thought the area was rather unattractive--maybe it needs more vegetation and less concrete? I certainly didn't really feel like I was at the beach. When I get things in the mail or on the internet from GS/OB, the Wharf is heavily marketed. Seeing it in person, I'm not that impressed. So, I'm curious as to whether or not others think it will make it?

Gulf Shores, AL
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1. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

The Wharf is a matter of personal preference. The developers thought that the beach was the only thing to do here and a marina-based property would do well. The economy slowdown has affected their timetable. Gulf World didn't get off the ground and its replacement, Bama Bayou, isn't moving very quickly, either. The proposed waterpark on the west side of the Beach Express isn't going to happen.

It's usually after 8 pm when we go there and the place is jumping during the summer. Granted, a lot of the traffic is local high school kids who don't spend a lot of money, but some of the shops seem to be doing well. If they can book something besides country music has-beens at the amphitheater it will help their vendor sales.

I agree that some of the restaurants are a little more upscale than some families desire, but those of us whose kids are gone or almost gone like that. Before The Wharf the choices outside fried seafood were limited. The Starbucks there is on the Starbucks "to be closed" list and that's a bummer.

I think if they can hang on until the economy improves they will be fine. The condos on the west side of the beach express are still on hold, but there is plenty more planned for The Wharf.

Little Rock, AR
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112 reviews
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2. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

Interesting thoughts on the Wharf. Coming from a local, I can see your point about wanting some nicer restaurants in town that serve something other than fried seafood! Can't blame you for that. After all the seafood we ate last week (most of it steamed, thank goodness!), I was craving a good hamburger when we got back to Arkansas!

As far as the Gulf World (or whatever it's going to be called now) goes, do they still plan to have the marine animal shows? I had seen a website about this venture and am really looking forward to that, if it happens. I can see my son and other family members really enjoying that when we visit the area.

Thanks again for your comments.

Gulf Shores, AL
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for Gulf Shores, Orange Beach
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3. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

Hard to say what will happen with Gulf World. When the idea was hatched it was going to be a SeaWorld, then that didn't happen. Then Gulf World and they ran out of money or whatever. Now it's called Bama Bayou and I still don't see any yellow machines moving dirt around very often. Hopefully, it will get built before it becomes "Bubba's Chihuahua Circus".

I think it's just an economic slowdown. We aren't seeing as many license plates from Ohio and Illinois as we usually do in the summer. More Mississippi and Louisiana drivers now (motto: If it moves, aim at it!). We'll just have to weather it like everyone else.

Beebe, Arkansas
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4. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

Lee, It seemed to be that it wan'y any different last summer....

I just don't get wanting to do anything but beach stuff..

The warf wasn;t planned out well to me....

It is kinda hard to find for the average tourist...

LAst year was the first time we ever had been in that area of orange beach...

And i noticed a new shopping area being built near there,,,,,,,,

Little Rock, AR
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5. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

We noticed a lot of LA license plates down that way last week. It's like everywhere you turned, LSU was showing up! We also saw lots of Alabama, Florida, and AR plates too. I think just about everyone in AR heads down there during the summer (or at least it seems that way at times).

Thanks for the info on the Gulf World/Bama Bayou--I do hope that works out, just for my own selfish reasons! I've always loved Seaworld-type shows and think it would be fun for my family when we visit. You would think the area could possibly sustain a small type of Seaworld attraction (not a large one like what Orlando has by any means). As much as we enjoy the beach while there (that is the reason we come, after all!), we find ourselves wanting to get out a bit in the afternoons and evenings.

As far as the Wharf goes, my only experience with that area in the past was driving on the Beach Express to get to OB a bit faster. As I said before, I didn't find it that impressive--it's not really attractive looking to me at this point. The big empty parking lot looking area in the front doesn't appeal to me, I guess! I'll be interested to see what happens with it. I would have normally wanted to give Johnny Rockets a try but knew about the bad service, thanks to some of you and your previous posts. Maybe things will improve next year.

Starkville...
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6. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

I hate to hear that the Wharf's starbucks is going to be one of the ones that closes! That is my favorite Starbucks. We don't have any where I live so on our trips to GS/OB we always go there 2-3 times and get a frappacino and walk around the area. We love it there. We just enjoy walking around at night and watching the people and looking at the boats. And everytime we have gone there, in Sept and March it is always pretty busy. I guess it's just so different from anything around here that we really enjoy it.

Little Rock, AR
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112 reviews
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7. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

Maybe we'll give the Wharf another chance on a future trip. If nothing else, we should try to go one evening and see it when it's a little more active.

Gulf Shores, AL
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8. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

Quick update on The Wharf. We were there last night and I noticed Frontera Grill, the Mexican restaurant next to Starbucks, has closed. Nothing in that space, yet, but I think they must have just closed in the last few days. We didn't walk the entire property, so I guess they could have moved to another space, but I doubt it. Pretty good crowd walking around for a Wednesday night.

Gulf Shores, AL
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9. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

Just missed you DD! I was there yesterday as well (08/20/08) and noticed that the chicken wings place that was across the street from Live Bait was no longer there. It was mid afternoon and there was a good number of people around. BTW have you tried Nix $2.00 martini's yet? Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5-7. Great deal.

I think the Wharf will be fine, just some strategic positioning taking place, finding what works and where.

Gulf Shores, AL
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for Gulf Shores, Orange Beach
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10. Re: Will the Wharf Make It?

We haven't even been in NiX, yet. We go to Rafter's often because I can get Guiness there. If they have $2 martinis, though, I'm there!