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ORLANDO, FL-A local condo-hotel developer believes the addition of a $3-million pirate-themed pool area differentiates it from all others within this popular tourist market. Pirate’s Plunge at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village echoes the enduring popularity of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at nearby Walt Disney World without being directly connected.

The new 25,000-sf aquatic center, which features a 7,500-sf pool and a water slide within a replica pirate ship, was introduced earlier this month. Owners of the 60-acre resort think the appeal of pirate-related play area remains strong even though it has been a few years since Disney’s last “Pirates” movie has been in theaters.

“We think it will go forever,” Larry Cohen, senior vice president of LBV Resort Village, tells GlobeSt.com. “If my grandkids and several thousand other kids who have been playing there the last few weeks are any indication, it will be here to stay.”

Besides its proximity to Disney World, the resort is also convenient to a pirate-themed dinner theater within Orlando’s tourist circuit that Cohen hopes to be able to connect with for cross-marketing purposes. Pirate mania also comes from a professional sports standpoint, with football’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers having a strong fan base within the market.

The condo-hotel resort, which has nearly 500 units in five buildings, could certainly use a boost. Cohen says sales are off by approximately 40% from a year ago, though that is more related to the tightening credit market rather than waning investor interest.

“The biggest problem we have is with lenders and the meltdown of the second-home investment marketplace,” he says. “The good news for us is that there is a certain amount of cash buyers out there.”

LBV Resort Village is also hoping to capitalize on international investment, having been approved in early October as an EB-5 regional center by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. The EB-5 program, which Cohen calls a “grand slam,” grants residency to foreign investors who put $1 million in a regional center enterprise and create at least ten jobs in the process.

“There are literally thousands of people around the world who would love to have an in to the US,” Cohen says. “This separates us from every other product in the state, let alone the country, and opens the way for more development.”

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