Thousands of people lined up for 500 jobs that will be available when a new water park opens next month near a speedway in North Carolina.

Nearly 4,000 people came to Lowes Motor Speedway on Thursday to apply for jobs at Great Wolf Lodge, the Independent Tribune of Concord and Kannapolis reported.

"For the first day here, this is very strong," said Curtis Brown, vice president of Great Wolf Resorts Inc. "We certainly attribute some of it to the economic downturn."

Brown says the company usually interviews about 5,000 applicants over three days before a new resort opens. Interviews were to continue Friday and Saturday.

The Wisconsin company is hiring for departments from housekeeping and front desk to spa services.

The 36-acre development will have 402 guest rooms and an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park.

So many people showed up that the line snaked outside of the speedway offices into the parking lot, where some waited two to three hours in the cold. Speedway officials opened a garage area so applicants could come inside and get warm.

Guam Reid, 39, of Charlotte, was laid off from his job in the customer service industry in November and heard about the job fair from a friend.

"It's rough looking for a job now," Reid said, who joined the line at 11:30 a.m. and hadn't gotten an interview by 3:30 p.m. "It's very competitive. I was kind of overwhelmed when I came here this morning and saw the line."