Water Fun for Everyone
Wake Island in Pleasant Grove, Calif.
When Noel Carter, owner of Wake Island near Sacramento, Calif.—the largest water sports park on the West Coast—realized that he had gotten what he paid for with the installation of substandard giant inflatables form a generic manufacturer in China, he needed to do something fast.
So, he turned to Commercial Recreation Specialists, and the professionals at the Verona, Wis.-based company helped transform Wake Island into a more thrilling, more colorful and more memorable experience.
Providing fun for families and people of all ages, Wake Island is an 80-acre park that features myriad activities. In addition to its floating obstacle course, the park also provides a swimming area, pedalboats, boatless wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, concessions and more.
More than 50 giant blue and green structures—slides, towers, wiggle bridges, ramps, a trampoline, a water totter, balance beams, tunnels, monkey bars, hurdles, domes, swings and more—now form modular obstacle courses on the water and make for challenging floating fun, safe and exciting play, and what Carter calls a "visually intense" experience.
"With the Sports Park, a picture tells a thousand words," he said. "The thing advertises itself."
What makes Wake Island even more special is that it's among the first of its kind in the United States to embrace the emerging trend of water-based family entertainment centers, or WBFEC.
The WBFEC market will only get bigger, according to Ron Romens, president of CRS, which is pioneering the concept. Customized for each location and budget, a WBFEC can turn any location—a lake, waterfront, marina or even parcel of unused land—into a revenue-generating attraction.
"This is definitely a trend," Romens said. "People don't forget this type of recreation, which encourages active play, social interaction and exciting but safe experiences. There's nothing else like it in the marketplace."
CRS worked with Carter to understand his business goals and created a tailored plan that met his needs. The plan featured a strategy focused on creating easy entry and exits, varying degrees of challenge, and integrating differing rotations of play to encourage repeat visits. Wake Island's Sports Park was built for success using a high degree of engineering and technical know-how to create a self-directed experience that keeps guests coming back for more.
"We are a solutions provider," Romens said. "Our primary objective is to help make our customers' businesses wildly successful. We preserve what they have already created by proposing solutions to make operations more efficient and fresher, while increasing per capita revenues and minimizing owner risk, liability, downtime and staffing needs."
Carter is certainly a believer. "It's that kind of partnership that is extremely important in this type of business," he said. "You learn so much so fast. And while it might cost you more, you will save a lot in the end."
Robert Cirjak, the Germany-based CEO of Wibit, the manufacturer of Wake Island's inflatables, said that many of his customers around the world have replaced what he calls substandard, unsafe and noncompliant equipment.
"You can go to Wal-Mart and buy a toy that's manufactured in China, and the instructions are very minimal and the quality might be questionable," Carter said, explaining his experience with the first set of inflatables that he installed in early 2015 and removed that September. "It was definitely a trial-and-error process."
Since Wake Island's initial upgrade, CRS has added more equipment to expand the facility's evolving waterplay environment. Romens now points to Wake Island as an example of the right way to create and market water-based family entertainment centers that deliver unique guest experiences and maximize ROI.
"Wake Island is a leader in this emerging category, and we're proud to be part of it," Romens said.