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Supplement Feature - October 2017

Riding the New Waves

Advances in Waterpark Design & Technology

By Rick Dandes


Another trending ride is a surf simulator experience for beginners, where any person at any age level can get on the board at first without any skill level and ride. You can surf without actually learning how to surf. The point is to make it accessible to all of your guests. Some people want the experience, but don't want to work at it. Or take a lazy river that you see in many parks, and make it a tidal wave river. "In that way," Mahoney said, "It becomes an action adventure and not the standard slow river you see at every waterpark. You can make it a thrilling ride."

Keep things fresh and different so that you can target all of your audience. Once they are at your waterpark, if your staff is friendly, your park is clean and there is a good layout, if there are enough places to sit and relax, the lines aren't too long and there is enough to do when you aren't waiting on a line, if all that comes together, you'll have created an experience that will get people to come back.

Lake Wilderness at the Smokies, in Sevierville, Tenn., fully opened its waterpark in 2009, said Josh Bahe, director of sales and marketing, and part of their operating plan is to bring in new rides every few years. Recently, he said, they installed a children's area that hadn't been there before.

Similarly, Dru Brooks, director of sales and marketing, Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, said keeping things fresh is very important in returning guests. Camelbeach is a part of the Camelback Mountain Resort, a well-known ski resort in the northeast, so establishing its own identity as a warm-weather destination has been important.

Latest Development in Slides

You can work competitions into any ride and slide, Pakis said. "We have a ride that looks like a typical bowl-type slide at first glance. But it's different because it pits two four-rider family rafts against each other from opposite directions. The riders reach extremely high speeds while being separated by a patent-pending divider, so they can see each other throughout the competition, which really makes the excitement build throughout the ride."

Try adding a coaster that goes up and down. There is always something you can do to make the experience different, Mahoney said. Sometimes your location provides all you need to enhance the ride.

At Camelbeach, "the advantage we have over other waterparks is that we are not a flat parking lot, we are carved into the side of a ski mountain," Brooks said. "So we have that natural terrain, which means we can go up without having a ton of stairs. We use that to our advantage. A game like Titan, is four football fields long and you surf down the mountain. People can slide down trails that we ski on. We can really use our elevation without having to bring in a scaffold."

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