Feature Article - September 2003
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Theme Schemes

Creative motifs and clever theming give waterparks and splash play areas new depth

By Stacy St. Clair

Proponents contend that the thematic features better engage patrons because they excite imaginations and help patrons form a strong connection to the park. The fire station play area, for example, has a truck that shoots out water when various pedals and brakes are pushed. The nautical theme boasts a flag that can be raised and lowered on the ship's mast depending upon how many holes are covered on an interactive water pod.

Cameron Park in Waco, Texas  Saturation Station at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn.

Component Checklist

No matter how clever the theme, it just won't float without a properly designed facility. A competitive waterpark usually encompasses a combination of the following features to conquer today's market.

Zero-depth entry: The beach-type sloped entry is loved by mothers who worry about their small children falling into the water.

Fountains and sprays: A fun feature, especially on hot summer days when the water slide lines are too long. Often the easiest way to incorporate a theme.

Lazy river: A slow river ride that allows patrons to float along in an inner tube.

Splash play areas: Home to sprayers and water cannons, the hippest splash play areas now have themes, of course.

Slides: Your slide—or slides—is often the crown jewel of your facility. You better have a good one. Consider features that will make your facility unique such as racing slides, vertical drops and double slides.

Entertainment stages: Water isn't always enough to keep patrons amused today. Several facilities now have entertainment stages where bands and other acts perform. At Noah's Ark Waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells, costumed water animals put on a choreographed show.

Party venue: Birthday parties are a vital source of revenue for waterparks. Make sure your park has an adequate facility.