Feature Article - September 2003
Find a printable version here

Theme Schemes

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

By Stacy St. Clair


PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WOODRIDGE PARK DISTRICT/PAT SANHAMEL
Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park in Woodridge, Ill.

The Woodridge Park District understood the intense market before opening its waterpark six years ago, but it did not shy away from the challenge. Woodridge is one of Illinois' medium-sized districts, meaning it doesn't have the resources, deep pockets or built-in patron population of the larger parks and recreation departments.

Still, when decisions about a new waterpark were being made six years ago, officials decided they wanted to swim with the big boys. They gambled on an elaborately themed facility that could compete with both the private sector and the sizeable districts nearby.

The district staff wanted to incorporate a bayou theme because the park was going to be built near prominent wetlands in the village. The idea struck a chord with Williams, who had just returned from a golfing trip to the Carolinas and was struck by the rustic simplicity of the Appalachian cabins he saw there.

He had taken dozen of pictures of the homes, most of them wooden houses with tin or split-form roofs. He was drawn to the dilapidated wooden porches.

"You could just picture someone sitting out there on a rocker," he says.

PHOTO COURTESY OF VORTEX AQUATIC STRUCTURES
Talcy Park in Montreal

The rural architecture served as an inspiration to Williams as he designed the park, which later was named Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park. In some ways, creating a themed waterpark is easier than other recreation facilities because the parks generally include only four small buildings: an entrance, bathhouse, concession stand and filter room.

Williams planned all four to look like the cabins he photographed on his vacation. He put wood exteriors on the buildings and installed split-form roofs.

The mechanical room was built on an island—called Crocodile Island—and a huge porch was connected to the structure. The porch now doubles as entertainment stage, and patrons are invited to "swim, float or sit" on the isle during performances, which have become part of the district's "Jive and Dive" concert series.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMPEX WATERTOYS

The large porch also is home to all parties at the park. The platform, which has become a birthday hot spot, is large enough to hold two groups at the same time.

The designers carried out the theme even further by giving all the features bayou-sounding names. In addition to Crocodile Island, there is a tube slide called Tabasco Falls, a body slide named Pelican's Plunge and a lazy river dubbed Cajun Creek. The zero-depth pool is referred to as Cattail Bay, while the sand area is called Mud Bug Beach. Patrons seeking some refreshment, cool off at the Swamp Shack Café.