Feature Article - September 2004
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Water 101

Tips for squeezing every last drop of success out of your waterpark and splash play area

By Stacy St. Clair

The City of Englewood, Colo., knew it could build something magnificent. It had enough money. Voters saw to that in November 2001 when they passed a $12.8 bond issue to construct three recreation projects. Of that money, $7 million would be used to build the Pirates Cove Aquatic Center.

A buccaneer theme would be carried throughout. The 5.14-acre site would be transformed into an exhilarating pirate adventure, complete with a 750-gallon dump bucket at the attraction's center.

"We wanted to create a unique and fun place where families could spend time together, while also building an attraction that was flexible enough to grow with our city's future needs," says Jerrell Black, Englewood's director of parks and recreation.

When the facility opened in May, it had more than met Black's goal. Fake cannons fired puffs of smoke into the air. A voice-activated pirate statute greeted guests at the entrance. Exotic birds were strategically placed to produce sound effects that completed the theme.

Park officials were pleased. And, more importantly, so were the patrons.

The park was filled on opening day. Such a turnout was expected, given the excitement surrounding the park and the tax dollars used to build it.

But when the throngs kept coming the next day and the day after that and the day after that, Englewood knew it had something special.

They also knew whom they could thank for it. The company hired to design Pirates Cove also promised to help with the marketing plan.

In doing so, Englewood became one of an increasing number of facilities that reply upon aquatic companies for more than just building their parks. Englewood depended upon its designer—an international company with a strong public-relations network—to both attract media and patrons in the metropolitan area.

They wanted the Denver area to know about their multimillion dollar waterpark that features three 35-foot slides, a competition pool, an action river with a 38.3-foot vortex and a spray garden.

"With all the distinctive elements at Pirates Cove, we expect to draw families from all over the south metro Denver area for a fun, entertaining and imaginative experience," Black says.

The park's designers came through, with stories in all the local media. It created such a buzz about the park, all the area television stations aired stories about it. Radio stations from Colorado Springs even called to talk about it.

"We had tremendous marketing support from (the company) and their agency partner in promoting the opening of Pirates Cove," says Denise White, Englewood's parks and recreation marketing and public information administrator. "With their help, we were able to generate media coverage, create an exciting event to preview the park, and raise awareness within the community of our commitment to provide a safe and entertaining waterpark for families to enjoy."