Feature Article - February 2007
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Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Aquatic Centers

By Jessic Royer Ocken

The Great Indoors

If the sight of an Austrian village doesn't immediately make you look overhead for 800 gallons of falling water, you haven't been to Avalanche Bay.

This 88,000-square-foot waterpark is the latest addition to an already lavish golf and ski resort at Boyne Mountain in northwest Lower Michigan. Styled as an Austrian village, the indoor waterpark ties in nicely with the ski resort and wintry weather outside, but inside it's a toasty 84 to 87 degrees, and 14 different aquatic adventure rides keep kids (and adults) entertained for hours.

Attractions include the Rip Zone surf simulator (the first in Michigan), nine waterslides, a wet climbing wall and an activity pool with a suspension net, floating logs and water basketball hoops, plus Splasherhorn Mountain, which every 10 minutes gushes forth with 800 gallons of water, showering anyone standing below.

Behind the scenes, Avalanche Bay is kept safe and running smoothly by a staff of 50 to 80 employees (depending on the season) who stay fully trained via monitoring by an outside consulting firm that specializes in safety and risk management.

Lifeguards are tested and re-licensed every year and are trained in techniques tailored for waterparks and shallow-water activities.

The waterpark's nearly 240,000 gallons of water are sanitized with a three-part system, which uses both ozone and ultraviolet light to zap germs and debris and means there's much less chlorine required to keep the water clean. In an indoor area, this ensures that the chlorine smell and burning eyes are kept to a minimum, which is especially nice for those enjoying out-of-water activities like Avalanche Bay's multi-level arcade.