Feature Article - October 2007
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Making Waves

Big Waterpark Trends Hit Smaller Facilities

By Emily Tipping

Make it fresh

Another way to keep people coming back for more is to keep offering them more to come back for. Take a cue from larger waterparks and make a change—even a small one—every year or two. Add a new slide, a new ride, or change up your splash play elements. On a smaller scale, you can offer a new event or feature a new festival that follows the theme of your park. Even simpler, you can add a new themed item to your concessions menu.

"We keep trying to keep it fresh," Pupillo said. "We are constantly brainstorming with our clientele, our customers, to try to find what to do next. Every other year or so, we make a large capital investment to put in new slides and rides."

In 2005, for example, Hawaiian Waters added Da' FlowRider, which provides 40 feet of continuous wave action for those who want to try out their surfing skills. In 2002, the Volcano Express was added, 300 feet of "sheer adrenaline rush," where patrons can race each other down the fiery summit of a volcano to the cool waters below at speeds of more than 40 miles per hour.

"I think that keeping things fresh is always a challenge, because the ride manufacturers are always coming up with something new," Pupillo added.

The Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort went well beyond adding a new ride when it added a new indoor waterpark in 2006. Designed by Architectural Design Consultants Inc., the Wild Waterdome includes the usual attractions, a wave pool, family raft racing ride and cabanas, but it also features something unique—year-round sunlight, thanks to the use of a transparent roof system. Guests can tan through the winter months because the roof provides full UV transference—not a bad way to relax before or after hitting the ski slopes.

At Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., the original athletic field, grandstand, picnic area and children's playground built in 1907 were transformed in the 1970s into a full-fledged theme park. But the changes didn't stop there. To celebrate its 100th year, Hersheypark opened the Boardwalk in 2007.

A tribute to the famous beaches of the Northeast—Atlantic City, Coney Island, Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach—the Boardwalk features five water attractions, including the East Coast Waterworks, reportedly the largest water play structure in the world. It includes seven slides, two crawl tunnels, nearly 600 interactive water toys and more than 54,000 gallons of water fun for all ages.

Though they tend to operate on tighter budgets than privately owned facilities, municipal waterparks and family aquatic centers can keep things fresh, too.

In North Richland Hills at NRH2O Family Waterpark, for example, the park added The Accelerator in July 2007, a four-lane mat racer that sends guests speeding down a three story slide. Hyland Hills Water World in Colorado also added a speed slide in 2007. The park's new TurboRacer is an eight-track slide where racers hit speeds of up to 22 miles per hour over the 400-foot track.