Feature Article - May 2008
Find a printable version here

Always in Season

Transforming Single-Season Swimming Into Year-Round Fun

By Kate Bongiovanni

Enclosures Across the States

From indoor waterparks to YMCA swimming pools, sports structures are going from seasonal to year-round facilities. Enclosures of varying types—transparent roof systems, retractable roof systems, glass windows and/or walls to allow natural light inside—can be seen at facilities across the country:

Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville, Va.: Its indoor waterpark is shaped like a pyramid with wood framing; a transparent system for its roof and glass walls allows sunlight to penetrate and provide a view of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. Opened in July 2005, it became the second ski resort behind Boyne Resorts in Michigan to build an indoor waterpark at a ski destination.

Wild Bear Falls at Westgate Resorts' Smoky Mountain Resort, Gatlinburg, Tenn.: When it opened in March 2007, it became the largest waterpark in the south and boasts a retractable roof for its 60,000-square-foot facility. The roof allows the park to be either indoors or outdoors depending on the weather conditions, and select parts of roof can be opened throughout the day to add shading and climate control to the facility.

Clark County Family YMCA, Vancouver, Wash.: This YMCA boasts a zero-entry pool to accommodate all ages, has a retractable roof for ventilation and protection from the sun's ray, and utilizes a purification system that helps decrease the effects of chlorine on skin, eyes, hair and clothing.

Swim Orlando YMCA, Orlando, Fla.: Residing on the well-known International Drive, this facility claims to be "one of the most prestigious competition and training pools in Florida" according to its Web site, www.swimorlando.com. The indoor pool has a retractable roof to accommodate swimming in all weather conditions and can be configured to long course 50-meter lanes.

Raptor Reef Indoor Waterpark, Hayden, Idaho: This waterpark's retractable roof allows the park to be closed in the winter and open in the summer, yet provides year-round sun tanning and a comfortable 85-degree temperature.

Great Wolf Lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.: Its indoor facility caters to water fun year-round as do some of the park's attractions. The Howlin' Tornado ride, a six-story funnel that drops riders 30 feet per second, features a clear dome that provides guests with year-round entertainment.

Kalahari Resorts, Sandusky, Ohio: Its newly opened expansion helps makes this indoor waterpark the largest in the country and its roof system marks it as innovative as well. Guests can enjoy the natural light provided by this roof, perfect for sun-tanning, growing plants indoors, shading for climate control, and minimizing acoustic reverberations.

White Water Bay at Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, Lake George, N.Y.: Across the street from Six Flags' outdoor amusements, this 38,000-square-foot park is the first waterpark to be built inside a hotel in New York state. Its roof allows UV light to penetrate and helps regulate air and water temperatures to a steady 80 degrees.

Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, Galveston, Texas: Voted No. 1 in America in 2007 in Amusement Today's golden ticket survey, its Wasserfest facility features a 70,000-square-foot climate-controlled space with a convertible roof and wall system. Its convertible system allows for the entire space to be either indoors or outdoors depending on the weather conditions.

Manhattan Plaza Health Club, New York, N.Y.: Nothing is impossible in the heart of the Big Apple where this health club features a midtown pool complete with sundeck, tropical vegetation and retractable glass atrium roof.