Feature Article - July 2008
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Splash City Roadmap

Trends in Aquatic Design & Programming

By Kate Bongiovanni



Learn the Lingo

Before you can determine what you're going to add to your aquatic facility, it helps to know what the options are. The recently released Aquatic Play Feature Handbook from the National Swimming Pool Foundation defines several types of fun features:

WAVE POOLS: Designed to simulate the movement of the ocean, wave pools have a zero-depth entry and become gradually deeper, allowing patrons to play or surf.

ACTIVITY POOLS: These shallow pools, for children or adults, can range from an inch to several feet deep and may feature a small slide, floats, decorative falls and fountains, play structures and more.

CATCH POOLS: This is the pool at the end of the waterslide, where people slide out. NSPF points out that it's important to place a lifeguard at this location to communicate to the dispatcher at the top of the slide when it's safe to send the next slider.

WATERSLIDES: A common attraction, waterslides vary widely, from twisting tornadoes and sidewinders to family raft rides and tube rides, body flumes, speed slides and even water roller coasters. They can be straight or twisty, enclosed or open, designed for one rider or multiple users and so on.

INTERACTIVE PLAY SYSTEMS: Like a playground, but just add water. These systems may be zero-depth structures with a variety of water interactions, from mists and sprays to dumping buckets and more. They often feature smaller slides and climbing structures as well.

LEISURE RIVERS: Ah the lazy river—generally a meandering track where patrons ride along in an inner tube, leisure rivers offer a relaxing way to enjoy the water.

ACTION RIVERS: Take the lazy river and turn it into a rapids, and you've got your action river. These attractions mimic a mountain stream, with whitewater rapids, whirlpools, banked turns and intermediate quiet-water pools.

VORTEX POOLS: Circular pools that send users spinning, vortex pools are smaller versions of lazy rivers with faster-moving water.

CONTINUOUS SURFING POOLS: Who says you have to go to the coast to surf? The surfing pool sends a thin sheet of water over a wave form to allow patrons to surf or body board.

NSPF offers guidance on staffing all of these features, as well as advice on typical user loads and water trouble you might experience. For more information, visit www.nspf.org.