Feature Article - September 2008
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Schooled in Aquatics

Waterpark Trends from the College Campus to the Municipal Center

By Dawn Klingensmith

Innovators in Aquatics
AquaCity in Poprad, Slovakia

An exemplar of green design; runs on sun, wind and water power. Photocells in the glass walls generate 80 percent of the complex's electricity requirements, reportedly saving 24 tons of carbon dioxide from being released. Naturally heated water, drilled out of a subterranean lake, heats the hotels, buildings and pools. In one pool, light effects change the color of the water, and lasers projected onto a wall of cascading water create three-dimensional spectacles. An ultraviolet sanitation system and stainless-steel pool liners (as opposed to ceramic tiles) decrease the amount of chlorine used. Leisure pools feature lifts and ramp access with poolside hoists for guests who use wheelchairs or are otherwise disabled. Considered as much of a spa as a waterpark, AquaCity is one of the first resorts to offer cryotherapy, a cutting-edge treatment that includes up to three minutes in a chamber chilled to extremely low temperatures.

Aquatica in Orlando, Fla.

Combining water rides and wildlife encounters, SeaWorld's new sister park, located across the street, bills Dolphin Plunge as its primary attraction. The ride consists of side-by-side, enclosed see-through tube slides, which dip underwater into a dolphin pool. Guests who don't catch of glimpse of the dolphins through the tubes can see them while floating along a lazy river, which also skirts a lagoon teeming with exotic fish. While the waterpark has no shortage of thrills, it is widely praised for its expansive children's section, including a special "cove" for "little squirts" where all rides are limited to those under 48 inches tall. Even tikes not old enough to toddle can slide down tubes with mom and dad in specially built rafts. Tots are required to wear life vests, which the park provides for free. Offering fun for the whole family, many attractions feature dual experiences at once, including side-by-side wave pools that can be operated independently or together. Each offers a different experience: crashing waves and 5-foot swells on one side and gently rolling surf on the other. Likewise, river rides offer two different journeys—one serene, the other extreme.

Roy Aquatic Center Splash Pad in Roy, Utah

Hybrid design combines a pool and splash pad geared to safely introduce young children to a pool environment. The pool includes a large, soft-surfaced dry-deck area where small fries can frolic. The spray features encourage experimental, interactive play by allowing children to turn them on and off at will. Two fire hydrants enable children to spray each other or onlookers below. The pool slopes to 18 feet deep with steps for parents to sit and supervise.

Splish Splash Waterpark in Long Island, N.Y.

A standard setter in theming, Splish Splash debuted in 1994, and every few years, it adds a new themed attraction. Most recently, in 2006, the waterpark unveiled "Alien Invasion," which hurls four-person rafts 50 feet in total darkness into a giant funnel. The premise is that aliens invaded the site in search of the remains of a spaceship that crash-landed. Others include a "Jaws"-themed ride featuring themed music and a queue area that soaks people waiting to embark; a Western-themed slide called Shotgun Falls; and Hollywood Stunt Rider, an enclosed family raft ride complete with animatronics starring a fictional film director.