Feature Article - September 2010
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Fun For The Whole Family

Waterpark Options for All Ages

By Dawn Klingensmith

Daredevil Dads and Mindful Moms

I also did not bother to ask Jeff whether he rode the big rides at Schlitterbahn, since public jiggling does not concern him and not much scares him other than loofahs. "He rode all the rides there and raced us," Ali reported. "He had a really good time."

Gerwen said she and her spouse would have ridden the thrill rides at Wolf Creek Lodge had their two daughters been older, but at 4 and 5, the girls did not meet the height requirements. Perhaps Gerwen is an exception, though, because industry experts have observed gender differences in adult behavior at waterparks.

"Dads will usually get right in there with the kids and act like big kids themselves," said Randy Mendioroz, principal, Aquatic Design Group, Carlsbad, Calif. Generally, "Women aren't going down seven-story speed slides. They're a little more dignified than that. So it's the women you have to think about and take care of. If Mom's happy, then everyone's happy."

"I hate to generalize," Mendioroz added, "but women tend to be a bit more protective—if they're there with their families, they want to be close to the kids" but not necessarily right alongside them, getting wet.

Not surprisingly, women who are mothers are less self-centered than I, in that they don't demand much in the way of entertainment. "What do women want?" is a question for the ages but as it pertains to moms at waterparks, their desires and expectations are pretty basic. "You cannot have enough shade," Mendioroz said.

Particularly at the perimeter of splash pads, "You need amenity areas with lots of shade and chaise lounges," he added.

As a prospective adult chaperone who's not a parent, I am intrigued by such water activities as the aquatic petting zoo at Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark, South Padre Island, Texas. Plus, there's Snuba, a cross between scuba diving and snorkeling that involves breathing underwater through a long air hose attached to your mask. These are activities I and the kids would all enjoy.