Feature Article - September 2010
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Fun For The Whole Family

Waterpark Options for All Ages

By Dawn Klingensmith

The Park After Dark

Some waterparks have sought to attract and engage adults strictly on their own terms with adults-only, after-hours gatherings complete with cocktails. Parks are advised not to offer such events lightly, though, insofar as liability and risk management issues, including insurance coverage, must come into play.

"Only in Texas" was my brother's response when he learned about the BYOB swim parties held at Summer Fun Water Park in Belton. Besides drinking and swimming, activities include dancing, playing volleyball and floating down the lazy river. Uniformed police patrol the grounds to check IDs and enforce the rules, and anyone who's intoxicated is sent home in a cab or with a sober driver. Marketing materials stress there's "zero tolerance" for drunkenness and encourage the use of designated drivers. Nevertheless, according to the park's Web site, one of the perks of buying a season ticket for these events (there are 10 adult nights per season), besides the 10 percent discount, is a free "I survived Summer Fun Adult Night" T-shirt, which speaks to the degree of partying expected.

While the BYOB provision is perhaps unique to the Lone Star State, after-hours imbibing is not. Splash City Family Water Park in Collinsville, Ill., this summer held an adults-only luau with a Hawaiian buffet, live entertainment and cocktails.

At Sandcastle Waterpark in Pittsburgh, Pa., the quality of nightlife ensures the riverside facility transcends its daytime function without compromising its primary focus. The park is home to the Sandbar, an open-air bar and lounge with boat docks, a dance floor, dining and an oversize hot tub.

The Sandcastle's nightlife isn't all geared to adults, though. Family Dive-in Movie nights held throughout the season feature kid-friendly films over the wave pool.

Maybe Next Year…

My research has assured me that an invitation to a waterpark resort ought not to be dismissed out of hand, even by a land lubber like me who's likely to show up without a bathing suit. With so many "dry" and adult-friendly things to do, there's no need to put myself in a situation where more of my flesh is exposed than not.

Unless it's on a massage table. I'm down with that.

And spa treatments in general.

Let Jeff and the kids swim and slide to their hearts' content.

I say, "Bring on the loofah."