Supplement Feature - February 2011
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Catching the Wave

Staying Current With the Latest Aquatic Designs

By Kelli Anderson

Change Up

But as anyone in the waterpark business knows, staying relevant means regular changes to keep things exciting. Change is good. But change also costs money.

With a waterpark industry-recommended new feature every two to three years, aquatic designers are finding creative ways to help communities achieve this goal at a much lower cost. Forward-thinking designs plan with expansion and change in mind from day one.

First and foremost, today's best aquatic designs plan for the future. Building in phases and with a mind to expand requires not only the forethought to build on the right sized property, but also requires that infrastructure be built with a mind to the future.

Building infrastructure such as filtering systems and piping, sized appropriately with the final phase as the goal, will cut down on the expense of doing twice or three times that which should have been done once. If there is any thought about eventually going bigger, it is essential that infrastructure be built with that in mind.

Some features particularly lend themselves to future expansion—namely, lazy rivers and splashpad elements. For lazy rivers, it can be as simple as adding wave or splash elements each year to change it up or building one lazy river instead of two that still allows patrons the choice of still water or rough by designing a wide enough birth for patrons to avoid waterfalls or rapids as they are phased in.

"One thing that lends itself to future development is a lazy river configuration where you use it as a patron-carrying roadway in your facility," McElyea suggested. "It lends itself to little pods that can be developed off of it—connecting to a new slide or volleyball court. This is something that for promotion, is an absolute must in the water park business. You have to be relevant."

Another way aquatic facilities are changing themselves to stay relevant is by switching out interactive features from one park to another. Choosing elements in spray parks, for example, that can be rotated between a community's multiple parks or traded between two different communities can mean that every summer or even every month, a community splash park can go from turtles and fishes to pirates and treasure at no extra cost. It's all in the planning.