Feature Article - April 2014
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Make a Splash

Spraygrounds Get (Even More) Creative

By Dawn Klingensmith

Part of Something Bigger

The first spraygrounds generally replaced dilapidated wading pools as standalone community parks. We have already seen how they are being included as a cohesive design element in mixed-use urban spaces. Nowadays, especially overseas, they are being incorporated into theme parks, hotels and other tourist spots and area attractions. Even destination waterparks are creating space for spraygrounds, either in the design phase or as a retrofit. "They're starting to realize that a large water playground is an integral part of a waterpark," said Wyeth Tracy, president of a waterpark and sprayground company with manufacturing facilities in Toronto. "We're seeing it a lot in China, and some older parks in the U.S. are in discussions to add them. In the past, they only concentrated on big waterslides, wave pools, lazy rivers" and the like.

Why the shift? "You need to offer something for the little ones," Thomas said.

It's the younger kids who propel entire families to the waterpark, he explained: "Teens can be dropped off at the movies or someplace with $20, and they're happy. The little ones pester the parents until the whole family goes."

Tracy also sees a market for spraygrounds developing globally with zoos and other outdoor venues because "they increase length of stay by offering a way to cool off in the summer." Hotels and cruise ships are two other growing markets.

An altogether different market that's emerging is the dog park niche. Some communities have spraygrounds designed just for dogs. "It's kind of like with kids, how they separate by age group — they have areas for big dogs and little dogs" with smaller, gentler sprayers "where dogs might be intimidated by big splashes," Thomas said.

The filtration system needs to be able to handle the dog hair, Thomas said, and this market may be too young at this point to see how hairy of a situation that might be.

Although we're closing with canines, it's clear that spraygrounds have come into their own and haven't gone to the dogs. The future looks promising, with standardization and codification on the horizon.