Feature Article - September 2014
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Riding the Wave of Success

Waterparks Find New & Creative Ways to Stay Afloat

By Kelli Ra Anderson

It Takes Two

According to Wyatt, partnerships with community organizations are a great way to build bridges of interest to groups that might not otherwise step foot in Rolling Hills Waterpark. They've found that partnerships with community groups can provide creative ways to expose certain demographics to the park, while benefiting the community in return.

Like many waterparks in recent years, they have opened up their lazy river to generate a little extra revenue by introducing a walking program to supplement water aerobics. They have also expanded their swimming program to attract niche guests like introducing water orientation classes to toddlers, a great success when the program was started three years ago.

"River walking is so new for us, however," Wyatt said, "that it really hasn't caught fire, but we think it's valuable to try. We have minimal overhead so the numbers aren't large, but it feels valuable. Deciding what to keep doing depends on how valuable we think something is and the cost-benefit radio to produce the program. In this case, the overhead is very small, so we can tolerate smaller numbers compared to swimming classes where we need substantial amounts to justify the guards."

With the advent of variable frequency drives, LED lights, and the latest filters and pumps, energy reduction and cost savings are much easier than for parks built even a decade ago.

Where his facility has definitely decided the effort is valuable despite modest numbers is working with the local autism coalition to offer a day each year for families with autism. Although only an estimated 50 families usually attend, it has been warmly received by the community and rightly so. By offering them a safe and calm day to themselves, devoid of the usual crowds and noise often so difficult for those on the spectrum, these families and their children get to enjoy a place they might never otherwise have the chance to experience. "Many find as they slowly work in the program, that they can begin to participate in larger groups," Wyatt said. "It's good for the families to see if it's a good fit for their activity level."

Pet owners, too, often have a special day all their own at many parks, usually the day after the last day of the summer season. At Rolling Hills, they have taken it a step further, partnering with the local humane society to sponsor a popular "Walk and Wag" event each year, a 5K run fundraiser for people and their pooches. From sponsoring disc golf events, Red Cross training, dog days to 5K biking, Rolling Hills has been up front and center in many of the community's special attractions.