Supplement Feature - October 2019
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Just Add Water

Indoors or Out, Waterparks Offer Fun for All

By Dave Ramont


Cloward H2O worked on the three phases of the Glenwood project, and Clawson said Shoshone Chutes takes advantage of a slope in the northwest corner of the property. "This is a thrilling and exhilarating experience for a broad range of guests who will be able to ride on either single or double tubes along a waterway with as much as 32,000 gallons per minute of flow.

"The decision to add these amenities for the owner of the hot springs facility was based on their need to provide additional activity for children," said Clawson, explaining that the old slides, mini golf and dilapidated 1950s-era wading pool weren't cutting it. "The owner wanted something that respected 'authentic Colorado,' with class and a touch of the European spa roots. When they saw the concept for the uniquely-designed rapids river—the first of its kind in the United States—they were all for it."

Waterpark designers know that it's crucial to appeal to all demographics, and Mahoney points to their recent project at the Gaylord Opryland SoundWaves indoor/outdoor water experience as an example of how indoor resort waterparks are now perceived. "The inspiration behind the design is tailoring the water experience for not only children but for adult enjoyment as well, and using theming and design to capture and appeal to each audience." By combining fun active play, high-end architecture and adult upscale amenities, Mahoney said the ultimate resort-water experience was created.

Keeping the waterpark community connected is a mission of the not-for-profit World Waterpark Association (WWA), according to Aleatha Ezra, director of park member development. "We have members in more than 40 countries representing waterpark owners, operators, designers, developers and suppliers working in parks of all shapes and sizes." WWA provides its membership with the most comprehensive information on industry trends and best practices through in-person and online learning opportunities, as well as regular networking events.

Ezra explained that their educational content is often curated by members for members. Their popular online Webinar Wednesdays are archived, covering a wide variety of topics that improve safety, maintenance, training, marketing and operations. "WWA Online University also offers a variety of downloadable training courses to members at a low cost that enable them to provide additional training to their team members." WWA's annual Symposium & Trade Show features networking events and more than 100 speakers presenting in educational sessions, panels and roundtables. The trade show hosts more than 300 booths, and many designers and ride manufacturers will debut their latest innovations.

The trend toward municipal waterpark development continues to move ahead at a robust pace, according to Ezra. "As more and more traditional, flat-water pools age out, cities and counties are looking at the waterpark/aquatic center model as the next-level community service amenity."

She said designers are continuing to find new ways to create footprints that are pleasing to the eye, safe to manage and generate steady revenue. "And it's not just the smaller facilities that are coming onboard; many of the latest public-sector waterpark venues have substantial theming and a varied attraction mix that puts them in line with their privately-owned counterparts."

Mahoney points out that her company's popular surf simulator is featured in more than 30 municipal locations across the United States. "It's a great way to generate active participation and increase a park's age demographic—appealing to kids who may otherwise have outgrown the facility offerings. Offering additional attractions, like slides and wave pools, plus more active play allows them to compete with larger, private parks and offer a lower price point."

"More communities are continuing to follow the longstanding trend of developing waterparks and waterpark features within their aquatic centers," said Nachreiner. "A focus on recreation and entertaining the multigenerational family have proven to provide higher levels of cost recovery and increase participation rates in aquatics."

In fact, H&LA tell us that of the 33 waterparks that debuted in 2018, 16 of them were municipal facilities.