Supplement Feature - September 2020
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The Water's Fine!

What's New in Waterparks

By Dave Ramont

Expanding Opportunity

One design trend that Gerber mentioned is a focus on multi-purpose and multi-season use. "Finding creative solutions to utilize aquatic facilities that are outdoors into either shoulder season or year-round will provide an opportunity for added revenue and a unique experience at the facility."

She mentioned a recent project in Langley, British Columbia—the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Center. A circus theme is carried throughout the waterpark, which features a wave pool with a movie screen, a river channel with spray features, various waterslides, a splash pad, an adventure playground, interactive features, a social pool, a competition pool and more. And in the winter, the 25-meter lanes, lifestyle pool and hot tub will all remain open under a large wood canopy.

Generally speaking, other things that park operators are looking for include sustainability, durability, value and safety, according to Hazelbaker. Features that last. "Many of the spray park feature manufacturers create spray components that are interchangeable when budgets allow for updates and upgrades. There are also solutions for lower-cost flexibility in programming like lily pads and floatables. By changing these out from location to location or pool to pool, there's a fresh, new amenity for swimmers to climb and conquer."

With facility design, Gerber described how they look toward the next few decades, considering potential updates and upgrades, working with clients to understand when there is a possibility for phased additions to the aquatics area. "Whether that's the future construction of an outdoor park or simply planning a large enough slide platform and mechanical equipment to accommodate an additional waterslide as budget allows, front-end planning can make a tremendous impact on long-term park development."

With regard to refurbishing, Mahoney points to Kings Dominion Waterpark in Virginia. "Here we took an older wave pool and transformed the space into an all-new kids area called Coconut Shores. By reutilizing the existing footprint and equipment space, it allowed for tremendous cost savings when it came to the renovation. The new area was transformed into a 3,000-square-foot kids wave pool with playful one-foot tall waves and interactive splash elements, a 45-foot tall multi-level aqua play structure featuring hundreds of interactive elements and a new dining area as well."

Speaking of dining, Mahoney reminds us that out-of-water experiences are crucial too. "This includes everything from ensuring enough deck space, lounge chairs, shading and cabanas, to the amount and locations of food and beverage outlets, changing rooms and restrooms, even ticketing ques and parking access. Increasing length of stay and per-person in-park spend is extremely important."

"Concessions are important, but what is truly profitable for parks is birthday parties and pool reservations", said Hazelbaker, pointing out that everyone is anxious for private parties to return. "Rentable space is incredibly profitable for parks and now we're starting to consider how parks can utilize cabanas to provide distance between guests and to deliver additional revenue streams. We believe that might be a design trend that comes from the current pandemic situation—more deck and dry space to accommodate social distancing and potentially as a revenue source."