Springing into Summer
April 4, 2013
How Waterparks Prepare for Hot Temperatures Long Before They Arrive
When the summer swimming season ends, waterparks across the country don’t waste any time beginning preparations for the next year.
“Many of our guests are surprised to hear that although we have less than a 100-day operating season, we are actually a year-round operation,” said George Rohman, senior operations manager, Morey’s Piers Beachfront Waterparks, Wildwood, N.J. “Preparations for the following season often start the day we close, since the fall offers a few months of cooperative weather for repairs and maintenance. Therefore, we try to complete much of the general repair and maintenance work at that time.”
Morey’s Piers Beachfront Waterparks drains its pools and endless rivers immediately after closing and its maintenance and attractions teams begin performing comprehensive walkthroughs and inspections. “Pools, walkways and slide towers are inspected and a comprehensive punch list is generated and assigned for repair,” Rohman said. A majority of the painting and coating work is done in the spring, however, in order to maintain a fresh look for the summer season.
The waterpark’s visitation in 2012 was strong due to a relatively hot and dry weather pattern and a consistent local market that frequents the Jersey shore each summer, Rohman reported.
Inspections a Top Priority
Like Morey’s Piers Beachfront Waterparks, Wild West Water Works at Frontier City, Oklahoma City, Okla., jumps right into post-season preparations when the last guests leave the pool. Draining and inspecting the water/drain lines and pumps as well as cleaning all concrete and fiberglass with a power washer and detergent to remove calcium buildup is done right away, said Stephen Ball, general manager, Wild West Water Works at Frontier City. In addition, shade cloths and deck chairs are removed and stored indoors.
Pre-season preparations naturally follow a reverse procedure, but also include many additional tasks designed to protect the guest’s experience, Ball said. This includes cleaning flower beds and planting new annuals, power washing all walkways and decks, painting fences and handrails, and ensuring that all signage is posted and accurate.
Frontier City, a 55-year-old theme park located in central Oklahoma, added a new waterpark called Wild West Water Works in 2012. Attendance for 2012 increased 19 percent over the previous year, which Ball attributed to the opening of the waterpark.
White Water Bay, a sister park of Frontier City, also gets a jump on the next summer season as soon as hot summer temperatures fade away. “With approximately two million gallons of water at White Water Bay, it takes a few weeks to drain all the pools and winterize the park,” reported David Riddles, general manager, White Water Bay, Oklahoma City, Okla. “After that is completed, the focus is turned to the filtration plant.” White Water Bay utilizes a diatomaceous earth filtration plant that requires a lot of time and effort to break down, clean, and inspect. This process usually runs into late January. Then, reassembly of the filtration system begins. While all of this occurs, staff continues with safety inspections, painting and detailing the park for opening day.
Visitation at White Water Bay was up by approximately 3 percent in 2012, a record high. “The increase was due in part to aggressive marketing, great weather and new capital at Frontier City,” Riddles said.
At Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington, Texas, the end of the summer means it’s time to take stock of what’s on the premises. “During our off-season, our staff takes inventory of everything in the park, such as lounge chairs and umbrellas,” said Megan Fulbright, manager of operations, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. “Everything is counted, wrapped, covered and stacked for easy set up for the next season.” In November and December, pumps and motors are refurbished in order to be ready for the next year. In the winter months, new equipment and supplies such as tubes, rafts and life jackets are ordered. Structure painting and cleaning is also done in wintertime.
Cleaning and painting continue into the spring months, as does ordering operating supplies such as pool chemicals, Fulbright continued. In March, Hurricane Harbor holds its job and rehire fairs to begin staffing for the upcoming season. In April, department training sessions are held and staff begins to polish, shine and reset the park. Rides are inspected and tested as opening day approaches.
Let the Cleaning Begin
As soon as Roaring Springs Waterpark shuts down for the season, pools are drained and cleaned. “We remove any debris and then pressure wash the pools,” explained Frank Morandi, general manager, Roaring Springs Waterpark in Boise, Idaho. Come spring, it’s time to fix any maintenance and aesthetic (painting) issues. Simultaneously, all slide towers, bathroom/changing rooms and food facilities are cleaned, painted, checked for maintenance issues, and set up for operation. Additionally, park furniture is unwrapped and cleaned, tubes are inflated, signs are put back up, landscaping is done, and all concrete in the park is pressure washed.
Although 2012 saw 264,000 guests, which was up from 2011, poor air quality due to forest fires caused attendance to drop off in August and September, Morandi reported. -