By Jessica Leigh Brown
Waterpark guests crave thrills, new experiences and plenty of entertainment for the kids. What are the most popular attractions at waterparks this year, and what are the priorities for future additions?
Cascades Indoor Water Park in Cortland, N.Y., focuses on pleasing entire families with its array of attractions. A 41,000-square-foot indoor space, the park includes a wave pool, a three-story tube water slide, multiple body slides, a multi-level activity structure with deluge buckets, and multiple hot tubs. “Our most popular attractions are our indoor and outdoor hot tubs,” says Waterpark Manager Michael Souers. “In the winter, guests in the hot tub see the beautiful Greek Peak scenery outdoors while keeping warm.”
This year, Cascades is introducing a new amenity—rentable cabanas for guests. “Each one will be equipped with cable television, a refrigerator and safes,” Souers said. “Parents can hang out in the cabana and catch the game on TV while still keeping a close eye on the kids playing in the park just a few feet away. The cabanas are perfect for groups, wedding parties, bachelorette or bachelor parties and family gatherings.” Deliverable dining options will also be available at the cabanas.
At Family Kingdom Oceanfront Water Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C., families are also the target market. “The two thrilling slides we have are speed slides about 100 feet tall,” said General Manager Donald Sipes. “On our body slides and flumes, you can actually ride single or double with your child, friend, or spouse. Those seem to be our most popular attractions.” Sipes said the children’s area, which features eight slides and seven pools, is also very popular with guests, as is the sundeck that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Because the park is located on oceanfront property in downtown Myrtle Beach, space for expansion is limited, but Sipes and his team are always looking for ways to introduce new amenities in the existing space. “We’re hoping to get a tipping bucket in the near future,” he said.
A brand-new park in Canandaigua, N.Y., Roseland Wake Park, introduces a new kind of water attraction to the area. “We’re adjacent to Roseland Water Park, but the wake park has a separate entrance,” said Co-Owner Dan Fuller. “This type of park is a very unique and new endeavor for our region.”
The wake park features a full-sized cable system that pulls wakeboard riders at 18 miles per hour. “It’s suspended 26 feet above the water, and up to nine riders at a time are able to be pulled at wakeboard speed,” said Co-Owner Dave Clements. “Once the cable is started in the morning, it runs until we close in the evening, and riders are added as the cable is moving.” Roseland Wake Park also has a smaller cable system for training newbies. “It’s a two tower system that only runs back and forth and does stop,” said Clements. “We use it to coach people, teaching them from a still position to get up on a wakeboard or kneeboard. That way, they can take their time to graduate to a larger cable.”
Along the main cable route, Clements and his team have installed a number of obstacles that riders can choose to tackle. “They’re similar to snowboarding obstacles or sliders, and riders can elect to hit them if they want to or just ride by them,” Clements said. “We have eight right now and we’re going to rotate those and add to them to keep them fresh as time goes on.” The park offers one-on-one coaching sessions, wakeboarding stunt shows, and equipment rentals, inviting guests to try something new. “The wake park is for ages 5 and up, so it does encompass most of the family,” said Fuller. “These kids start with apprehension and a blank stare,” added Clements, who’s been a wakeboarding coach for 25 years. “When they’re successful after their first time, they’re just glowing.” For the youngest family members, though, Roseland Wake Park also features a floating playground with trampolines, slides, and jungle gyms.
Summer Waves Water Park in Jekyll Island, Ga., offers a variety of water park attractions in a natural setting. “We’re part of the beautiful Jekyll Island State Park,” said General Manager Steve Sharp. “It’s a family park right on the Intracoastal Waterway, with lots of shade, palm trees, and pretty views.” The park welcomes around 150,000 guests per year and features a splash pad with dumping buckets, body tube slides, and an enclosed five-story tube slide called Pirate’s Passage. “That is really our own thrill ride, and it’s a favorite with guests,” said Sharp. In the near future, Sharp hopes to renovate the kiddie pool area, but he’s determined to preserve the park’s integrity. “We don’t really want to go with the whistles and bells,” he said. “We want to stay true to the island, which is very historic. I just want to add a larger pool with slides for the kids.” Another future goal is to provide increased accessibility for disabled guests. “We’re proud of the improvements we’ve already made in that area, and will consider that aspect with any expansion.”
According to Sasha Mateer, general manager at Deep River Water Park in Crown Point, Ind., the park’s high-thrill, bowl-shaped rides are extremely popular. “Guests love our Double Dueling CannonBowl slides as well as our splash pad play structure,” said Mateer. “As for future expansions, we’re still looking and exploring different options.”