Making a Splash Without Getting Soaked
Splash Parks and Dry Play Areas at Waterparks

When twisty, wild, extreme water slides are a touch too turbulent, the convenience of splash parks adds to the thrill of a day at the waterpark. Likewise, those who crave a break from the water activities may appreciate the option of dry play areas. The implementation of these attractions at many waterparks has no doubt helped to increase visitation, by offering a new level of enjoyment to those who may have been looking for more out of their park experience.
At Full Blast Water Park, in Battle Creek, Mich., those interested in a less wild waterpark adventure can explore several areas. There is the giant, inflatable slide, basketball court, huge trampolines and a water balloon launch. “The dry play area is a popular part of our park,” said general manager, Jamie Brown. “The results of our surveys tell us that everyone is satisfied with these drier attractions but that they would still come to the park if we did not have it.”
Full Blast’s dry play area tends to attract children from ages 3-8, and parents are informed about the option to play here when they pay for their daily admission to the park.
The Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park, located at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., created several new areas for splash play after survey results indicated that guests were looking for more to do, besides the main attraction. According to special events manager, Chris Stutz, these additions have increased guest satisfaction tenfold and have added much to the overall guest experience.
“We have a playground called ‘The Treehouse,’ which is a three-story area where kids can play, splash and have a good time. It consists of 60 interactive play toys and four slides. There is also an infant play area, which is 6 inches deep and has some bouncy chairs for babies to sit and play,” said Stutz. “Everyone has been really happy with these areas. We cater to families here and the Treehouse area is not just for little kids. It really is a ton of fun and people of all ages seem to enjoy splashing around in there.”
The most popular attraction at Big Surf Waterpark, in Linn Creek, Mo., happens to be Tropical Splash Island, the splash park. “It is a really fun area for kids, with water levels ranging from 6 to 18 inches. It features a water teeter-totter, bikes, squirting animals, interactive toys that pull and squirt and some slides for the little ones,” said Missy McPheeters, business manager. “We also have some dry play options, which is perfect for those who need a break from all the water. Sometimes people just want a dry option, and that’s why we added these,” McPheeters said. The dry play options include a sandbox, small playground area, sand volleyball, half-court basketball, ping pong, billiards and shuffleboard.
At Tropical Splash Island, the playground and sandbox are most popular for toddlers up to age 6.
The other, more sports-oriented dry play areas attract a crowd that is a bit older, particularly those who are 12 and up.
Splashtown is a 10-acre waterpark at Darien Lake, in Rochester, N.Y. This park features many thrilling rides and slides and, at the center of it all, stands  the splash park, Hook’s Lagoon. This shallow water-play area features a structure where kids can climb nets, slide, play in the splash zones and enjoy the wading pool. “Hook’s Lagoon offers a place where the entire family can play together. The wading pool has a sloped entry, making it very accessible and Hook’s Hideout, the net climb structure, has only one entry/exit point, so parents feel comfortable letting their children explore,” said Kevin Lotter, director of operations.
This splash park is mostly popular with the families that are visiting Darien Lake. “About 80 percent of guests at Darien Lake are visiting as families, and most of these families have children under age 12. We know that these families use our website before making a decision to visit the park and we feature Hook’s Lagoon and all our family-friendly attractions prominently on our website,” Lotter stated. Darien Lake welcomes around 900,000 guests a year.
With over 1.1 million guests a year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, in Santa Claus, Ind., is always reinventing the wheel, to give guests the greatest experience they can have. For instance, the three current splash areas were installed at the park to provide park-goers with a bigger variety of play opportunities. “We have a splash pad in front of our kiddie pool, several spray features in front of one of our wave pools, a spray area in front of our Whitewater West treehouse and we will be adding a small, new splash pad for our 2013 season,” said Lori Gogel, director of waterpark attractions.
According to Gogel, the splash areas are most popular with children from toddler-age up to age 8. “The little ones enjoy it the most and the older children easily tire of the splash area attractions,” said Gogel. Patrons of the park are made aware of these extra features through social media, the park’s website, brochures and in-park signage.
For those looking for a splashing good time out in Denver, Colo., Hyland Hills Water World is a 64-acre waterpark with 49 water attractions. The park saw 537,824 guests in 2012, with the average customer spending about $32. Patrons visiting this park with young kids, who may be seeking a more family-friendly experience, have several options available. “We have three multifunctional play areas,” said Steve Loose, general manager. “One area is a heavily themed mini-waterpark for tiny tots called Wally World. There is also the Caribbean Family Adventure, which is an interactive water play structure and, finally, a circus-themed area that includes a zero-depth water funhouse called The Big Top Family Fun Zone.”
The first splash area for younger kids was constructed in 1987 and saw so much success that another structure was added in 1993. With continued success, the third was added in 2008. “There is a popular demand for these types of attractions and we like them because they fit in with our family-oriented park theme,” Loose said.
Each of these three attractions were designed to appeal to three different age groups. “One area is specifically for tots, another for those aged 4 to 8, and finally, the third is geared at kids aged 5 to 12. Each area allows for a progressively older child,” remarked Loose. The park’s customers are made aware of these attractions through several advertising efforts, such as parent magazines, park guides and public relations outreach to mom-oriented social media sites. –

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