Fun for All Ages: Splash Parks, Spray Grounds, and Wet and Dry Play

By Karen Appold
Guests of all ages can enjoy splash parks, spray ground features and dry park areas. The waterpark at Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort, a 385-acre family recreation destination in Hermitage, Tenn., features Kowabunga Beach, a giant water treehouse and spray ground. The attraction stands four stories tall and uses thousands of gallons of water in more than 70 interactive features including four water slides, a giant bucket that tips hundreds of gallons of water every few minutes, water jets, bridges, tunnels and dozens of other water elements. “Children of all ages and their parents love playing, sliding and splashing in thousands of gallons of water in the huge, multi-level structure,” said Daniel Strobel, director of marketing, Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort, Hermitage, Tenn.

Gregory Fuller, park director, Six Flags White Water in North Marietta, Ga. The park offers three wet play areas.

Barefootin’ Bay is a smaller, colorful water treehouse with more than 35 interactive water features, mini-slides and a tipping bucket to drench guests below. “Located in a children’s pool area, this attraction is a favorite for young guests who just aren’t quite ready for the big slides yet,” Strobel said. There are also two dry playgrounds for families staying in a cabin or at an RV site.

Located at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in Sandusky, Ohio, and Pocono Mountains, Pa., Bugs Burrow is an outdoor water play area especially designed for kids under 48 inches tall. “It gives guests the feeling that they’ve been shrunk down to the size of a bug with giant, colorful bugs and flowers around a water play area,” said Thatcher Robertson, corporate waterpark director. “Kids can splash, play and have fun on the slides and water swings in shallow water.”

LEGOLAND® Water Park – LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, in Winter Haven, Fla., has plenty of features around its Build-a-Raft river that spray guests as they go around. The park also has a water playground area called Joker Soaker equipped with multiple spray features, slides and a huge bucket that drops 300 gallons of water when it gets full. At the dry play area called Creative Cove, kids use LEGO® bricks to design a boat and race down the fast flowing waters at Build-A-Boat, said Raquel Arroyo, waterpark supervisor. Children can also play with regular DUPLO® bricks and more water features at Imagination Station.

Swings in a shallow water area at a Kalahari Resorts & Conventions location. The resort offers activities for all ages.

Six Flags White Water, North Marietta, Ga., offers three wet play areas. Buccaneer Bay has many wet play features such as a free-standing 25-foot tall ship with spray fountains, pop jets and static climb-on elements, said Gregory Fuller, park director, Six Flags White Water, North Marietta, Ga. Children can slide down into a water play area.

Skull Island is the waterpark’s newest renovated section just for kids. Featuring 100,000 square feet of water play space, it’s one of the largest interactive water playgrounds in the world. Kids can play on a huge themed abandoned pirate ship. “It’s a vibrant colorful wet play activity area with splash pads and dozens of interactive water features,” Fuller said.

Skull Island at Six Flags White Water. This is the newest renovated area at the park for kids and offers splash pads and dozens of interactive water features.

Finally, Captain Kids Cove is a splash activity area with four water slides that lead into a kiddie-size pool. There are more than 100 interactive games to play, including pipes spouting water, curtain waterfalls cascading down and some very small slides for very small children. “Everywhere you look, brightly-colored contraptions deliver water from one place to another,” Fuller said.

The Castaway Island Water Park at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., which opened in 2018, features a splash pad for infants and toddlers that’s approximately 1,000 square feet. It has a mushroom, banana and worm that spray guests as well as a palm tree with coconuts that fill with water and tip every 10 to 15 seconds. The splash pad’s cycle system contains 2,900 gallons of water, and ranges in depth from zero to eight inches. There’s a 48-inch height maximum; children must be accompanied by an adult, said Chris Nicoli, brand manager.
“It’s a place for young guests to cool off,” Nicoli said. “Parents can sit right with their small children.”

Benefits Abound
Playgrounds, splash parks and spray grounds offer a variety of benefits to patrons. “Typically, the entire family can enjoy them,” Strobel said. “Individuals of all ages can share in the fun which helps brings groups, friends and families together. Another benefit is that splash parks and spray grounds offer a cool and refreshing relief from hot summer days.”

Robertson said a variety of entertainment options provide something fun for kids ages two to 92. Kalahari Resorts & Conventions’ goal is to have entertainment for every family member, little ones included. “The benefit is providing a safe, shallow play area for kids who are not ready for the big slides yet,” he said. 

Arroyo said offering unique play areas gives guests more activity options as opposed to just swimming in the Build-A-Raft River or LEGO Wave Pool. “Our park is unique because we offer kids all the fun of play areas, and at the same time, they get to use their imagination and build with the multiple types of LEGO bricks around the park,” she said. “Playgrounds and water play areas like Joker Soaker are great for letting guests enjoy the benefits of a standard playground while staying cool in the hot Florida heat. They also help certain guests who may not be comfortable in large bodies of water enjoy the water park as well.”

For Fuller, offering playgrounds, splash parks and spray grounds at the waterpark provides a well-rounded experience. “Children can roam around areas designed just for them and enjoy the outside environment in a water park setting,” he said. Six Flags White Water had record-breaking attendance in 2018.

Views of Bugs Burrow at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions. This water attraction is offered in Sandusky, Ohio, and Pocono Mountains, Pa. and was especially designed for kids under 48 inches tall.

Diverse Demographics
The main demographic for Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort’s water treehouses is children under 12 years old, but parents enjoy playing with their children on the attractions as well, Strobel said. Kowabunga Beach appeals to older kids because it is multi-level and has bigger slides. Barefootin’ Bay is more geared to children six years old and younger.
Carl Crider, Jr., president and general manager of Laguna Splash at DelGrosso’s Park in Tipton, Pa., said water features can attract a wide demographic. Bambini Cove, which overlooks a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is a fun area for the youngest guests. The waterpark is Italian themed and includes interactive water features around the lazy river such as tipping wine barrels and water fountains. The waterpark averages 300,000 visitors annually.

LEGOLAND Water Park is built for children ages 2 to 12. Attendance has been trending up from previous years.

The demographic for Bugs Burrow is families with young children. 

A water play area at Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort. The location is always offering new attractions and entertainment options.

Planned Improvements to Play Areas
Both Bugs Burrow water play areas are newer introductions to Kalahari’s outdoor waterparks. “We are always introducing new attractions and upgrading existing attractions to offer the biggest and best entertainment for guests,” Robertson said.

Strobel said no major projects are currently planned, but they do perform annual maintenance including painting, replacing and updating various features, and other upkeep to ensure they are safe and enjoyable. These are done prior to the park’s opening.

Annual attendance at the Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort’s waterpark is approximately 300,000. “It has been trending up because we continually add new attractions and entertainment options,” Strobel said.

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