Leaders in Aquatic Design Series Week 1: Aquatic Development Group 

Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Mountain Resort

Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Mountain Resort

Last month we took a brief look at the history of water parks, in celebration of the water park season being right around the corner. Now that summer is (almost) in full swing, we wanted to look towards what the broader aquatics industry is doing today, and what we might see in the future. One of the best ways to get a barometric read over the entirety of the aquatics industry, we thought, was sitting down and talking with the major architectural firms who are helping shape the industry by creating dynamic, innovative and landmark designs for aquatic environments around the world.

First in this series is David Keim, the Vice President of Business Development at Aquatic Development Group, who took the time to share his vision and his perspective on the future of aquatic design.

For a bit of backstory, David Keim started working in the aquatics field after he graduated from college with an engineering technology degree. He “... enjoy(s) [aquatics] very much. It’s a great opportunity to be involved in something where you can be creative and involved in part of the process of ultimately delivering... (and providing) people with a place to go to have fun. What better job than to deliver fun?”  

Aquatic Development Group has worked in many areas of the aquatic field. They’ve worked on projects like the Wave Generation Technology used in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Water World Waterpark (oft called “America’s Largest Family Waterpark), and six separate, unique Six Flags waterparks. In the 1960’s, the firm started building commercial pools, and has since positioned themselves as an expert in leisure and entertainment design and construction.

One of the design topics we wanted to dig a little deeper into with Keim was the firm’s unique approach to designing water parks. ADG is especially unique in its design approach in that the firm is a designer, builder, and equipment manufacturer. “Unlike most traditional design firms, we design only that which we build.” stated Keim. Keim pointed out that this type of approach to water park design is especially useful in “...delivering projects on a very compressed time-frame.” 

Another important facet of their design approach is in understanding and realizing their client’s business goals from the very beginning stages. “We look at design from a business perspective so that we can help our client build a successful water park business. That means looking at all components of design including guest experience and revenue generating opportunities… once business goals are structured and set, we can start integrating attractions that will help realize these goals.”

But not all projects are for new builds. In fact, many of ADG’s projects are for renovations, updates, and retrofits. “A lot of our work is expansion of existing parks,” said Keim when we asked him about the firm’s approach to redevelopment projects. “These types of projects are the most challenging because we have to work within the boundaries of the established space.” Kieim acknowledged that for many of the parks with expansion projects, the design goal is to keep the park relevant with the newest attractions and technologies that guests wish to experience.  

So if much of the work now is revamping and revitalizing established properties, where does Keim see the future of waterparks coming from? “From our perspective, the leading edge products and ideas in the waterpark industry are coming from the manufacturers and designers in North America and then going global. This is where water parks started so it really does make sense that so many of the best innovations in entertainment and aquatic design are born here in North America.”

And how does ADG see safety impacting these newest innovations? “We are ultimately in the aquatics business and in aquatics, safety is first and foremost. Safety of the patrons and guests. And while we design primarily for fun and entertainment, we make sure everything is with an eye towards guest safety.”

 Thank you to Aquatic Development Group and David Keim for spending time speaking with us about your design expertise and perspective!

Apples to Aggregate

This week’s blog post brings us to The Hustle’s recent article “The inexplicable rise of the Red Delicious” [x] and the Atlantic Daily’s 2014 article entitled “The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious” [x]. Both of which are excellent articles and bring up an interesting point. Red Delicious was the country’s most popular apple. By the 1980’s it made up 75% of Washington’s crop production. However, very few people actually like the Red Delicious. According to Orange Pippin’s flavor profile: “its chief characteristic is that it has almost no flavor at all.”

While there are many lessons that can be learned from the Red Delicious, the lesson we’d like to focus on is when a product becomes the default for the wrong reasons. The best selling fruit should not, as The Atlantic put it, become “the largest compost-maker in the country.” [x]  (My family used to go apple picking in the Hudson Valley every year. We never touched the things. Go for Empires or Honeycrisps. - Ed.)

The same problem influences plenty of other aspects of our lives: the QWERTY phone keyboard is still in use despite the two possible and outdated reasons it was designed this way, women’s clothing lacks pockets despite demand, and aquatic areas continue to use short-term solutions, such as concrete. Concrete looks good in theory, but the reality is, it wasn't made for many of the applications it gets used for (you know where we're going with this). In fact, the cement manufacturer All Garage Floor, said this about aggressive non-skid concrete coatings (in reference to slippery-when-wet garage floors):

“...this type of non-slip additive is not the most friendly to bare feet and skin. It’s aggressive nature can also create problems with catching mop strings and dirt when cleaning the floor…. It’s not the best floor surface either for young children that may trip and skin themselves on the floor.” [x]

For many of the same reasons it doesn’t make sense to buy apples no one wants to eat, it doesn’t make sense to have a floor that no one wants to walk on, is hard to clean, and can even cause abrasion injuries and concussions. You could say we’re partial to non-abrasive, impact-cushioned, slip-resistant flooring solutions for how people actually use aquatic areas.

And apple pie.

And this is just one of many reasons we're working with NSF-50 to create a flooring standard for splash pads. Better, safer products should be the standard.

Read our NSF-50 White Paper here.

National Water Safety Month

  Jakob Owens


Jakob Owens

May is National Water Safety Month! This educational program is a joint effort between the World Waterpark Association, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the American Red Cross, and the National Recreation & Park Association in order to educate the public on the best drowning prevention tactics.

Some safety tips per the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

  • Always swim with a buddy

  • Never leave a young child unattended near water

  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone (This includes puddle jumpers, believe it or not. My son loves those. -Ed.)

  • Establish water safety rules for your family and enforce them without fail.

  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.

  • Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

National Water Safety Month also encourages people to plan water safety fairs, participate in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, or facilitate water safety professionals visiting classrooms. There are free and low-cost resources available on the website for professionals, and educational safety tips for consumers as well.

We started Life Floor because we knew we could make aquatic areas safer for everyone. We focus on the area around the water, by reducing the chances of slip and falls, broken bones and concussions, but we care about what happens in the water, too. Accidental drowning is a worldwide problem, but one that can be mitigated by the hard work, education, and innovation of consumers and professionals alike. It’s initiatives like National Water Safety Month that provide communities with an opportunity to come together and pledge to create safe facilities, smart programs, and an informed public.

How are you going to celebrate National Water Safety Month?

5 New Waterpark Attractions to See this Summer

There’s nothing quite like hearing about new waterpark features, attractions, and innovations. There’s something magical about the high-speed launch into the new and exciting, spinning meaningful experiences that astonish guests, while still grounding itself in best safety practices and the legacy of the park. To celebrate the spirit of innovation, we’re taking a look at five new waterpark attractions opening in 2017 (in no particular order.. check them all out!).

Photo © 2017 Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

1Cedar Point

Sandusky Guests are spoiled for choice this summer as Cedar Point revamped their Soak City into the newly transformed 18-acre Cedar Point Shores Water Park. So named to celebrate their place on Lake Erie (we support this and most lake-theming endeavours). Not only are they rolling out new body and tube waterslides, they’re also including new family splash grounds, a revamp to their fan favorite rides, and new accommodations for overnight guests.

Photography © Kalahari Resorts LLC


Guests visiting the Sandusky, Ohio location are going to get their socks knocked off (Just as well, otherwise they’d get wet. - Ed.) five consecutive times with the roll-out of new waterslides coming to the outdoor portion of the park. Each slide offers its own twist, including near-vertical drops, weightless hang time, high banks, and 360 degree looping tunnels, which sound like a great way to add some summer flair to their already impressive indoor/outdoor selections.

Photography © 2017 Universal Studios

3. Volcano Bay

Perhaps one of the most anticipated projects for 2017, Universal will be rolling out their new state-of-the-art park. Opening May 25th, this park will have areas themed after various Polynesian islands and cultures as well as having a central signatural volcano that will feature, among other things, the Ko’okiri Slide, “the world’s first slide to travel through a pool filled with guests.” [x] Almost as exciting is the Tapu Tapu wristband which “promises to eliminate lines” by creating a “virtual queueing system” [x].

Photography © 2017 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

4. SeaWorld

IAAPA did a beautiful article about what SeaWorld has been up to in the last two years, but one of their big pushes for 2017 is creating a new breadth of experience by adding inventive rides. The company has rolled out one of the most extensive capital investment line-ups in its history. The San Antonio location has constructed the Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster, which is the first ride of its kind in North America. The ride aims to replicate the experience of animals being rescued [x], with the closely replicated cars mimicking the reality of jet-skiing over the waves.

Photography © Disney

5. Disney 

Typhoon Lagoon rolled out its first new ride in over a decade with Miss Adventure Falls. This fun, thematic, family raft ride is one of the longest flume rides in Orlando (with a delightful 2 minute ride time), with a unique-for-the-genre on-ride lift hill- so no carrying tubes up a stair tower, or waiting for tubes to be shuffled back up to the top of the tower. The ride opened March 12th as a great addition to the park’s offerings.

What new attraction are you looking forward to?