In writing this 2018 Trends series, we noticed an overarching theme: water parks are designing, renovating, and building their attractions to reach larger and more diverse audiences. This week we're discussing how both established parks and new parks are also focusing on making parks accessible to accommodate guests of all abilities.
Franchising intellectual property is a huge trend across all forms of entertainment: movies are creating interconnected, cinematic universes, major video game franchises have had new or re-released games in the last few years, and TV shows are reviving nostalgic favorites.
In the US, the Waterpark industry is over 60 years old. Every year tourist destination water parks need to innovate and expand in order to keep brand presence strong, ticket sales high, and guests returning season after season.
Americans spend a cumulative total of 37 billion hours waiting in line per year. Nobody loves standing in line, especially at a water park, but a bad queue doesn't just bore guests: it leaves them frustrated and ready to leave.
Use the following tips to make any water park line worth waiting in:
Last week we discussed the Research and Development that went into the Cedarcrest Park splash pad this past summer. Life Floor makes splash pads safer, with non-abrasive slip resistance and impact cushioning, but when it comes to splash pad design, we've also found that something doesn’t have to spray water in order to be a feature.
For years, Ripple has been our most slip-resisting texture and our best-selling product. All over the world, people trust Life Floor’s Ripple to perform where everything else has failed, and Ripple delivers.
There are likely somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 splash pads in the U.S., a number that is growing by an estimated 5-10 percent per year. A few seasons ago, we wrote a blog about how to design a splash pad and the best ways to make sure your splash pad, splash deck, spray ground, aquatic play pad, rain deck, spray deck, spray pad, spray pool, and spray zone stands out above the crowd.
There is no question that lifeguards vastly reduce swimming casualties. The United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) has calculated that the chances a swimmer may drown attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million. According to the International Life Saving Federation (ILSF) “Most drownings happen in environments and during activities unsupervised by lifeguards. And the great majority of drownings occur in circumstances where the victim has no intention of going into the water.” [x]
Since 1985, when developers built the world’s first indoor waterpark at West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, the indoor waterpark market has enjoyed steady growth. According to Hotel & Leisure Advisors, indoor waterpark resorts, while not seeing the same boom in expansion as outdoor facilities, have had continued to increase in both the municipal and private segments. Europe built Blackpool in 1986, and Wisconsin Dells’ Polynesian Resort Hotel opened in 1994.
In the third installment of the series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin Post, a principal at Counsilman-Hunsaker. Kevin Post leads the operations division of the firm, and is also the former Aquatics Director at the University of Texas. “All of the facilities I worked at were designed by Counsilman-Hunsaker. As I went through my career, I knew I wanted to focus on aquatics, and so the transition was natural for me.”
In the second installment of the series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dennis Berkshire, President of Aquatic Design Group. For a bit of background, Aquatic Design Group has been designing in the aquatics industry since 1980, specializes in ”competition, recreation, leisure, therapy, ornamental and natural water features,” and has worked on projects across 35 states and 25 countries. [x]
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.
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.)
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.
They’ve got a few different names: slide pads, water entry landing pads, safety pads, crash pads, and slide exit pads. We can probably agree that the cushion at the end of a slide is not the most exciting part of your park. In fact, slide pads are a lot like light bulbs: you only think about them when they stop working.
The U.S. has one of the largest and most concentrated water park markets in the world, with over 1,200 water parks and new parks introduced each year. We love water parks: the thrill of heart-stopping waterslides, the mini vacation of drifting down a lazy river, and the singular joy of watching our kids explore water playgrounds and splash pads. But as we know, water parks walk a very careful line of safety when offering guests a place to have fun and a place to cool down in the water.
Despite our spring snow flurry, we’re excited about the water park season just around the corner. This will be our first season with the Kelly Ogle Memorial Safety Award under our belt and we wanted to take a minute to showcase some of the winners from previous years.
The safety revolution that transformed dry playgrounds is long overdue for splash pads. We believe that creating similar standards for splash pads will reduce injuries and provide a significant benefit to public health, thereby creating a safer future for aquatic recreation, for our families, and for our communities.
From the beginning, splash pads have often been built adjacent to, or even on top of, public pools and wading pools, and so they have traditionally maintained the hard concrete “floors” of these pools. However, the practice of treating splash pads as a literal extension of the pool category is both inaccurate and dangerous. Even if splash pads began in the pool and fountain space, they have developed beyond those categories and now require a different set of safety regulations.
Playgrounds and splash pads are used in remarkably similar ways: children climb, run, and jump as they interact with play features. The major difference between splash pads and dry playgrounds is the presence of water. In other words, splash pads are simply playgrounds + water. As a result, they share some similar safety concerns.