There’s a lot of talk about technology in the meetings and events industry. One area of technology that you may not be familiar with relates to waterparks and today’s designers.
According to Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development with the World Waterpark Association, today’s designers can create whatever type of attraction they can imagine. Which translates to added excitement for your attendees meeting at indoor/outdoor waterpark resorts
“Today, technology allows slides to follow any path imaginable,” said Ezra. “Ride designers have created technology that allows them to move riders up and down the slide path so they’re not limited to simply using the momentum derived in the past from starting out at the highest point of the ride.”
You may have also noticed the trend at many waterparks to merge their attractions. Wave pools, leisure rivers, slides, and kid’s areas that were once separate elements are now being tied together. “For example, many leisure rivers now offer wave elements and water spouts,” said Ezra. “At other parks, you can now float from one ride to another without ever having to stand in a queue. Fusion waterslides are becoming more and more standard.”
The waterpark industry is always evolving and now changes are being made based on the new technologies that are available.
What are some of the new, technologically advanced attractions guests can experience at waterparks throughout the Midwest? According to Ezra, some of the most exciting rides are similar to ones you will find in a traditional amusement park. “The twist with these waterpark rides, of course, is that they take place on the water,” she said. Jets of water, magnets, or conveyor belts move guests along on a raft for a ride that is similar to that of being on a roller coaster.
Bowl rides, like giant funnels, are another attraction getting more elaborate at waterparks. These rides start you off sliding down a chute or tube into the top of of the funnel where you swish around the inside before dropping down the middle into a splash pool or run-out.
Hurricane Vortex, a signature ride and guest favorite at KeyLime Cove in Gurnee, IL, is one such bowl ride.
“One or two riders drop 44 ft. and spin on a super-sized inner tube, exiting the Vortex at about 40 mph,” said Dave McFarland, General Manager, KeyLime Cove and CEO, Veracity Hospitality. “Many guests (particularly our younger guests) refer to this attraction as the toilet bowl!”
Flowboarding is one of the fastest growing board sports in the world and waterparks are utilizing this element as a central hub in their facility.
At Water Park of America in Bloomington, MN, you’ll find the Cascade Falls FlowRider. It works quite simply. “Pumps located in the equipment force water across the ride surface area creating a continuous wave with speeds up to 45 mph,” said Angela Reed, Director of Sales and Marketing, Water Park of America. “Surfers and boarders do have an advantage with never having to wait for a ‘swell’ because the waves just keep coming.”
These surf simulators can be found throughout the Midwest at waterpark resorts like Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, WI, and Sandusky, OH, Avalanche Bay in Boyne Falls, MI, and Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, WI.
Winter Water Fun
Anyone that’s been to a Midwest meeting in the winter knows it can be cold. Sometimes brutally cold. And many of these waterpark resorts feature slides that take riders outside. Don’t worry about your attendees getting frost bite though. These slides are completely encapsulated and heated water from the park flows through each one, absorbing the bitterly cold temperatures so riders never experience chills.
“At Water Park of America, our translucent slides were noted for the unique concept of taking riders outside, giving them amazing views soaring 90 ft. above the Twin Cities’ skyline,” said Reed. “Even though the waterpark was designed to celebrate Minnesota, we added a new climate zone to the map with 80 degree temperatures in the winter!”
Looking to the Future
With all the excitement around the advancement of waterpark rides, there is often pressure for waterpark resorts to add new attractions or additions every year or two. KeyLime Cove’s approach to these expectations has been to make many changes over the years to their arcade, adding mini-bowling, as well as guest amenities and street vendors (offered on Duval Street and in their Kids Club).
“Although we don’t currently have expansion plans, we continue to see high repeat visitors because we focus on the cleanliness and the safety of our waterpark and attractions,” said McFarland. “In addition to using an Ozone Purification program (leaving the water’s pH value the same as a human teardrop) and installing non-slip flooring throughout the waterpark, we have a dedicated cleaning and maintenance crew ensuring the attractions and equipment are all serviced before there is an issue, eliminating down time for our attractions and keeping pools and attractions at peak readiness.”
Waterpark resorts eagerly watch industry trends, looking for ways to enhance and expand the guest experience, leaving us all wondering, “What will they think of next?!”