Betsy Kang, Director of Sales and Catering, Great Wolf Lodge, Mason, Ohio (above left): “Hosting an evening reception at a waterpark is a super way to engage and invigorate any meeting! From a luau theme complete with leis for attendees and a full buffet using the waterpark as the backdrop, to a fun teambuilding event complete with games and activities while enjoying a casual barbecue, a waterpark reception offers a great deal for any group. The spacious waterpark and warm temperature also provide an outdoor summer atmosphere for attendees all year round. If you can dream it up, we can assist!”
Kevin Shanley, Corporate Director - Sales, Kalahari Resorts, Sandusky, Ohio (above right): “There are a couple of top-line benefits for hosting a reception at a waterpark that come to mind. One is that it is an easy way to provide a venue that is family friendly (no worrying about children getting bored!) and very unique. The other benefit is that a major part of the entertainment, excitement and decor is built in to the venue. It is also very easy to build on what the waterpark venue provides to create an integrated theme for the event. We’ve had clients do everything from pool-side pig roasts, to traditional Luaus to grilling everything from steaks and seafood to burgers and brats. Depending on what exists at the venue, add a DJ (if one isn’t already on the job), some decor elements, and maybe floral arrangements and lighting treatments and you will have an incredibly memorable, authentic and vibrant event.”
More thoughts and ideas to get you started:
Choose another warm-weather theme location and incorporate everything from music to colors and food. Go with a south of the border theme and start with a casual sit-down dinner or a buffet with easy and fun items like margaritas, sizzling fajita stations and build your own taco bars. Hire local dance instructors to show your guests some traditional Mexican dances as a great way to get people moving and having fun.
Make it an interactive event. Use the reception as a start and end point to a scavenger hunt that takes your guests throughout the resort, indoors and out (weather permitting), culminating with some fun prizes for the top teams.
Consider stations with adult and/or family friendly craft or culinary activities such as decorating flip-flops, make-your-own pizza stations or build-your-own kabobs (You can do main entrees and/or less intensive dessert kabobs with fruit and sweets).
A cocktail hour around the waterpark with lighting around the pool or under translucent tables provides a glowing effect and a great lead into a larger reception/ceremony.
Do a luau theme and have your guests make their own leis when they arrive. Have personnel available to teach guests a simple traditional Hawaiian dance complete with authentic music and a pig roast
Plan a traditional Americana feast with some twists:
Mix up a standard BBQ by creating a full-on theme through easy and inexpensive décor. Go all out red, white and blue with vintage accessories as props.
Create an interesting make-your-own slider bar and let people experiment borrowing from the pages of today’s foodies with unique toppings in addition to the basics. Try blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, feta cheese and a variety of greens.
Have the hotel create or provide ingredients with recipes for unusual condiments and use local specialty items (ask your hotel staff for suggestions and ideas).
Many resorts have ice cream machines; bring one to the reception for an easy and delicious dessert station with hot fudge and other toppings for people to make their own concoctions.
Put place cards with suggestions for the sliders and even the desserts to help people get started.
Have the DJ spin classic American summer tunes from a specific decade and incorporate that into your theme or ask attendees ahead of time what their favorite summer songs are and create a mix to play during the reception.
Provide some hula hoops to get people moving after dinner.
Waterparks offer limitless opportunities to take your reception to the next level. By incorporating any number of these thoughts and ideas, you can be sure your attendees will have a memorable time.