When one thinks of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, long stretches of beach and coastal tranquility sprinkled with a rich aviation and boating history often come to mind. This unique summer destination resort area, nestled halfway up the Eastern seaboard, draws visitors from as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida. Rich with its own undeniable charm and Southern hospitality, this setting was carefully taken into consideration when a 40-acre waterpark development was proposed.
The new, $46 million H2OBX Waterpark broke ground on October 25, 2016 and opened to an outpouring of public support on June 22, 2017. An expedited construction schedule was under the careful watch of Aquatic Development Group (ADG) – a premier waterpark design/build company based in the US – with Owners Ken Ellis & Arthur Berry III of Camelback Resort; Tim Gantz, previous owner of Noah’s Ark; and Jeff Malarney, a local attorney.
Ellis, Berry, Gantz and Malarney each brought substantial experience in their respective fields; waterpark development, planning, operations and market tourism.
Ellis, who is president and CEO of ADG, is also coowner with Berry of Camelback Resort (home to Aquatopia indoor waterpark and Camelbeach outdoor waterpark). Gantz is the former owner and operator of Noah’s Ark, which is billed as America’s Largest Outdoor Waterpark. Malarney, former Navy JAGC, has been intimately involved in the North Carolina vacation rental industry, recently serving two terms on the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. He is an Outer Banks resident and practicing attorney.
H2OBX sets a new benchmark in Carolina coastal tourism attractions. It will be experienced by hundreds of thousands of families who vacation in the Tide Water and Outer Banks regions. A parcel was identified that would allow a large percentage of vehicles entering the resort area to pass directly in front of the waterpark, thus forming instant awareness and a front row seat to its vibrant colors and attractions.
As the lead developer on the project, and working with the renowned Weber Group, ADG carefully designed and themed H2OBX to embrace the culture of the Outer Banks. Seeking to incorporate those feelings of tranquility and relaxation tourists expect to find in the Outer Banks, they developed a relaxed and scenic setting that also includes adventure elements. Vacationers, families and waterpark enthusiasts will be immersed in the rich history of coastal Carolina as H2OBX pays tribute to legendary pirates, boat building and the Wright brothers, while enjoying modern amenities and exhilarating new attractions.
H2OBX features an innovative park layout that makes it feel more like a private beach club than the typical waterpark. “This reflects the guest experience that the owners wanted to deliver,” said Jim Dunn, Executive Vice President for ADG. “By marrying the right mix of thrill and family fun attractions that guests expect from a waterpark, with wide access paths and shaded deck space, we were able to provide seating areas with 50 ‘funbrellas’ and 50 additional cabanas for a more relaxed, resort feel.”
H2OBX delivers enhanced popular attractions as well as several first-to-market slides and experiences, all
providing varying degrees of thrills, lengths, drops, turns and intensity suitable for guests of all ages. Many of the attractions at H2OBX offer cutting-edge innovation. Dynamic slides were chosen from WhiteWater West and other cutting-edge attractions like Aquatic Development Group’s Twin Tides Wave Pool. This unique attraction delivers the ocean-simulated current, tide and waves that guests love, but unlike traditional wave pools, it features “dual beachfront” entrance points on opposite ends. Our innovative, new Adventure Lagoon is also a highlight, featuring climb, crawl and balance soft mat obstacles and swim zones.
“We take great pride in having the opportunity to deliver the most progressive and exciting attractions to open on the Outer Banks in decades,” said Brian Czarnecki, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “We are thrilled to be welcoming loyal Outer Banks guests from so many states and are honored to be a part of their summer plans and vacation memories.”
Attendance, ticketing and data management strategies were considered and designed with attention to detail and the latest technologies for marketing and customer service. H2OBX partnered with the leading Vacation Rental Agencies, who manage a total of more than 8,000 homes, and welcome a carousel of over 125,000 new visitors every week. Individualized ticket links were established with a programmed share of the sale so that the agencies could market directly to their summer renters, and metrics could show the number of tickets sold by each partner. In addition, over 20 local hoteliers and camp grounds were offered a percentage of ticket sales by selling through their own individual ticket links.
All in all, it has been an extraordinary and unique project. H2OBX developer Ellis said, “As someone personally involved and with a vested interest in H2OBX water park, I’m extremely proud of the talented and diligent team at ADG and the work put forth by so many others. H2OBX is incredibly innovative because we had the full force of the industry’s best people behind it.” •
Jessica Mahoney is the Marketing Manager for Aquatic Development Group (ADG), a leading designer and developer of aquatic attractions and waterparks in North America. For more information about ADG, visit www.aquaticgroup.com
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