Las Vegas revels in Wet’n’Wild’s return to town (in a new location)
by Mitch Rily
Known for its nightlife and its high temperatures, Las Vegas has found a new way for visitors to spend their days and beat the heat. Opened the weekend of Memorial Day, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas features 41 acres of new rides for lounging locals and adventurous vacationers, and with a successful first season under their belt, the future is looking even wetter and wilder.
Though one of the most popular tourist locations in the world, Las Vegas has not always been well known for its family appeal. Las Vegas Boulevard (“The Strip”) was previously home to a Wet’n’Wild waterpark (Owned by Wet’n’Wild Co., operated by Palace Entertainment), that closed in 2004. When SPB Partners, a private equity fund under the direction of Las Vegas brothers Roger and Scott Bulloch, began looking into the concept of building a new waterpark in the area, local sentiment and business sense brought out two very important ideas: the new park should find its home off of the Strip, and the park should bring back the spirit and the moniker of the well-loved Wet’n’Wild park.
SPB Partners worked together with Village Roadshow Theme Parks, the largest theme park operator in Australia and owners of the Wet’n’Wild brand name, to develop a new park for a new generation of visitors and Las Vegas locals. Village Roadshow would act as the day-to-day operator and majority owner of the park, giving them a third U.S.-based water park under their operation, alongside Wet’n’Wild Hawaii and Wet’n’Wild Phoenix. Under a lease agreement with the Howard Hughes Corporation, LLC, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas found its new home within sight of the Strip but not on it – on the desert’s edge within a community that has continued to grow and thrive despite recent tough economic times.
In order to create a spectacle worthy of Las Vegas, the Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas team contracted entertainment industry experts and local professionals to design and build the new park. “We knew we wanted to bring the feeling of a southern Baja beach to the middle of the Nevada desert,” said designer Jayne McGuire, Creative Director for signage and exterior color selections on the project. “This allowed us to incorporate Cabo coastal colors inspired from the brightly painted talervera pottery of vases, geckos, frogs and flower pots, the soft dusty shades of perennials and cactus flowers, and the zesty richness of woven blankets and baskets onto the attractions, buildings, graphics and shade structures.”
Veteran waterslide manufacturer WhiteWater West became an integral part of the park’s development. “WhiteWater had identified Las Vegas as an untapped market for several years when we were approached by Roger and Scott Bulloch, who were interested in developing a major waterpark in the area,” said Geoff Chutter, WhiteWater President and CEO. “They were also wanting to partner with a serious and experienced operator. Village Roadshow and Tim Fisher (Village Roadshow CEO) were the obvious choice. We introduced the groups and the partnership was born.”
WhiteWater West designed and installed more than 25 slides and attractions for Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas, adding to their portfolio of approximately 5,000 projects. Included in the park’s new array of slides is North America’s first horizontal-rocking slide of its kind, appropriately named The Rattler. Engineered to fling a raft of riders up and down the walls of the ride, The Rattler sits right next to its snake-themed sibling, The Constrictor, the tight-turning corkscrew ride that leaves riders spinning by the time they reach their final splash down. Whether riders are looking for a heart-pounding plummet down the Canyon Cliffs, a pair of near-vertical drop slides, or a leisurely lounge along the Colorado Cooler, the lazy river that wraps around the family-friendly Paradise Falls multi-level play structure, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas has plenty of attractions for visitors of all ages.
To give guests the best opportunity to make the most of their time, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas has installed and implemented Lo-Q’s virtual queuing Q-bands. Branded “Xpress Bands,” the Q-band allows visitors willing to pay a premium to decrease their time spent standing in line (and the hot desert sun).
When visitors do find themselves in need of a break, the park is designed for relaxing downtime. Unique fiberglass molded umbrellas provide plenty of shady areas for the general public, but for the best way to kick back and cool down, over 30 hosted cabanas surround the Red Rock Bay wave pool and the Splash Island children’s area. Local Las Vegas company PHP Inc. provided nearly all the pool furniture, cabanas, tables and umbrellas for the park. “Comfortable furniture and durable shade protection is a must in the Las Vegas desert climate,” explained PHP Inc. President Eric Glaser. “We were able to match the right product lines to the needs of the demanding environment.”
For visitors looking to lock away everything except their sunscreen or sandals, two necessities in the hot Nevada sun, Smart Carte lockers are equipped with their new Locker Link system. Locker Link prints waterproof barcode wristbands to allow all-day locker entry, preventing guests from losing keys, and providing easy storage access for groups and individuals alike.
The dry climate is ideal for the effective use of mist cooling. Wet’n’Wild collaborated with MistAMERICA, a leader in outdoor comfort solutions, to transform every area of the park into a cool destination. Over 60 Skyspan shade structures, misters, and Mist360™ fans can be found throughout the park. The fans help guests remain cool and comfortable whether retrieving items from a locker, grabbing a bite to eat at the food court, or waiting to experience one of Wet’n’Wild’s 25 slides and attractions.
For families visiting Las Vegas who are looking for wholesome evening entertainment, Dive’n’Movies are shown outside the Red Rock Bay wave pool on select Friday nights. Kids and parents can swim up or lounge poolside to recent Hollywood hits at no additional cost to their general admission.
Community interest has been so high for the new park that, by the end of their opening day on May 25, 2013, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas capped their season pass sales to ensure the park was always able to provide the best possible experience for both pass holders and daily visitors. The OmniTicket Network, with over 400 sites and attractions across 24 countries, developed and hosts all of the park’s online ticketing, including season pass sales. OmniTicket also provided on-site ticketing software, turnstiles and a biometric identification system for season passes.
Current plans have the park open all week throughout the summer, and weekends until the end of September. Should the temperatures remain hot, the water remain cool, and the tourists to Las Vegas keep coming, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas may find itself in the right atmosphere to someday operate year-round. As the love for the park continues to grow, the lease for the land also allows for the option of expansion, leaving plenty of room for Las Vegas to become a bit more wet and wild. • • •
For more information about Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas, visit wetnwildlasvegas.com.