I’ve discovered in the last couple months that several of my friends have never been to a waterpark. Ever. And they live less than a two-hour drive from the Wisconsin Dells. If the annual TEA and AECOM attendance report is any indication, clearly my friends are in the minority. Waterparks are big business, and attendance, globally, continues to trek upward. Yet they still don’t manage to claim the popularity of their theme park brethren. Why is that?
Part of the reason, I suspect, is due to the nature of the beast. For starters, waterparks have a shorter season (at least in North America). And there are some people that just don’t like being in water. Maybe they can’t swim or are afraid of deep water, or perhaps they just don’t like the idea of being seen in public in a bathing suit. If you don’t like roller coasters or are afraid of heights, there’s still plenty to do at a theme park, but if you don’t like water, at a waterpark you’re out of luck. Some parks, like Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas (page 11), have attempted to remedy this by offering movie nights and other special entertainment.
But another fundamental issue that waterparks (and manufacturers) are finally addressing is the group factor (page 6). Single rider slides are fun, but they are exponentially more fun when you can experience them with your friends. Decades ago, I remember craving the times when someone rented out the local pool for a party, because that meant no lifeguard at the waterslide, and we could slide down side by side, or in a big chain. I doubt this still is allowed to happen anywhere.
Obviously, I’m not advocating for the repeal of safety standards. But the technology and engineering available to ride designers are allowing larger groups to experience rides together (page 18). We like to share things with one another. It’s part of the human condition.
Now we just need to work on making the slides longer…
Come visit us at our booth at WWA in Florida (Oct 1-2)!