Sohret Pakis of Polin Waterparks talks about the new Stingray attraction and the industry
interview by Martin Palicki
As the attractions industry begins to resume in-person events and trade shows, InPark turned to Sohret Pakis, Polin Waterparks’ Director of Marketing & Communications for more information on how the company is doing and what things they will be presenting at WWA, IAAPA and other industry events.
Are you seeing strong recovery in the waterpark sector?
It’s been a challenging time for everyone in the industry. But we’re very optimistic, and we see recovery. We have been keeping busy with our clients around the globe and continue to develop new slides and technologies, even throughout the recent tough times.
Some waterparks did comparatively well even in 2020 – they had the good fortune to be able to open in time to capture peak season. But I think another reason our industry will resurge quickly is that waterparks naturally place high priority on hygiene and clean operations, so they were already in a good position to address the concerns that come with a pandemic.
Waterparks have a higher profile nowadays, with developers and operators recognizing their value and versatility more and more. They can take the form of leisure destinations with unique features, combining spa luxury with family fun. They can be differentiators and brand-builders for hotels and integrated resorts. As second or third gates for theme park complexes, waterparks add variety and motivate guests to stay longer. They also integrate well with malls, aquariums, marine parks and zoos. And then there’s the trend toward developing indoor waterparks or adding a substantial indoor component to a waterpark in order to extend the season. Bringing the waterpark indoors also expands the potential site locations.
Another benefit is that the capital outlay and time to ROI are generally less than that of a theme park.
Water is just a universal theme and attraction in all parts of the world – and water experiences are our specialty.
Tell us about Polin’s new Stingray attraction and how parks can make it their own.
We are pleased and proud to announce the new Stingray dueling waterslides. The Stingray is a high-capacity, customizable attraction in a small footprint that promises to become an instant icon in any venue. It has four different tube slides weaving in and out of the same structure and interacting with one another in unique ways. The enclosed flumes culminate in two gigantic bowls before guests race to the end. The two bowls contain two unique paths in each – one that is larger, faster and more exhilarating and one that is smaller, dynamic and entertaining.
The different ride experiences are impacted by the guests’ choice of lane and the combination of rider weights, making the ride quite repeatable. The bowl experiences at the end of the ride are set up in a mirror fashion so one side looks like the other and riders will appear as though they are coasting along the stingray’s back.
We designed it to look like a giant stingray you would find in the ocean, but the Stingray can be themed in any way the client would like. We think it’s really important for parks to have a wide variety of rides to choose from, and what better way to make those rides stand out than with a dramatic theme and decoration? Even though the design was inspired by a stingray, it doesn’t have to be ocean- or animal-themed. Our in-house fiberglass studios can create any theme to fit in with any waterpark – and this is well demonstrated in the many different ways that our King Cobra has been themed over the years. In many ways Stingray is very much in line with the King Cobra attraction, which has been celebrated many times through the years. We think operators will embrace Stingray with the same kind of enthusiasm.
The introduction of King Cobra marked a turning point for Polin. What has made it such an outstanding success for the company?
King Cobra was one of our first iconic signature slides when it debuted in 2010. The design was patented and, with installations around the world, has won awards consistently year after year, including a first-place European Star Award in 2020. It successfully brings together a dual racing tube slide in a compact package with intricate theming that attracts a lot of attention.
King Cobra demonstrates how a water attraction can be a popular visual spectacle and unique storytelling element for a park as well as a great ride.
While we initially designed King Cobra with a snake theme, it’s incredibly versatile in terms of the look it can have via custom theming. In the past decade since it was first introduced it has been themed as various cartoon characters, as other animals and even a sailing ship. At Texas Water World, it became “Cobradillo” with an armadillo theme.
I think these elements (visually distinctive, racing, thrilling) are things that King Cobra also shares with Stingray and will also make this new slide popular for waterparks.
Tell us more about Stingray’s potential for customization and integrated technology.
It is designed to be built for both indoor and outdoor waterparks. It can be built with our “Natural Light Effects” which allows light to stream into the tube through translucent colored stripes and our “Special Pattern Effects” which allows different patterns and designs on the surface of the slide. For example, it could be designed to look like granite, as though riders were sliding through a channel carved out of a mountain.
Stingray also comes with a suite of special effects. Guests will hear the sound of the Stingray’s wings flying through water as they spin inside the huge inner bowl. In the outer bowl, which is more enclosed, guests will explore the dark and mysterious ocean with a sound and light show. This contrast in special effects further sets the experience of the two paths apart.
Finally, it can also be outfitted with our VR applications, allowing guests to enjoy a completely new themed ride experience every time.
We’re looking forward to seeing how operators and designers make it their own.
Do you think more waterparks should be integrating theming and storytelling?
It is certainly a trend that has been accelerating in recent years, and Polin has been a leader in bringing themed attractions into the waterpark space. For a long time, with only a few exceptions, waterparks were mostly a collection of fiberglass and concrete structures with very little attention paid to the theme or story of a park. That is no longer the case, and as competition increases, theming is a distinctive way to differentiate one park or attraction from another. I’m particularly proud of our work on Land of Legends in Antalya, Turkey, which really did a wonderful job of blending that theme park environment with a waterpark. [see “Turkish Splash,” InPark Magazine issue #64, 2016]
For our part, we invest heavily in R&D and in developing new technologies [see sidebar: A History of Innovation] that elevate and differentiate the slide experience for guests. I’m amazed by the creativity our team brings to projects and their willingness to explore new concepts and ideas. I think that is reflected in our catalogue of products and our variety of projects.
What other technology is Polin working on?
Part of what helped us make such a visually appealing attraction like Stingray is our new UTEXTURE technology that allows theming and designs to be created directly in the material as the slide is being made. As you know, Polin was instrumental in developing the LRTM (Light Resin Transfer Molding) process of waterslide construction and we have continually added ways to improve the slide experience for guests.
UTEXTURE allows park owners and designers to essentially create any kind of design and embed it in the slide. The images can be seen on the inside and outside of the slide. It could look like wood, honeycomb, graffiti, brick, just about anything.
How does the UTEXTURE process work?
UTEXTURE is based on the new generation VARTM (Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding) production technique. However, UTEXTURE can be applied to any composite manufacturing process, such as hand lay-up or RTM.
In addition to the unlimited theming possibilities, UTEXTURE is durable against UV and pool chemicals and features a glossy finish.
Will you be bringing samples to IAAPA Expo in 2021?
Yes, Polin will be exhibiting at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando in November 2021. We will have a model of Stingray and samples of the UTEXTURE technology. We are happy to share more information to attendees during the show. To set up a meeting or to arrange a virtual demonstration email [email protected] • • •
Polin: A history of innovation
Polin Waterparks is proud to be recognized as one of the few research and development (R&D) centers in Turkey and the first firm to receive certification as an official R&D center in its sector. Here are some highlights of Polin’s R&D innovation over the past 15 years:
2006: L-RTM technology, a new way to create waterslides
2007: Translucent RTM technology, allowing light to shine into waterslide tubes
2008: Natural Lights and Special Patterns, different translucent panels and patterns built into the slide
2010: King Cobra, a highly themed waterslide experience
2012: Magic Sphere, Spheres & Space Shuttle, new components for hybrid waterslides
2013: Next Generation water-play structures
2014: Slide’n Roll technology, music systems for waterslides using the slide as a speaker
2015: New art options for waterslide design
2016: Game Technologies division, merging gaming with waterplay experiences.
2017: Splash VR, a virtual-reality experience for waterpark guests that does not impact the structure of existing waterslides
2019: Time Rider, a themed, multi-path slide tower giving riders different experiences every time
2021: New Stingray attraction and UTEXTURE technology •