Doswell, VA, USA — To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Kings Dominion updated and expanded its waterpark, now known as Soak City. As one of the primary goals for the redevelopment of the park, Kings Dominion wanted to create an appealing area for kids under 8 – a key demographic that was underserved by thrill rides and other offerings designed for teens at the park.
Kings Dominion chose to work with Vortex Aquatic Structures Intl to create Splash Island, a new area closer to the front of the main park that is filled with new offerings that enables Kings Dominion to expand its customer base while enhancing the experience for its existing clientele.
Splash Island is designed to encourage imaginative play for infants, toddlers and primary-school-aged children, and had to be closer to the entrance of the park (previously, families had to walk through a tunnel that went underneath a roller coaster to get to it).
“We wanted to expand the options for children, and the look-and-feel was very important,” said Katelyn Sherwood, PR & Communications Manager for Kings Dominion. “We wanted the designs and attractions to be whimsical and visually appealing, with bright colors.”The overall design for Splash Island also had to reinforce the concept that you’re on an island in the middle of a theme park.
Intended to provide a family friendly alternative to the intense thrill rides available in other parts of Soak City, Splash Island provides a range of developmental play to help infants go from solitary play to more social-oriented play as they get older.
Featuring a large Splashpad®, Splash Island has age-appropriate interactive attractions to create an imaginative play environment.Small slides for young children and multiple jets of streaming water that spray up from the ground as well as overhead keep children engaged.
Little ones can let their imaginations run wild as they get soaked underneath large cascading flowers, take a trip down a slide, or direct water that shoots out from one of the many Splashpad® play products.
The whimsical designs and bright colors that allow for imaginative play were critical to the success of the overall expansion, Sherwood said.
According to Scott Stefanc, Commercial Business Development Manager & Special Projects Creative Director at Vortex, Kings Dominion was looking different ways children could play with the water. “We enabled Splash Island to offer cascading water, dumping buckets, small slides, flowers, dumping bells – a lot of ways for guest to interact with water and other kids. Vortex attractions complement the other existing offerings at Soak City, achieving the overall goal for the redesign.”
Splash Island has three distinct areas, all intended to appeal to specific age groups (although children of all ages and abilities play with products in each of the areas).
The one for toddlers, age 1 through 3, haslow-profile, gentler water streams. These features allow toddlers to “develop more cognitive, solitary play to introduce the water on a one-on-one basis. They can take shelter when they want, touch the gentle water flow and sit next to our flowers,” Stefanc said, and whether they want to get wet or stay dry, parents can easily keep an eye on their children.”
The one for children, age 4 through 6, is designed for more social play, more high energy. “The
Elevations™ structure provides diverse play opportunities that scaled to slightly older kids. There are features that help them understand cause-and-affect. Children can see how they can change channels, re-divert water, and they can start working in teams to alter water flow from different products,” Stefanc said.
The section for kids, age 6 to 8, has more vertical elements. “It’s more of a family zone so that moms and dads and older kids can play together. There are more interactive features and more affects that require a team effort. As they cover the water spouts, it diverts more water to come out in different places,” Stefanc said, which teaches them social skills as they work together with other guests on having fun.
At the same time, Splash Island offers expanded pool-side cabanas where parents and other family members could relax, play, socialize and soak up the sun in lounge sections adjacent to the children’s play area.
Another important element to pick Vortex? The company’s built-in water-conservation features were “absolutely a factor in the decision to implement them,” Sherwood added.
The efficient water flow of the Vortex features reduced the overall demands on Splash Island’s water management system. This allowed Kings Dominion to use equipment such as more-efficient pumps and filters, reducing power consumption and the size of mechanical spaces required. The smaller mechanisms helped improve the design and implementation of the attractions.
Reaction has been very positive. “I work with a lot of mommy bloggers who come to our park. They keep telling us that the new areas are very visually appealing, and that the kids have a blast. What more could you want?” Sherwood said.