As the world’s only comic book playground, Chaos waterpark at Metropolis Resort is designed to thrill guests and encourage exploration and imagination.
The Metropolis Hotel opened in 2008 and Chaos Waterpark was
completed in 2009. From the beginning, operators wanted to stay
away from “been there, done that” resort theming. No
wildlife, outdoors, tropical getaway or Northwoods here. In the end
the design team came up with the unique comic book/superhero theme,
playing off the theme of the adjoining Action City, a
55,000-square-foot family entertainment center. The idea became
“mayhem city” and from there, alien tripods, train
wrecks, subways systems, tidal waves and other forms of destruction
came about. As the theme progressed, the concept of heroes versus
villains was born, the name Chaos was chosen, and the comic book
To incorporate the theme further, owner Mark Steil, commissioned
Twin Cities-based JT Murals to add to the imagery. The only
direction given was a desire for “destruction” and lots
of colors to keep your eyes moving. Based on that, the mural
designer came up with an “I spy”-type concept. That
means there’s no way you can see everything in just a glance
around the park. You can study the murals for hours and keep
finding new things. Nothing makes sense in Chaos and that’s
exactly what designers were striving for. Also, there are lots of
bright blues and greens to work with the lighting to make the park
bright and airy feeling.
Behind the scenes, this waterpark resort is revolutionary for
utilization of green-friendly innovations. To reduce water, heat
and chemical consumption, regenerative filters were selected. To
reduce natural gas consumption, pool water is heated with waste
heat from the hotel though an advanced heat recycling system. To
reduce energy required for heating and ventilation, an optical
population counter provides input to automatically modulate fan
speeds using variable frequency drives. This means ventilation is
adjusted based on the number of patrons, with a reduction in air
flow when fewer people are in the park.
The water treatment system circulates 950 gallons of water a
minute, providing treatment seven times above the industry
standard, making Chaos one of Wisconsin’s cleanest
waterparks, while reducing the amount of water wasted in the
process. Additionally, Energy Star™ equipment is used
whenever possible and low draw lighting delivers the same bright
spaces with much less energy used.
While it was always the intent to incorporate many green
technologies as part of the new hotel and waterpark, it was
definitely a trial to integrate the systems of the waterpark into
the previously built hotel. Getting all systems working correctly
can be a challenge in itself, but to “hook-up” to the
primary existing heating/cooling loop while creating as little
disruption as possible posed significant, additional challenges.
With the cooperation of the hotel and waterpark staff, and some
innovation and motivation, the technologies integrated smoothly
without disturbing the hotel guests.
In addition to environmenta sustainability, safety is another key
consideration at Metropolis Resort. The waterpark features a closed
cell flooring with a skid proof surface that is soft and
cushioning. This system, the first of its kind to be approved
through the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of
Commerce, is the first to be installed in the state of Wisconsin.
It has virtually eliminated poolside injuries and reduces the
insurance costs drastically.
Innovation did not end with the flooring and energy systems. The
owner had a completely custom-made play feature built on site.
Typically, such features are completely designed before
construction, allowing the state to appropriately review the system
in its entirely. Yet the innovative feature that was created was
the result of a lot of hard work between artists and engineers to
develop a unique feature that was eye-catching and yet appropriate
for use by the general public. Other attractions include a
400-foot-long lazy river, several waterslides, and a hot tub.
To make this project work, cost saving methods throughout
construction received much effort. Significant cost savings were
realized through local labor. Metropolis was built with much of its
labor coming from local sources. Many of those involved in the
project were located within a 20-mile radius of the site. Not only
was this environmentally friendly, but also promoted local jobs in
the area, keeping the community at work.
In developing Metropolis Resort, operators set out to fill a
need in the community. Today, the end result is an entertainment
complex, boutique hotel and 30,000 square foot indoor waterpark
that provides a memorable entertainment experience in Eau Claire.
NUTS & BOLTS
Total Construction Cost: $4 million
Aquatic space: 30,000 square feet
Dream amenities: Several waterslides, The Tsunami
River (lazy river), kiddie pool, hot tub and leisure pool
- Dream Designer: Ramaker & Associates
- Architect: Architectural Design Group
- Pool Contractor: Badger Swimpools Inc.
- Theming Contractor:ThemeScapes Inc.
- General Contractor: Steil Builders
- Aurora Pumps: Pumps
- Barry Thompson Innovations: Cleaners/vacuums
- BECS Technology: Chemical controllers
- JT Mural Painting & Restoration: Muralist
- Lochinvar Corp.: Heaters
- Nemato Corp.: Filters
- Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics: Lighting
- S.R. Smith: Ladders/grab bars
- Steil Builders: Enclosures
- ThemeScapes Inc.: Flooring, water-play equipment