Rapids Water Park opened 33 years ago in 1979 with one ride, a
fiberglass slide called Old Yellar. Patrons paid by the hour to
ride a mat down the slide and splash into a landing pool.
How times have changed.
Today, the Riviera Beach, Fla.-based waterpark is the largest in
south Florida. Whether it’s the variety of attractions and
programs, the skilled staff or some of both, patrons keep this park
Over the years, The Rapids has expanded from five to more than
30 acres, with 35 water slides, a 25,000-square-foot wave pool, a
quarter-mile lazy river and its newest attraction, the Rapids
Racer. Installed in 2011, the Rapids Racer has won awards for the
Best New Ride from the World Water Park Association and the
International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions.
Dancing fountains, a lounge pool and a carousel provide
entertainment for the less adventurous.
Attractions are designed for all age groups — from
family-friendly to adrenaline chilling — and marketing
efforts reach across the surrounding area. Park advertising is
heard on 35 radio stations, and seen on 12 televisions stations and
three cable systems.
Operators run several contests and promotions, including dads
get in free on Father’s Day and moms don’t pay on
Mother’s Day. Appearances by popular characters SpongeBob
Squarepants and some of the Marvel Superheroes — and
celebrity athletes including members of the NFL Miami Dolphins,
Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, auto racing star Danica
Patrick, and Olympian Lindsey Vonn — also have drawn
As a testament to the quality of staff training and management,
numerous employees return year after year. Operators say employment
has become a “family tradition” for some, with
brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins working at The Rapids
each season. Staff retention programs are ongoing.
Lifeguards receive approximately 25 hours of orientation, and
there’s ongoing training of six hours per month for
lifeguards and EMT staff. Biweekly in-service trainings are
conducted to improve skills, build teamwork, and prepare staff for