These days, anyone looking for the next big waterpark would be well
advised to start their search overseas. Development in the United
States is slow, thanks to the recession, but there’s a lot
Designers and manufacturers say the current hot spot seems to be
Asia, where waterpark attendance is going up, and several major new
parks opened recently, including the ChimeLong Water Park in
Guangzhou, China, which topped a million visitors in less than
three months — and the WaterCube Waterpark in Beijing, which
is on Waterparks + Resorts Today’s2011-2012
Along with interest from developers in China, Randy Mendioroz said
his company also is getting a lot of requests from Korea. And when
it comes to design, “they all want Las Vegas,” added
the principal at Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, Calif.
But it’s not just the Asian market that’s growing.
South America is going slide crazy as well.
“Just last week in Venezuela I visited five waterparks two of
them no older than three years,” said Paulina Reyes,
executive director in Latin America for the International
Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. “I would
say the good weather is an important factor, especially in the
north of South America, Central America and Mexico.”
Mendioroz said waterparks are generally doing well internationally
because it’s an easy entry into the amusement market.
However, breaking into these markets can be difficult. Mendioroz,
whose firm has been working on overseas projects for several years,
said learning to operate within a new business culture, logistical
issues with manufacturing and shipping materials, and, in some
cases, just negotiating government red tape and making the right
connections can be a challenge.
Then there are the unforeseen obstacles that can arise. A few years
ago, waterpark development didn’t get much hotter
than the Middle East, but that’s changed, partially due to
political unrest in the region.
Europe is another unique situation. The state of the market differs
from country to country said Jakob Wahl, programme manager, IAAPA
“Europe, other than Spain and Italy, is behind in terms of
the industry,” Wahl said. “But we expect more
waterparks to come.”
Like in the United States, some existing European waterparks have
benefited from the financial crisis as people decided to
“staycation,” Wahl added.
All told, it appears that the international market is poised for
continued growth. As long as the U.S. economy remains slow,
manufacturers and designers will continue seeking international
“Since 2008 we’ve seen a real drop in new development
in this country, so people have been forced to look elsewhere for
business,” Mendioroz said.