If industry Zeitgeist is to be believed, the year 2012 is going to be a good one for aquatics.
Financing is still tight and no one is expecting an economic
miracle, but based on their experiences at industry events in fall
2011, many designers and manufacturers anticipate more business
Several industry professionals reported that international
waterpark development is still strong, particularly in Asia.
“As long as I’m willing to travel, there’s
business,” said Scott Cook, president of Family Fun Corp.,
based in Louisville, Ohio.
Here in the United States, it appears that more existing parks are
looking to expand and upgrade.
“For the last few years it was ‘just keep me
open,’” said Ryan Norris, waterpark sales manager at
Denver-based PurePlay. “Now it’s ‘let me do a
little something [to enhance my waterpark].’”
For most, that means refurbishing an existing attraction, or adding
some bells and whistles, but there are some large expansion
projects happening domestically. These include the
multimillion-dollar renovation at Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells,
Wis.; an expansion at Soak City Kings Island in Mason, Ohio; and
Aquatica Texas, set to open at SeaWorld San Antonio in May.
Kings Island will open a $10 million waterpark expansion this
spring, and the Kalahari Resort renovation, which officially opened
last month, includes a new slide complex featuring the first indoor
SuperLOOP water slide in the nation.
Clearly, those projects are already under way, and the true
indications for how 2012 will shape up will depend on deals closed
in the first quarter, said Penny Peavler, brand development and
marketing director at Weber Group in Sellersburg, Ind. “At
this point, we’re really talking about 2013,” she
noted, “since planning and construction take
Two key factors likely to influence business in 2012 and beyond are
technology and the Model Aquatic Health Code.
There are now more ways than ever to enhance existing rides, thanks
to options such as programmable lighting and sound systems. And
with social media and other online tools, operators have more
opportunities than ever to get creative with their marketing and
guest experience. The Model Aquatic Health Code, an initiative
spearheaded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
likely will see completion in 2012.
It is an effort to create a uniform code that states and local
agencies can adopt in whole or in part, which could potentially
mean new regulations in some areas.