When it?s 20 degrees out and the jingle bells
are ringing, the last place most people might think to
visit is an aquatics facility. But across the United
States, such venues are bringing in the crowds with popular
?Traditional theme parks have successfully
created profitable off-season events, so it seems like a
natural move for waterparks to follow suit,? said
Kim Schafer, COO of Great Wolf Resorts, an indoor waterpark
resort group headquartered in Madison, Wis.
Each Great Wolf location has put on a holiday event for
the past two years. This year?s event, Snowland, is
a family-focused affair running through December and
featuring a holiday story time, caroling and crafts. In
addition, ?snow? falls twice daily in the
Grand Lobby, and the resort?s popular duck races
are transformed into snowball races.
?Snowland taps into our mission statement and
helps promote our brand,? Schaefer said.
Perhaps one of the oldest and most unique
?aquatic holiday? events out there is
Holiday Fest at The Beach, a Cincinnati outdoor waterpark.
Started nine years ago as a way to increase season pass
sales, Holiday Fest is expected to draw approximately
45,000 guests this year. The 2007 Holiday Fest features
more than 25 miles of lights, ice skating on a converted
section of the park?s wave pool, a live nativity, a
petting zoo, shows, and toboggan rides down a frozen water
While many of The Beach?s summer staffers return
to work over the winter, Marketing Director Tara Nahrup
said it?s no small feat to winterize the park,
transforming its look and feel into a winter
?The major challenge is the 10-week time frame
in which we have to bring Holiday Fest to life,?
Nahrup said. ?We have to resurrect almost all of
our Holiday Fest attractions in this time which includes
building a 7,500-square-foot ice rink.?
In spite of the challenges, Nahrup said the event has
been quite successful. ?We have 11 full- time staff
members and a handful of part-time maintenance employees
who construct the event, and we?re lucky that they
can manage several facets of the business well.
There?s no other event like it in the
area,? she added. ?We?ve been able
to extend our operating season, and now December is another
core month of business for us.?
To boost winter use of the aquatics facilities, the
Kiwanis Recreation Center in Tempe, Ariz., has held
Swimming With Santa for the past two years, coordinated by
David Bucher, supervisor of Tempe parks and recreation, and
his staff. ?We?re open year ?round,
but we don?t have a large number of patrons using
the pool during the winter,? Bucher said.
The family-oriented event includes games, and snacks.
Santa himself joins in the fun, visiting and swimming with
?Many of the people who come to Swimming With
Santa are not regular visitors, so the event is an
opportunity to introduce new people to our
facility,? Bucher noted.
The Illinois Valley YMCA in Peru, Ill., also holds a
holiday event that includes a light brunch, games and pool
time with Santa, played by one of the center?s
lifeguards. ?People are surprised at how involved
he is,? said Kristi Brewer, aquatics director.
Brewer has done Swim With Santa, along with
?Pumpkins in the Pool? at Halloween and a
January luau, for the past few years and believes the
programs help market the facility.
?The events are great for families because they
can get out of the house and do something together along
with the community,? she said.