It may not have the amusement industry clout of Six Flags or the deep pockets of Disney, but if the industry accolades and attendance numbers are any indication, Colorado’s Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District operates one of the nation’s finest waterparks.

Hyland Hills Water World is perhaps the first publicly owned, full-sized waterpark. Opened in 1979 as a way to raise revenues, the park was the brainchild of longtime Executive Director Greg Mastriona and others.

It started with just a few slides and was so successful, a bond referendum was passed allowing it to grow, says Joann Saitta, Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District communications director. When the park opened for its 30th anniversary season this year, it spanned approximately 67 acres.

Today’s Water World includes a range of more than 40 attractions, many of which are designed family-style and include highly stylized theming.

In 2008, Water World is focusing on the family again, debuting the Big Top Family Fun Zone, a 3-acre, circus-themed area designed for parents, grandparents and children to enjoy together.

The mix of attractions alone give Water World some pretty strong credentials, but it’s also making strides in going green. Saitta says the park is trying to be a leader in water conservation.

“We recover a lot of the splash-out water [for use in] landscaping. And we switched from fountain drinks to bottle drinks, which saves 15,000 gallons of water annually [because there’s no need for ice],” she notes. Additionally, the park features artificial turf and water-wise landscaping.

OWNER: Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District


SIZE: 67 acres


SIGNATURE ATTRACTIONS: Voyage to the Center of the Earth

FUN FACT: With approximately 950 young people on staff each summer, Water World is the largest employer of youths in the Denver metro area. Overall, the park has provided 18,000 jobs to the area since opening.

NO. OF LIFEGUARDS:Approximately 300; 130 on duty at any given time