In spite of the down economy, waterpark operators across the nation are optimistic that once the doors are open this summer, the crowds will come. Last summer, attendance held steady — or increased — at many waterparks, as consumers opted for “staycations” instead of big trips.
“Based on what we know now, we think we should have a good year,” Frank O’Connell general manager of Hersheypark told local media. Located in Hershey, Pa., the park will this summer debut The Shore, a new wave pool and the Intercoastal Waterway, a lazy river feature.
Hersheypark is one of a number of parks hoping to draw guests with new attractions.
Perhaps the most noteworthy is Pilgrims Plunge at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Ind. The $4.3 million ride, billed as the tallest waterpark ride in the world, is the second most expensive in the park’s 64-year history.
Other new attractions include: The Congo River Expedition, a family thrill ride at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in New Braunfels, Texas; UpSurge, a 216-foot-long waterslide at Splash Beach at Alabama Adventure in Bessemer, Ala.; Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, a new waterslide at Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe; Wahee Cyclone a new waterslide at Splash Island at Wild Adventures Water Park in Valdosta, Ga.; The Count's Splash Castle a multilevel play structure, the largest such attraction at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa.; and Wahoo Racer, a six-lane race slide at Six Flags St. Louis Hurricane Harbor in St. Louis.
Waterparks not unveiling new rides are hoping to bring the crowds with other attractions. These include Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora, Ohio, which has a new party cabana able to accommodate up to 30 people; and The Beach Waterpark in Mason, Ohio, hosting a 25th Anniversary concert series.