For several trend-setting cities, waterparks are this
season?s new must-haves.
As waterparks grow in popularity, the facilities are
emerging for the first time in metropolitan areas around
the United States. Many downtown and suburban areas
including New York and Chicago are
entertaining the idea, bringing the waterpark destination
resort a little closer to home.
?[Waterparks] are an excellent tool in terms of
downtown redevelopment and revitalization,? said
Jeff Coy, president of JLC Hospitality Consulting Inc. in
Cave Creek, Ariz. He noted that many cities are doing
riverfront redevelopment and including a waterpark as part
of the draw. Others are clearing industrial land and
converting former warehouses into hotels and waterparks as
Denver built a new park in its downtown in the 1990s.
With the package came Island Kingdom in 1997, one of the
nation?s first waterparks in an urban setting. Soon
after that, Six Flags took over, offering Denver residents
a chance to trade their skis in for inner tubes in
In 2008, New Yorkers will be able to hop the subway to
the city?s first waterpark. Situated on
Randall?s Island across the East River from
Manhattan, the $168 million project boasts indoor and
outdoor waterparks, providing citizens a leisurely getaway
without the hassle of traveling to the next nearest
facilities, located 11/2 hours away in New
Jersey and Pennsylvania.
?There?s nothing like this,?
said Jonathan Greengrass, vice president of the
Randall?s Island Sports Foundation in New York.
?I think the kids in New York City will be excited.
People really like traveling to visit these kinds of
facilities. To have one in your backyard is a real boon to
Designed by Aquatic Development Group in Cohoes, N.Y.,
the Randall?s Island project will offer a free swim
academy and free access to the parks for participants of
the Randall?s Island kids? program.
The Second City is experiencing its first waterparks as
well. Chicago?s Navy Pier, for instance, is
entertaining the idea of an indoor waterpark hotel as
proposed by Canadian designer Forrec Ltd. The waterpark
would be housed in what?s currently an exhibition
space, said Stephen Rhys, senior vice president of the
?Chicago has a growing resident base coming into
the central business area and there are a lot of tourists
out here. A lot of people are coming to use the waterfront
and shoreline,? he said.
The metropolitan Chicago area has been experiencing a
boom in waterparks. In Elmhurst, the Holiday Inn opened the
area?s first indoor waterpark hotel in April.
Rosemont broke ground in May on a redefined development and
convention center that includes the Grizzly Falls Resort,
an indoor waterpark resort and hotel. Elk Grove in the
northwest suburbs opened Rainbow Falls Waterpark to
visitors this summer.
While urban space is limited and expensive, it?s
really the customers who will determine the success of a
?You need a market base more than
anything,? Rhys said. ?Everything floats
from that because financials will be what drives that.
That?ll determine whether you can afford the land
and build the building.?