The waterpark industry is growing fast with themed
resort installations, a popular weekend destination for
families within driving distances. Since 2000, the indoor
waterpark resort market has grown from $700 million to $4.8
billion in 2007, according to The New York Times.
And since 2002, the number of indoor hotel waterparks
increased more than 3-1/2 times, according to a report by
Jeff Coy and Bill Haralson, hospitality consultants.
That growth is spilling into single-family homes and
residential developments. Builders say they?re
adding more and more features to backyard pools that once
were only found at thrill-packed waterparks. Slides,
waterfalls, rockwork, beach entries, tanning benches and
splash fountains are all favorite waterpark features being
added to residential pools. Experts say manufacturers
already have capitalized on such add-ons, as illustrated by
slide makers, whose product is the crux of the waterpark
It?s not hard to see where the inspiration for
the backyard slide came from: Its popularity on the
playground made it a shoo-in for residential applications,
and the same thing is happening with water slides in
backyard pools. However, the slides are more sophisticated
and varied, according to Judith Leblein Josephs, operations
analyst at Water Technology Inc., a waterpark designer in
Beaver Dam, Wis.
Having the entertainment at home also makes it easier
for parents to watch the kids rather than worry about what
they?re doing at a shopping mall.
?People are getting tired of going to their
weekend homes only to mow the lawn and spend half of the
time unpacking and working, leaving them just one day to
enjoy,? said Peter Simon, senior designer in
commercial sales at Neuman Pools Inc. in Beaver Dam, Wis.
?They finally say, ?To hell with it.
Let?s spend some of this money in our
Builders say consumers often ask to incorporate a
feature they saw at a recent waterpark or resort visit.
?I get a lot of requests: ?Can you make
these waves like in the wave pool, or can you do this or
that??? said Sean Shiers, president/owner
of Pooltime Services Inc. in Lake Worth, Fla. One of his
clients requested a 135-foot lazy river ride for a high-end
residential project. The elaborate aquascape includes
simulated white-water rapids and a 12-foot-high,
all-mosaic-tile slide placed in the middle of a rock
waterfall. Plus, the client?s children can slip out
of their third-story bedroom window down a tube slide into
The waterpark trend is weaving its way into the condo
and homeowners? association market as well, said
Sonia Traugott, co-owner of Sunset Pools Inc. in Katy,
Texas. She noted that apartment complexes and real estate
subdivisions with shared neighborhood pools are installing
waterpark-type pools, inspired by all the bells and
whistles found in the commercial sector. Visiting
homeowners often take the ideas they see at these complexes
and incorporate them into their own backyards.
Even customers who budget for a low-cost pool request
waterfeatures. Josephs said with today?s pools,
people will buy whatever they can afford. In fact, pool
builders often suggest that a small, extra investment will
make a difference in the long run for homeowners.
?It?s about what you want to afford, not
what can you afford,? said Michael Giannamore, vice
president of Aqua Pool & Patio Inc. in East Windsor,
Conn. His company has built pools out of quarries, and many
with beach entries and sun benches.
Changes in the waterpark industry have made a lasting
impact on the pool industry, Josephs said.
?Swimming itself has been redefined by the
waterpark industry,? she said, adding that all
pool-goers, residential or municipal, want the moving
water, sprays, fountains and rocks associated with the
nearby aquatics park.
?Kids are going to be bored if they
don?t have that,? Josephs said.