In the world of waterparks, 2022 is expected to be the first “normal” year since 2019, said Hotel Leisure Advisors in its yearly waterparks report.
“As vaccines are now widely available, and COVID becomes endemic, waterparks are poised to capitalize on pent-up demand and return to pre-COVID performance levels,” the organization stated in its report. “While 2021 saw robust growth in pricing at many properties, 2022 will see the industry open a number of expansions and new developments.”
With several large-scale expansions taking place at existing waterparks this year, bigger new developments are to come next year at waterparks and surf parks throughout North America, the report further projected.
Hotel Leisure Advisors said 20 new waterparks will open this year, and more than 31 existing facilities will be expanded. This is a drop compared with 2021 numbers.
Surf parks continue to grow in popularity. This year, 46 have either been proposed or are currently under construction, the group said.
“Surf parks appeal to a wide range of customers in various life stages, including families with children,” the organization said. “Surf parks can capitalize on that in much the same way waterparks have by creating family-friendly environments coupled with memorable experiences.”
Though attendance dropped in 2021, entry fees went up, positioning waterparks to enjoy healthy revenue boosts when attendance reverts back to normal, the analysts expect.
Though 2021 proved to be another challenging year, it saw a net increase in waterparks, with 30 properties opening and only four closing. Outdoor stand-alone waterparks accounted for more than half of this growth, with 10 indoor waterpark resorts and seven indoor stand-alone waterparks.
The Midwest and South continue to boast the most waterparks, with 418 and 389, respectively. When it comes to indoor waterparks, the Midwest has come in even with the South, with each region having 299.
Over the past 12 months, indoor waterpark resorts have generally outperformed traditional hotels as families looked for more compelling leisure options. New waterpark resorts are in development across the country, with Great Wolf Lodge developing the most.
“As much as the pandemic forced the industry to adapt, fundamentals of waterparks remain strong, and we expect to see continued growth,” the report stated.