Waterpark developers analyze demographics to determine where to build and what types of attractions to include. But what often aren’t factored into these decisions are the personality types that will visit the park.

WhiteWater wants to change that.

The Richmond, B.C.-based attractions maker consulted a developmental psychologist to create a handy guide that places guests into four categories of play types. They are: The adventurer, the dreamer, the socializer and the challenger.

Each has its own unique needs and should be served accordingly, says Una de Boer, WhiteWater’s director of global marketing and strategy.

For example, the challenger is competitive, wants to master a game or a sport and is a bit of a daredevil. So a waterpark might consider adding a surf machine, mat racer or a waterslide that includes a video-game element that allows them to score points on the way down.

“That sense of achievement is really what the challenger is after,” de Boer said.

For the adventurer, the journey is as important as the destination. Adventurers appreciate the unknown and gravitate toward attractions that offer different experiences every time, such as a rapids ride or an interactive play structure.

The socializer enjoys shared experiences either as a participant or a spectator. You can find them in wave pools, lazy rivers or playing interactive and collaborative games.

“The socializer experience isn’t just what you do on an attraction,” de Boer said. “It’s what you do as you experience the park, and creating those meeting points and the ability for people to interact and watch.”

The dreamer desires attractions where they can let their imaginations soar, whether it’s floating through a lazy river or relaxing poolside in a cabana. Dreamers can best be served with architectural theming and design.

By taking these characteristics into consideration, waterparks can offer a broader range of experiences that will appeal to different types of guests.

The four profiles were developed with the help of Mark Weston, WhiteWater’s product manager, who’s well versed in the science of play. Weston has a background in developmental psychology and co-authored the book Playful Parenting with his then-wife Denise Chapman Weston, “a playologist” and one of the creative forces behind MagiQuest, the interactive adventure at Great Wolf Lodge resorts.

No one is strictly one play type. It’s possible for someone to be both a challenger and a socializer. For those folks, the attractions that offer a combination of competitive game play and interaction would be ideal.

“People are a mix of all of them,” de Boer said. “They just tend to lean more to one than the other.”

Early next year, WhiteWater will publish a white paper describing in more academic detail each of the play types and the attractions that best serve them. You can register for it here.

In the meantime, you can take a quick survey to discover whether you’re an adventurer, socializer, dreamer or challenger.

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