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2012 #43 volume 8, issue 4

MAGAZINE

INSIDE: waterpark attendance figures

A WhiteWater Original The expanding company opens its first AquaCourse at Alabama’s Splash Adventure and acquires Hopkins Rides. Find out what makes the company a success.


Just Add Water Thinking about this issue reminded me of various products, promising differing results if one “just adds water.” Invariably, things will happen, something will grow. It seems like that advice applies to attractions and entertainment too.

2012 #43 • volume 8, issue 4

4

waterpark attendance

6

a look back

8

rising tides

The year’s top 20 waterparks from TEA / AECOM

historical waterpark trends • by Dan Martin & George Walker

WhiteWater West’s rising tide of growth • by Martin Palicki

13

snake charmers

14

making mammoth

18

looking at legoland

Polin’s King Cobra unleashed on the US • by Sohret Pakis

more than meets the eye to attraction design • by Martin Palicki

pictorial of Florida’s newest waterpark • by Martin Palicki

Waterparks have been successful for many years, and they continue to be so, in part thanks to longer, hotter summers, but also due to reinvestment in capital. Industry suppliers have no shortage of innovation in developing new ways and experiences to “just add water” to. Additionally, water is being added in places one might not traditionally find it. Ropes courses, cruise ships, malls…the list continues. Bringing water play into unexpected or untraditional places opens our industry to new markets and new customers. The one place water hasn’t really caught on seems to be Las Vegas, home of this year’s WWA conference and trade show. Although virtually every resort property comes with some type of glamorous pool, water recreation hasn’t taken off in Sin City. Older waterparks have closed, and plans for new ones seem perpetually slowed or stalled. Maybe it’s because water and expensive slot machines don’t mix, or because casinos want you to spend as much time inside as possible. Next month, we return to Orlando for IAAPA, where water truly has made things grow. I encourage you, just as I did a few weeks ago, while you are busy bustling around the trade shows to take a few hours if you can and go sit by a pool, go down a waterslide, or lounge in a lazy river, and be reminded why we are in this industry, and why what we do brings smiles to so many faces.

Cover: The new AquaCourse at Alabama’s Splash Adventure from WhiteWater West combines a ropes course with a water play structure.

-Martin Palicki Editor

staff & contributors EDITOR martin palicki CO-EDITOR judith rubin CONTRIBUTING EDITORS mitch rily kim rily DESIGN mcp, llc

CONTRIBUTORS thomas hellstrom dan martin sohret pakis george walker SALES martin palicki

InPark Magazine (ISSN 1553-1767) is published five times a year by Martin Chronicles Publishing, LLC. 2349 E Ohio Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207. Shipping address: 2349 E Ohio Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207. Phone: 262-412-7107. Fax: 414-377-0769. Printing by MagCloud and Direct Impact. Contents © 2012 InPark Magazine. All rights reserved. Nothing in the magazine may be reproduced or used in any manner without the prior written permission of the magazine. InPark Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations. Such material must be accompanied by a self-adressed and stamped envelope to be returned. Postmaster: Send address changes to InPark Magazine 2349 E Ohio Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207. Subscriptions are available annually for $30 per year ($40 international). Opinions expressed in editorial matter are not necessarily those of InPark Magazine or its publishers, Martin Chronicles Publishing, LLC.




waterpark attendance

Table

Top 20 water parks The 2011 TEA -AECOM Theme Index tracks attendance figures for theme parks and waterparks around the world. This except from their annual report brings you The Top 20 Waterparks Worldwide. worldwide PARK, location

change

2011

2010

1.0%

2,058,000

2,038,000

11.8%

1,900,000

1,700,000

1.0%

1,891,000

1,872,000

25.4%

1,726,000

1,376,000

0.0%

1,500,000

1,500,000

-13.8%

1,497,000

1,736,000

0.0%

1,223,000

1,223,000

15.4%

1,200,000

1,040,000

1

TYPHOON LAGOON AT DISNEY WORLD, Orlando, FL, U.S.A.

2

CHIMELONG WATER PARK, Guangzhou, China

3

BLIZZARD BEACH AT DISNEY WORLD, Orlando, FL, U.S.A.

4

OCEAN WORLD, Gangwon-do, South Korea

5

AQUATICA, Orlando, FL, U.S.A.

6

CARIBBEAN BAY AT EVERLAND RESORT, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

7

WET 'N WILD, Orlando, FL, U.S.A.

8

AQUAVENTURE, Dubai, U.A.E.

9

WET 'N WILD WATER WORLD, Gold Coast, Australia

9.1%

1,200,000

1,100,000

10

SUNWAY LAGOON, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4.0%

1,040,000

1,000,000

11

SCHLITTERBAHN, New Braunfels, TX, U.S.A.

11.3%

982,000

882,000

12

ATLANTIS WATER ADVENTURES (TAMAN IMPIAN JAYA ANCOL), Jakarta, Indonesia

11.8%

950,000

850,000

p14




8.2%

2011-10 worldwide top 20 water parks growth

23.6m 21.8m 2011 worldwide top 20 water parks attendance

PARK, location

2010 worldwide top 20 water parks attendance

change

2011

2010

13

WILD WADI, Dubai, U.A.E.

30.9% 890,000

680,000

14

THE JUNGLE WATER ADVENTURE, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia

-0.5%

871,000

875,000

15

SUMMERLAND, Tokyo, Japan

-8.1% 850,000

925,000

16

WATER KINGDOM, Mumbai, India

5.3% 800,000

760,000

17

BEACH PARK, Aquiraz, Brazil

6.6% 788,000

739,000

18

HAPPY MAGIC WATER CUBE, Beijing, China

- 768,000

new entry

19

WATER COUNTRY USA, Williamsburg, VA, U.S.A.

-7.8% 723,000

784,000

20

OCEAN PARK WATER ADVENTURE, Jakarta, Indonesia

0.0% 700,000

700,000

Where are the top 20 waterparks worldwide?

10 in Asia

6

in the U.S.A.

2

1

in the Middle East 

in Latin America

1

in Australia p15


a look back past behavior is the best indicator of future performance by Dan Martin & George Walker InPark has been reporting on the waterpark industry since our first year of existence. In recent years, we’ve engaged experts to provide their feedback on the state of the industry and future paths to success. Here are several excerpts from the InPark archives from regular contributors Dan Martin and George Walker.

2011 - Dan Martin The waterpark hotel/resort industry is now thriftier and wiser. It has lost a number of smaller players and one large player, although most of its properties remain. Key players continue to sift through the evidence to see what happened and what can be learned. The largest new market is the southern half of the US from the Carolinas to California. Texas will be a market to watch. Wilderness has done well enough in Pigeon Forge, TN to get attention for its southern strategy. Existing, but generally smaller southern properties are already adding small outdoor parks…Most of this action will be existing properties adding less-expensive “starter” outdoor-only waterparks…They would be wise to hold aside a spot for an 80,000 squareSoaring Eagle hph:Park 135x198 hph template 23/08/2012 10:51 Page 1

foot air-conditioned indoor waterpark for when they can afford it and need to make a move on their competition. An indoor waterpark could work well in Arizona where summer temps can stay over 100 degrees for months. Dallas had record temps last summer but Houston and Atlanta summers are also characterized by uncomfortable hot humid summers. The five million people of DFW, six million in Houston, and the five-and-a-half million in Atlanta might be very interested in this type of property. In general, the sweet spot appears to be lower to middle market. At the top of the market the waterpark hotel is not a new idea. The enormous Gaylord Texan near Dallas just added one. Also in Texas, two upscale Hyatt resorts and a JW Marriott in the hills around San Antonio have extensive outdoor waterpark features but have been less successful than expected. But in the capital of higher-than100-degree-days -- Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ -several successful upscale resort properties have extensive outdoor waterpark features. Overall, there are still plenty of places for some version of the idea to go, but to do that, capital must flow. To realize its potential, the waterpark hotels industry still needs more capacity in

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development skills, and people that realize that they are in the entertainment industry as well as hospitality.

2010 - George Walker In the wake of a veritable tidal wave of water park construction in the past decade, it is more important than ever before that new parks stay fresh, original, and competitive. Water parks are popular. They draw a broad, family demographic, and now there are more than ever before. The question is: will the market become saturated, or can this be prevented? The cautionary tales of the over-expansion of the Hard Rock Café chain offer a great comparison. Each new location built further diluted the uniqueness of the Hard Rock experience until guests started to realize that eating a hamburger next to a guitar screwed to the wall in New York City feels just about the same as it does in London. The same fate could befall water parks. There are only so many times that a collection of colorful, twisting plastic tubes and a wave pool are worth the money. In short, water parks could be headed upstream, swimming against a current that leads to “predictable” and “ordinary.” So what is the solution? Thinking outside the box in the design helps. The Aquaventure at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, is perhaps the strongest example of this that I have found. To start, it isn’t technically a water park! It offers many of the attractions that you would expect at a water park, and yet it isn’t one. There is no ticket gate, no extra charge. It is simply a perk of the resort. But the differences don’t stop there. Rather than locating the park on some gated, adjacent property, here the designers completely integrated Aquaventure into the resort’s environment. In this way, the slides and pools serve both as attractions and as water features for the resort. In addition to great theming, however, the innovation of the design is taken even further with the creation of a unique master plan that all but eliminates queue lines. Water parks across the country are notorious for their long waits, but at the Atlantis,


this problem is handled differently. For a major section of the water park, once you have entered the river with your inner tube, you do not have to get out again to be able to experience other attractions – because they are all connected to the river! Like a Venetian waterway, you can access several other areas of the park by simply floating to them on your tube. My personal experience there further demonstrates how effective this design is. I remember drifting into a channel that ultimately led to a water coaster. As I slowly floated along with at least a few dozen guests ahead of me, I remarked to myself how brilliant it was that there were no lines. At the time, it never occurred to me that I was, in fact, in a line. The master plan of connected waterways had completely fooled me. Though not every project can enjoy the luxury of Atlantis-sized budgets, the secret lies in the story and the environment. A clever design with a few new twists and well-told story is a lot better than an expensive design that simply offers more of the same, predictable products. The secret, then, is not to begin by shopping for the products, but by imagining the “story” first.

2008 Dan Martin There is no end in sight to the continued growth of Generation Y. Existing and new waterparks and waterplay venues will continue to serve them but they are likely to take some different approaches. • With the loss of some upper middle class households and the general lower income levels of young families today, near term value pricing will become more critical for parks serving the large numbers of children growing up in lower and moderate income households. Generation Y’s desire for multiple sensory inputs to be blended into their adventures may result in waterparks becoming digital in several ways. New and better sound, light and visual systems may become the norm, and with them, more channels for in-park advertising and sponsorship. The bonus will be that parks can be targeted and retargeted for specific audiences throughout a 24/7 timeframe. • The addition of teaser waterplay elements to other children’s attractions like zoos and aquariums will continue to grow. Some zoos, like the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, may add or include waterparks in their plans. These animal

environments have the potential to offer some really exciting theming, especially if they adopt the resort casino approach of slides through shark tanks and other thrills. • Waterplay incorporated into traditional adult venues like cruise ships and mainstream resorts also continue to rise. In time, these features will become as common at the largest resorts as golf courses are today. It is also likely to take a very elegant turn as infinity pools and other aesthetically pleasing water features are designed. • Publicly funded aquatic facilities will continue to be built and developed in family oriented communities – especially on the edges of metro areas where there will be the perception that there’s not much for the kids to do; aging populations in other communities may make them a harder sell. • Large health clubs that feature both indoor and outdoor leisure pools, like the Midwest’s Lifetime Fitness, may beat the public sector to the market in affluent areas with lots of families. Lifetime rings Chicago and Minneapolis already. • Downtowns will be the frontier for some daring concepts. At least a dozen major US downtowns are being repopulated with adult households in multifamily housing as our top cities become more like the more mature European cities. It is possible that the rise of adult waterplay coupled with the spa development tsunami, we may see the development of this generations’ version of the Roman Baths in some city centers. Public baths never went out of fashion in some Asian cultures and “taking the waters” persists as tradition in Germany and other eastern European countries. The development vehicle in some US cities may be the urban version of the Lifetime Fitness Center model that features lushly landscaped indoor pools with flowing water and hot spring like environments. As far fetched as this may seem, few would have predicted that large Texas housing developments would have the economic support to feature leisure pools that border on aquatic centers. The same could happen with large residential multifamily projects in cities targeted to adults. The most significant beneficiaries of all of these future waterplay trends will be the most innovative and reliable designers, builders, and developers who can envision where water fits into dry landscapes next to the flow of demand for waterplay across the US. • • •




rising tides WhiteWater West’s rising tide of growth by Martin Palicki Geoff Chutter, Founder, President & CEO of WhiteWater West, talks to IPM about business excellence and the company’s growth serving the waterpark and amusement park industry.

Geoff Chutter

In 2011, WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. celebrated its 30th year anniversary in the waterpark industry. Headquartered in Richmond, BC Canada, WhiteWater boasts more than 4,000 projects successfully completed worldwide and 550 employees in 19 offices internationally – giving the company a rightful claim to its description as the global leader in waterpark design, engineering and manufacturing. Moreover, “We are told our gross revenue confirms that WhiteWater is the largest industry supplier member of IAAPA,” says company founder, President & CEO Geoff Chutter. WhiteWater clients include Atlantis, Carnival Cruise Lines, Chimelong Waterpark, Cedar Fair, Disney International, Dollywood, LEGOLAND, Mount Olympus, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Noah’s Ark, Six Flags, Universal, and more. “Some want traditional rides and some want to be on the cutting edge,” says Chutter. “Regardless, we remain committed until they are fully satisfied.” Read on to learn more about WhiteWater’s corporate culture, the business philosophy and practices that led to its impressive growth, product innovations and plans for the future. achieved by sticking to our hedgehog principle while at the same time being able to identify complimentary opportunities. [“Hedgehog principle” is from Jim Collins: comparing the hedgehog’s deceptively simple self-defense maneuver of rolling up into a ball, with the power of simplicity and repetition in business; i.e. identifying a single, outstanding function.] In an industry dominated by single personality leadership and companies, WhiteWater has excelled by assembling a team of leaders.

Tell us something about the vision and management practices that have helped guide the company to its success of recent years. We have developed a business model that we believe best fits our own natural characteristics as well those of the industry. Our early adoption of kaizen [a set of business operations precepts developed by Japanese consultant Masaaki Imai] with its focus on continuous improvement and leadership in the development of new products, has been a contributing factor. We are also strong believers in the Toyota model [the influential “Toyota Way” popularized the concepts of “lean manufacturing” and “just in time production”] the teachings in the book ‘Good to Great’ [Jim Collins’s bestselling business title, first published in 2001] and a principled belief that in the end it is all about people and relationships.

2012 was a great season for you. What were some highlights? There were many, but I will single out 3 particular ones:

WhiteWater’s growth in the past 5 years has been across all traditional measurements: gross income, # of employees, # of projects. It has been

First, would be the introduction of AquaCourse™. This aquatic version of a ropes course, we believe, will grow to become a new standard element for a successful waterpark - after wave pools, rivers, waterslides and interactives. Its inaugural introduction into Alabama’s Splash Adventure this year resulted in a significant increase in attendance with the AquaCourse™ leading as the most popular attraction in the park. It was interesting to see all age groups involved; however, what surprised us was the large number of 7- to 15-year-old girls flocking to the ride. Second, would be the two acquisitions this year of Hopkins Rides and Murphy Waves. While the companies themselves are noteworthy and

Chutter says the Giant RainFortress™, shown here at Mt. Olympus, is one of the products clients are most interestes in. Photo courtesy Thomas Hellstrom.



Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are courtesy of WhiteWater West

When you founded WhiteWater West, did you envision it would turn into the company that it is today? I started by building my own waterpark which opened in 1981. I did not at that time envision that WhiteWater would even morph into a design and manufacturing company let alone become one of the top-ranking suppliers in the amusement park/waterpark industry. It was simply about recognizing opportunity - and in that context, the game has just begun.


Shoot the Chute and other Hopkins Rides attractions are a natural fit with larger waterparks. cement our future, it is the group of individuals behind these companies that are particularly impressive….pillars of the industry like Rick Briggs, Douglas Murphy, Jim Glover, Jim Stuart and Denise Weston…..all part of the A-team of this industry. The third highlight is the introduction of a new technology in fiberglass rides called SilkGel™. As a result of environmental laws reducing the use of styrenes in fiberglass (that is the material that you smell in fiberglass applications) fiberglass fades at a far more aggressive rate than it did 10 years ago. After 30 months of development we have developed a product that is styrene-free and allows us to warranty our products for 10 years against fading and chalking [more on this product below]. This is a huge cost saving to the waterpark and amusement park industry where virtually all new rides (before this development) require resurfacing in 3 to 5 years. What was the motivation behind the acquisition of Hopkins Rides? For a number of years we have been transitioning our Prime Play division of products for family adventures to better serve the amusement park industry. This has been through new products as well as staff recruited from the amusement park sector. We have had two successful amusement park water ride attractions in the Spinning Rapids® Ride and the Water Coaster™. Hopkins Rides are the experts in dry park water rides and so we feel that it’s a perfect fit. Certainly when one looks

at the Hopkins attractions, the components are slides, supports, control panels and mechanical – exactly what we have been doing in the waterpark sector for 32 years. We also see that the Hopkins line is a natural fit to large sophisticated waterparks where the season can be extended to the shoulder months. As important is the caliber of people that Hopkins brings to the family. The acquisition also fits in well with our rebranding and overall expansion: WhiteWater has transitioned from “The Waterpark Company” to “The ORIGINAL Waterpark & Attractions Company.” This rebranding allows us not only to maintain our leading position in the waterpark sector but also to expand our position as the go-to company for wet amusement park rides as well as our own interactive dry rides. While we have no interest in the steel ride sector, we do see opportunities in expanding our current wet/dry ride portfolio. The company has obviously weathered the recession very well. How did you position the company to thrive in the downturn? Our business model has remained largely unchanged – yet since 2008, our business has doubled in size. For example, WhiteWater has always taken a stealth approach to the international market: quietly investing without fanfare nor trumpeting our successes. Thus, when the recession hit, while others were scrambling to look for new markets, we were already there. Currently we have 19 offices around the




world. Our diversification along geographic, manufacturing and product lines has enabled us to react quickly to regional or sector-specific downturns. Let’s talk about some of your key products. It seems like there’s a race to always have the latest and greatest slide or attraction. What sort of R&D program do you have? Several years ago we made the decision to invest heavily in our new products group. By this I mean not only in technology but most importantly in people. Led by Rick Briggs - whose credentials include founding SCS Interactive and owning MagiQuest in addition to inventing multi-level, interactive waterpark products including the tipping bucket - we assembled a team of 12 people dedicated to the development of new products. The past two years have seen a huge number of these hit the market - including the Rattler™, the Anaconda™, the Family Python™, the Abyss™, AdrenaLIM Blaster and AquaCourse™. In addition, because of our vertical integration in owning our own manufacturing facilities, we’re able to have a separate team driving technological advances. We recently introduced SilkTek™ (fiberglass smooth on both sides), bubble-free translucent flumes, and SilkGel™, our new process that guarantees a longerlasting material. This process is now standard on every waterslide WhiteWater manufactures. SilkGel™ works with SilkTek™, our closed-molded

manufacturing process, translucent, as well as open-molded processes. This new fiberglass goes a long way in improving operators’ bottom lines since it requires little to no maintenance, has superior gloss retention and increased durability. Thus, we are able to claim the highest quality products in the industry with absolute confidence. AquaLoop™ is a product I think that was pretty game-changing, much like the uphill slide variations from a few years back. Are we nearing the limits of pushing the boundaries of what slides (and physics) allow us to do? Our model goes well beyond waterslides and adding more fiberglass. Our focus is on entertainment value and thus when we analyze a park’s needs, we are not restricted by simply one type of product but rather can look at interactives (AquaPlay™), Waves, FlowRiders®, AquaCourse™, the Hopkins style of rides as well as traditional waterslides to see what the park needs and what will provide the greatest return for the owner. Our target is generally the family unit. Spending too much on pushing the boundaries of physics (high thrill) caters to a relatively narrow band. We will, however, continue to drive change and see much opportunity ahead. Of your big product portfolio, what do you find clients seem to be most interested in? This depends on the product type; in Waves it is

the big surf waves like Typhoon Lagoon’s pool, in stationary surfing it is the Double FlowRider®, in interactives it’s the Giant RainFortress™ similar to the installations at Hersheypark, Hawaiian Falls and this year Mount Olympus, in wet/dry rides it’s the Hopkins Shoot the Chute, in waterslides it’s the Family Boomerango™. What they seek is a ride that will provide the greatest return. This will take into account capacity, entertainment value, the iconic marketing value and cost. This is WhiteWater’s key differentiating point... we are proud that the parks we serve are among the most profitable and successful in the world. This is a philosophical difference… we look at the whole park, not just a ride. Let’s talk about world markets. How do you view the US waterpark market right now? What do you feel are the global hotspots for waterpark development? At a time when others are fleeing the US market, we are re-investing. We are seeing that the parks generally have had two or three good years and have some reserves to re-invest. Many parks are tired and are hungry for new attractions. Within the industry community, many suppliers have found it difficult to complete. Some of this is a result of lower labor costs abroad but our observation is that until America goes metric, American products will remain uncompetitive simply because they cannot be maintained, refurbished or repaired abroad.

Alabama’s Splash Adventure is home to the world’s first AquaCourse™.

10


The Constrictor™ was an instant hit at the new Hawaiian Falls Waco site. We are finding activity in all areas of the globe and in all of our product lines. Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Asia and even Africa are all up in volume for us and certainly the US market was up last year and is again up this year. Cruise ships seem to be a developing new market for water and activity attractions – do you agree? The cruise industry has responded to what their customers have seen ‘on land’ and want ‘on board.’ We have been fortunate to have supplied to 35 Carnival Cruise Lines ships, the two newest Disney ships featuring award-winning Acrylic Master Blasters, as well as Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean. Ropes Courses, waterslides, FlowRiders®, AquaLoops™ and AquaPlay™ interactives have all been added with great success. We see this trend continuing. In your view, how is Asia’s explosive growth in themed entertainment affecting the future of the waterpark industry? All of Asia remains strong. The hot, humid climates with large populations combined with growing

economies continue to present opportunities for new parks and new products. Many of the new products being introduced are showing up in Asia before Europe or the US simply because of the strong growth across the region. WhiteWater’s location in Vancouver, the gateway to the Pacific, is advantageous. What sort of business structure (foreign offices, etc.) or strategy (trade shows? events? etc) do you have in place for tapping into the global market? Our model that we apply to all aspects of our business is one of commitment. We are committed to the international market and thus rather than cherry-pick, we invest in local offices and staff. Because our international commitment has been in place some 25 years, we are well placed to take advantage of the shift to off shore growth. The fact that 3 of the 4 original principals of WhiteWater have lived overseas has helped greatly. What do you find are the most important factors to park owners or developers when they’re shopping WhiteWater products?

11


Family Rattler™ is just one of many WhiteWater products to hit waterparks this year. Fundamentally, park owners want to maximize their bottom line - which is achieved through a series of interrelated priorities. We aren’t just trying to flog equipment: It is a little bit of the Steve Jobs approach, in that a customer may start out asking for one attraction but through discussion and demonstration it may emerge that a different attraction – and often, a smaller initial investment, that at first may appear counter-intuitive - will produce a superior bottom line. This may result in a smaller sale in year one, but if the customer has a significant gate increase, the ROI will bring them back for more in year two. A great example of this would be Nick Laskaris’ Mount Olympus in Wisconsin Dells. This property has seen great gate increases as a result of strategic, well-considered additions.

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What plans do you have for growing the company in the future? Opportunities continue to present themselves. We will continue to bring together great people, to license great products and, where appropriate, to acquire great companies who have at their core more great people.

, e f a s t i p Kee mple, si un! f d n a

12

Are there any new product developments coming up that you can talk about? No, not that we can talk about. But it is fair to say that given the size and leadership of our new products group WhiteWater will continue to introduce a significant number of new products annually, and these will cross over many of our business units. We are quietly introducing this month an overarching product that we believe has the possibility of being a complete game changer to the amusement and waterpark industries – watch for it! • • •


snake charmers Polin brings their King Cobra waterslide to the US by Sohret Pakis

T

he snake known as the King Cobra may not be native to the United States. But the kingsized serpent-themed waterslide from Polin Waterparks and Pool Systems (Istanbul, Turkey) slithered into a new home in Jackson, N.J this summer. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor opened the first US version of this slide, enticing guests with stomach-churning speeds and adrenalinepumping drops. Together, Six Flags Great Adventure, Wild Safari and Hurricane Harbor create America’s largest regional theme park. Hurricane Harbor waterpark, located on 45 acres, features more than 20 high-speed thrill slides, a family water playground, a million-gallon wave pool and a half-mile-long leisure river.

Polin’s supersized cobra version is no less threatening than the real one. Bold red, black and white scales provide an imposing veneer over the exterior and interior of the slide’s massive 50-foot (15.24-meter) height and 260foot (790-meter) length. The core feature of King Cobra is its unique configuration that enables two riders to race along a circular path filled with twists, turns and surprises. Water pressure of 3,875 gallons (14,668 liters) per minute catapults riders through open and closed tubes before they brave a heartpounding plunge nearly 25 feet (8 meters) down a 50-degree slope. Along the way, riders accelerate to a maximum speed of 32 mph (51 km/h).

Six Flags Great Adventure Park President John Fitzgerald said, “We are confident that King Cobra’s intense ride experience and unparalleled design will make it our most popular and entertaining water attraction.” Alper Cetiner, Polin Project Manager, echoed Fitzgerald’s comments. “With so many special features, we expect the ride to be more successful than even anticipated.” Polin installed the first King Cobra waterslide in Europe before exporting the massive attraction to Turkey and Russia. This year, in addition to the New Jersey installation, the company-which has designed, manufactured and installed waterparks in 80 countries around the globewill create new habitats for King Cobra in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. • • •

The King Cobra slide allows guests to race side by side before splashing down towards the giant snake’s fangs. Courtesy of Polin

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making mammoth creating amazing waterpark experinces involves more than waterslides interviews by Martin Palicki Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana introduced Mammoth in 2012, a new attraction from ProSlide that took their popular Hydromagnetic water coaster technology and applied it to a family style raft for up to six guests. But a lot went into the attraction beyond just the slide. InPark talked with Rob Lippert of UStudios, who was reponsible for the design and architecture of the attractions structures as well as the landscape design. You were involved in the design and planning for Mammoth. What were you responsible for? U-Studios Incorporated was asked to develop a concept for the queue and an aesthetic for all of the buildings associated with Mammoth. Our intent for the queue sequence was to bring guests through grasslands, boulders and low shrubbery, evolving into a heavily landscaped environment along the path, integrated within the existing woodland. As the queue and ride evolved, several structures were designed to satisfy needs in the guest area and to house the ride control equipment. These structures included a pavilion for loading and unloading

guests from the rafts, gateway tower, bridges, a structure to hold shoes while guests were riding, an observation platform overlooking the final moments on the attraction and a building for pumps and control equipment. What were some of the unique elements you dealt with in this new ride? Holiday World is noted for having a beautiful, natural environment, set on rolling hills covered with mature trees. Our intent was to preserve as much of this natural setting as we possibly could while still satisfying the requirements of the new ride and providing for a comfortable and shady place for guests as they wait to board. Utilizing the natural terrain and features, we were able to craft a sheltered sequence, taking advantage of mature trees, wild plants and an existing stream. Also, working with existing woodlands, we wanted to have a minimal impact on the site, allowing the natural underbrush to come up to the path as much as possible, giving a rustic, adventuresome approach. This meant carefully laying the path through the woods with minimal re-grading. In addition, there was a natural stream that ran under the queue that was identified by the Corps of Engineers as not

to be disturbed. So we had to carefully weave the path around the stream and bridge over it when we needed to cross it. What challenges did you have to overcome? One very unique challenge to overcome was to provide a place for guests to leave their shoes. A structure needed to be situated so that people could drop off their shoes while in the queue as they approached boarding, and yet could retrieve their shoes after disembarking the ride, without the two paths crossing in order to eliminate the possibility of line jumping as well as congestion at the shoe pavilion. We solved this by placing cubbies open on both sides between the queue and the exit path. The ride vehicle is very dependent on the total weight of the group of guests on any given raft. We faced several challenges in designing the loading sequence. Guests needed to be organized into groups of up to six, and then they are weighed as a group. There needed to be adequate space after the scale to queue a group that falls outside the ideal weight ranges until they could be adjusted. (see sidebar) Also, the ride was designed by ProSlide to accommodate unloading and reloading the rafts on the same platform, so people had to be carefully managed to minimize cross traffic of people exiting while others board the ride. Have you worked with Holiday World/ Splashin’ Safari in the past? If so, on what other projects? If not, how did you find out about this project? In 2010, we were hired by the Koch family to perform an analysis of the existing park capacity and master plan for growth over the next ten years. Immediately after completing the master plan, we were asked to address shading the queue for the Wildebeest, the smaller sibling to the Mammoth. We are currently planning renovations at the entrance to the water park and in the early phases of design for The Santa Claus Museum and Village for Mrs. Koch.

Landscaping for Mammoth was crucial to the overall design, including this rock riverbed. On the far right, the shoe cubbies are visible. Photo courtesy of U Studios.

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In this early painting of the Mammoth queue and buildings, attention was given to the natural landscape and exploration feel of the attraction. Image courtesy of U Studios.

A Weighted Issue The new Mammoth attraction has specific weight requirements in order for the boats to safely navigate the course. Groups of riders must fall within the acceptable range or be regrouped by park staff. To aid in this process, the park added three scales from SR Instruments, Inc. All scales are flush mount units , making it as convenient as possible for visitors and attendants . The first scale they selected was one that would be built into the walkway , making it as convenient as possible for visitors and attendants. Their plan for the ride was for this preliminary scale with a light system to sort out groups of riders. The final two scales are intended to provide a double check on the weight of riders . They are fitted with light systems providing an intuitive go/ no go check for the operator. We checked in with SR Instrument’s Sam Baker for more information on this system. Why is measuring weight important? Ride manufacturers are applying weight limits to rides for safety reasons. That is why parks who are serious about safety are using scales. The total weight of riders has an effect on ride speed, balance, centrifugal forces,

etc. depending on the characteristics of the particular ride . Because of that it is important to stay within the limits established by the ride manufacturers.

SR “purpose built” scales for MAMMOTH. Courtesy of Splashin’ Safari Will we see more weighing in rides? Scales in water parks are a recommendation of insurance companies, risk assessment consultants and others who deal in park safety issues. One individual involved in risk assessment told me he estimated 80% of the

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problems in parks are due to weight issues. It is important to note that underweight is also an important safety factor - we are providing single person scales that have underweight as well as overweight light/ alarm systems. How do you find it is best to handle this potentially sensitive issue? From the beginning, we recognized that simplicity and efficiency were important factors for parks . They want ride attendants to be able to move riders along efficiently, avoiding confrontations. That is why we use a light system rather than showing actual weights. When we describe our products as “purpose built” we are saying the scales are specifically made for ride applications. In many cases without scales, attendants are just guessing or using height rods, which at best don’t provide much accuracy. How is the scale working? One of our design engineers took his family out for some vacation time and reported that they were very pleased with the scales. He was extremely impressed with the park in general. The folks at Holiday world were really great to work with and run a first class operation!


creative but cost-effective designs. An extensive art and theater background combined with years of practical knowledge of construction practices, materials and techniques makes UStudios particularly suited to working for parks with tight budgets.

Guests on the completed Mammoth enjoy the unique slide. Photo courtesy of Holiday World. What role did theming play in this design? While not designed around a specific narrative, we wanted to convey an exotic place, excitement and adventure in keeping with the park’s name, Splashin’ Safari. The inspiration for the architecture and landscaped theming was drawn from imagery of jungle adventure stories. The buildings are clustered in a way that gives a feeling of an encampment in the woods, while searching for a great beast on safari. Our job also entails being sensitive to perpetuating what has been so successful all these years in this familyrun park. The Koch family has a special brand

in the industry that provides for continued growth. What do you feel are your areas of expertise? U-Studios Incorporated has developed many techniques for delivering excellent design solutions that can be constructed for a reasonable cost. In addition to experience in the themed entertainment industry, the firm also has many years of providing services to not-forprofits. From churches to regional theaters, the firm has, time and again, been called upon for

In addition to being licensed architects, Gary Karasek has more than 40 years of experience in fine and visual arts. Rob Lippert has nearly 40 years of theater experience, having executed scenic design or lighting design for over 100 shows and serving as a theatrical consultant on the design of several facilities. When we combine the art and theater backgrounds with architecture, the themed entertainment industry was a natural fit for our practice. The ability to listen to our clients and translate their goals into conceptual ideas, develop these ideas into themed architecture and finally into built realty, in a cost-effective way is our expertise. Is designing for a waterpark different than designing for a theme park? The mechanics of a waterpark are significantly more complex than what is needed for a dry park. In addition to typical utilities that need


to be incorporated, there are miles of piping hidden under the ground that needs to be accounted for. In addition, the health codes for water parks demand extra safety and more stringent design. You are designing for wet, barefoot people. Walking surfaces can become slippery. Separating water from electricity becomes a big challenge. What else have you learned from your experience? As architects and creative designers, we are always looking for innovative opportunities for our clients to better serve their guests. The idea of exit through retail is a time-tested method for generating increased product sales. But, it seems that many park operators are missing an opportunity to really engage their guests while they have them captive in the queue. We recognize that guests spend on average, 30 minutes walking to and waiting in line for a 3-minute attraction. It also seems that it would be much easier to hold the guests’ attention while they stand in line, rather than

Insider Opinion InPark spoke to Holiday World’s Dan Koch to find out where the inspiration for Mammoth came in the first place. What made you guys decide to build Mammoth in the first place? (as opposed to a coaster, flat ride, new show, etc...) How important was the “newness” factor of the product? Wildebeest, our first water coaster, was such a hit when it opened in 2010, we knew right away we needed to bring another ProSlide Hydromagnetic Rocket to Splashin’ Safari. When we learned about ProSlide’s new water coaster design – with six-passenger round boats – we knew we’d found our Mammoth. How did you pick ProSlide as the slide supplier? We have a long, successful relationship with Rick Hunter and the folks at ProSlide. We joke that we’re the showroom for their rides. Do you find that the waterpark is a bigger draw than the theme park? Is it about equal? Do your guests spend all day in one or the other or do they split their time? With the hot, humid weather we’ve experienced increasingly over the past decade, we’ve seen Splashin’ Safari’s appeal

enticing them into a shop or restaurant as they walk by on their way to the next ride. In recent discussions, we analyzed ways in which the guests could increase their enjoyment while waiting in line in addition to capturing additional revenue for the park. With the amount of time that guests spend in queue lines, it seems like a natural place to provide additional sales opportunities, whether it is products or food and beverage. As an example, the park could offer kid’s dress up photo opportunities with a character or adventurous setting, an interactive challenge based on the ride narrative with prize rewards at the end, and even a consideration of retail or food/drink vendors available in the queue line. In the new queue for the Dumbo ride in the Fantasyland expansion, Disney introduced the idea of no line and a place for children to be engaged while they wait. The next logical step should be to ask how we can capture additional revenues while they play. • • •

grow exponentially. That’s where the lines are, so that’s where we’ve been adding capacity most years. We find some Guests divide their days between the two parks while others take a day for each park. Most, though, spend the first hour or so in Holiday World, midday in Splashin’ Safari, and evening back in Holiday World. Who supplied the rafts? Mammoth boats are produced by Z-Pro. Were there any operational challenges that you successfully overcame? Any new ride design is going to have some issues, and Mammoth was no exception. We worked closely with ProSlide and Z-Pro to get the boats running smoothly so that we had very few faults after those first weeks of testing and operation. What do you think is Mammoth’s biggest selling point to guests? It’s just so FUN. They come off Mammoth laughing and hugging. Riding in a round, six-passenger boat provides that wonderful interaction as riders get to watch their family and friends ride – all the great reactions as they get splashed, shoot downhill backwards and then fly up the next hill. Plus, it’s the world’s longest water coaster, so our Guests love that it’s a good, long thrill ride.

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The Waterslide

World of Tomorrow!


looking at legoland a look at Florida’s newest waterpark, at Legoland, Florida photos by Martin Palicki

The entrance to Legoland Waterpark. It’s not a separate gate in the traditional sense, it is a park-within-a-park. Entrance to Legoland is required, along with an additional $12 charge for use of the waterpark.

There are lots of Lego touches, such as this relaxing Lego man, as well as the lazy river, which includes a Build-a-Raft feature. Guests can grab giant floating Lego blocks to decorate their rafts

Legoland Waterpark’s most thrilling attractions come in the form of three body slides on the Splash Out structure. Unfortunately, the access stairs afford a great view of the park’s “boneyard” and decaying sections of the unrestored Cypress Gardens area.

Most of the park’s body slides are contained within the play structure, known as the Joker Soaker (left). The Twin Chasers (right) are two intertwined tube slides. Guests can ride in single or double tubes. 18


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InPark #43: Waterparks 2012