Rise of the Hybrids The latest trends in waterpark development and operations are creating a better and more exciting guest experience Aleatha Ezra, director of park member development, World Waterpark Association (WWA)
his year promises to be hot, hot, hot for the water leisure industry in Europe and beyond – and what could be more appropriate for waterpark operators? Leisure industry analysts agree that the days of financial crisis and slowed growth are starting to fade away and what’s being left in its place is renewed optimism for consumers and new attraction development for operators. “The last 12 months have revealed a steady financial recovery throughout the world’s leisure markets. Thanks to this recovery, there has been increasing investment confidence, which has translated into a number of new and previously shelved projects starting to re-emerge and commence with the building and opening process,” says Roger Currie, regional director, Water Technology Inc. Hence, the water leisure industry is poised for the kinds of new facility and attraction developments that get people 92
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK 2015-2016
talking and coming out to spend their money. Some of the burgeoning trends that are becoming more prevalent in 2015 are: creating memorable family experiences; delivering interactive ride attractions making the most of hybrid ride development; and using phased development to create cost and space efficiency. Alongside these hot developmental trends, waterpark operators are continuing to focus on facilitating operational trends and advancements that will pay even bigger dividends once new consumers walk through the gates. These trends include things like being good stewards of the environment through water and energy conservation and focusing on accessibility throughout the waterpark environment. Both the development and operational trends are worth taking a deeper look at in order to get a clearer idea of exactly why this year will be so successful for the water leisure market.
Development Trends Family time matters What is it that Ferris Bueller says at the beginning of John Hughes’ film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Today, life is moving about as fast as it can for most families. Mums, dads and kids are balancing work, school and sports commitments with socialising – both virtual and in-person. Because of this, families are taking some time to slow down and enjoy leisure activities together. According to recent research carried out by PGAV Destinations, a planning and design firm whose recent projects include Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in China and PortAventura in Spain, the main priority that families are looking for when they travel is ‘togetherness’. According to PGAV, “Families want to do something as a family, even if they head off to different www.attractionshandbook.com