Waterparks are not just wet playgrounds. They’re fun, unforgettable experiences that can remain seared in someone’s memory for years and years. It’s crucial to invest in attractions that will remain relevant and consistent well into the future to guarantee that these guests will return again and again.
“The goal of any water ride is to deliver entertainment value that exceeds guest expectations,” says Ray Smegal, Chief Commercial Officer at ProSlide. “The kind of rides that can accomplish that level of guest entertainment are those that are thoughtfully designed with innovative and timeless technology. Those are the ones you want in your park.”
How do you ensure that your waterpark will continue to deliver memorable experiences, year after year? By offering outstanding, timeless rides. They should be authentic, meaning, they are developed by the original inventor with his or her original intent and vision. Rides that have been copied lack those key design elements not visible on the surface, which Smegal says loses all the lessons learned to make the original version a superior ride.
One of the most important factors when choosing water rides for a park is to consider your main demographic. Since most waterparks bring in families, it’s crucial to select rides for everyone. There should be a well-balanced mix of rides that cater to each guest entertainment expectation. So, having a high-speed thrill ride, a more classic lazy river, or an aquatic play area for the smaller children will solidify that there is something for everyone.
At the same time, there should be rides that the entire family can enjoy together. For example, the MAMMOTH family raft ride by ProSlide is carefully tailored to entire families. “We’re looking to create experiences that include changes of velocity appropriate for all ages, so that the feeling of acceleration—speeding up, slowing down, moving side to side—is very purposefully designed into the ride path,” Smegal says. Teamboat Springs at Disney’s Blizzard Beach, one of ProSlide’s early MAMMOTH rides, was designed for the multi-generational families who typically visit Disney together.
The rides will also define the waterpark’s brand, particularly if there’s a signature ride with some personality. For example, the ProSlide authentic TORNADO is a funnel ride that plunges 2-6 people on a tube raft through heart-stopping drops, sweeps, and high-speed oscillations. Because of its unique design, both in experience and iconic appearance, a ride like this one serves as a waterpark’s anchor ride and sets the experience apart from competitors.
To “future-proof” your park, you need to create a strategy for your next water ride. “You need to do your research to understand what water ride technology is emerging, and what the best parks around the world are doing,” Smegal says. “There’s an incredible amount to learn from the best in your industry because they’re competing in a similar way to how you compete.” In addition, you should examine your immediate market and take note what competing parks have. Also check out what other attractions might be featured in your market. Knowing what’s in your surrounding area can help you establish a benchmark and create a point of differentiation and accessibility.
It’s not enough to simply add an attractive water ride. A new ride will add more marketing value in the first year, but to continue succeeding in future years, the ride should have the latest technology and be designed to meet changing demands and demographics.
“The future of your park and its success will always be determined by how well you exceed your guest’s expectations when they spend the day at a water park,” Smegal says. “Purposeful design, high-performance technology, immersive experiences, are all things that come with authentic water rides. Those are the things that will keep your guests coming back again and again.”