In the September Waterpark Issue of Aquatics International, writer Rebecca Robledo speaks with industry professionals about the economic and market conditions and the evolution of designers/manufacturers attractions in order to enhance the customer experience.
While a few of the up-and-coming waterparks are pushing the boundaries of size, a more dominant trend, among waterparks of all sizes, is the emphasis on offering an immersive experience. The media and entertainment thread continues with waterparks incorporating more and larger television screens. Lately, more clients want TVs at the tip of their wave pools, so they can host in-pool movies or continuously play footage of other attractions.
“So while they’re in one attraction they can see video about the others in that park, and that encourages people to move around and creates excitement,” says Jessica Mahoney, Director of Marketing for Aquatic Development Group (ADG) in Cohoes, N.Y. Not only do technology and engagement come to bear in this immersive approach. In the past few years, waterparks and their designers have placed a larger emphasis on theming and storyline.
Waterparks of all sizes are taking advantage of these technologies and approaches as much as possible. In fact, they may have swung slightly too far in that direction: As designers focus on engagement with every attraction and every space, they may forget that people sometimes just want space to relax or regroup from all the excitement.
“People have invested heavily in ‘water slides, water slides, water slides,’” says Ray Lauenstein, Business Development Manager for ADG. “But we’re hearing more people say, ‘I don’t have enough lay-down space.’”
For this reason, ADG makes sure to include space for what it calls ‘unprogrammed’ water. This often involves some type of flat-water pool or other low pressure body of water away from the high-intensity activities. Plenty of deck space and seating should also be part of this space. “It’s just a body of water you can get into and you don’t have to react to anything,” says Lauenstein. “It gives you a chance just to hang out and relax. … It helps keep people in the park a little longer and gives them a break.”
This also gives them a chance to spend time completely immersed in water and take a break from the heat. “And it serves a lot of people,” he adds. “There’s no weight limit, everybody can use it. It’s not 20 seconds and I have to leave. I don’t have to wait in line. I just go in and I can hang out and play.”
To recover some space for these lower-key features, at least one ADG client so far has opted to remove a lesser-performing water slide. Like at any public venue, people always seem to be looking around for a place to take a load off. So in these unprogrammed-water areas and other spaces throughout the park, the ADG team also tries to incorporate more seating. Regardless of waterpark size, observers expect their owners, developers and designers to continue these efforts to fine-tune the customer experience.
source: Aquatics International, September Issue, writer: Rebecca Robledo
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