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The Waterpark Experience is Changing with Innovation


Hotel & Leisure Advisors report that investments in indoor, outdoor, and hotel water parks exceeded $1 billion in 2020 throughout North America. Renovations, expansions, and introductions of new technologies and concepts to water parks have become driven by improving the guest experience, just like other recreation and entertainment properties. Today's water parks offer an experience similar to that of an amusement park, with their innovative thrill rides, integrated stories and themes, and advanced interactive features. There are likely to be fourteen standalone waterparks and one resort with an outdoor waterpark. Waterpark space will be added to 17 properties in the indoor segment. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has caused uncertainty in the industry for 2020.

Waterpark success is still largely determined by the complete guest experience. As a result of this focus on experience, healthy competition is seen within the industry, driving all waterparks to strive to offer an experience that stands out for guests and encourages return visits.

Innovations like Hybrid Rides and Slideboarding Are Attracting New Customers

A waterpark that utilizes advanced engineering and technology will attract new guests and keep the existing ones happy. A hybrid slide combines the fun of two, three, or even four individual rides into a single experience, allowing users to enjoy multiple attractions at once. A growing number of guests are opting for multi-person rides so that they can share the experience with others.

With the introduction of "slide boarding," waterpark experiences have become more interactive, allowing riders to challenge friends and compete against each other. Video games feature "levels" like progressive games, ensuring a bespoke experience for every skill level. And even though the ride doesn't change, the game element ensures a unique outcome each time. Technology is most effective when it enhances a traditional play experience rather than replicating or replacing it. Having the opportunity to touch the water, run around, and feel the wind in their hair is the most exciting aspect of Vortex aquatic structures.


 Families are short on time, which is their most valuable resource. Getting the most play value in the shortest amount of time is the goal of water parks today. The new waterpark industry is focused on the renovation of existing facilities, in addition to building with the "complete experience" in mind, including swim-up bars, full-service spas, and inspired restaurants, to match the core elements of the theme parks' success. It costs tens of millions to build large water parks, which is a fraction of the estimated price tag of a major theme park with a half-billion dollars.

Additionally, waterparks have seen great innovation in terms of ticketing systems, line management, and paperless "splash cash" systems. Online ticketing has made a big difference that many amusement parks are offering now.

Several other innovations include photosensors on water rides, which are being integrated with a variety of other features in a growing number of waterparks. As a result, the operators know whether the next ride should go out based on where the rides are in line.  It facilitates the smoother running of the ride, as well as improving safety.

Focus on Staycation

Waterparks have always been a family-oriented attraction, so "staycations" have proved particularly relevant to the industry, whose visitors are primarily families. Those who choose to stay close to home for vacations, or travel for shorter weekends instead of long vacations, prefer water parks.


The development of waterparks continues in some markets in the United States and Canada, with development costs rising for both indoor and outdoor waterparks as higher construction and labor costs affect a wide range of real estate developments. A number of outdoor waterparks are being built, mostly at municipal facilities with a smaller number of privately developed venues. It will be interesting to see how smaller properties and markets adapt as the industry focuses on bigger, more amenity-rich properties. With today's smart consumers having ever-increasing choices, it is imperative for properties to adopt proactive strategies on marketing and facility improvement.

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