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Waterparks
Tapping the experts

What makes a waterpark a success, what are the trends and what does the future hold? We ask the experts

By Kathleen Whyman | Published in Attractions Management 2013 issue 3




Mike Oswald General Manager Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi

 

Mike Oswald
 

What’s your career history?
I’ve worked in the industry for more than 20 years, starting off at 16-years-old as a part-time lifeguard in 1991. I worked at Raging Waters in Los Angeles, California, one of the larger waterparks in the United States, then Southland Entertainment, a company which had just bought Alabama Adventure, a 90-acre amusement park and waterpark. In 2008, I joined the Farah Leisure team as the general manager for Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. In this role, I’ve led the operations team through the feasibility and design process, the pre-opening and opening phase and currently lead the team in the full-time operation of the park.

How has the industry changed?
The biggest changes are in ride technology and our ability to have conversations with guests via social media.

What are the current trends?
The trend I see is the merging of traditional theme parks with waterparks. The major waterpark manufacturers, such as WhiteWater and Proslide Technologies, now offer rides and technologies only previously available in theme parks. Technologies such as Linear Induction Motors (LIM), interactive gaming, and special effects are where the investment’s taking place.

Traditional theme park manufacturers, such as Hopkins Rides, are now part of the WhiteWater portfolio. Giant interactive play structures are in theme parks, such as Legoland and Six Flags, and coasters are going into waterparks. This is an exciting trend and I hope it continues, as it creates unique experiences never experienced by our guests.

What makes Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi a success?
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi has been ranked among the top three waterparks in the world. It’s an experiential attraction with 43 rides, slides and attractions – including five one-of-a-kind rides that aren’t available in any other waterparks in the world.

The Emirati theme follows the story of a character called Dana and her search for a lost pearl that will restore her pearl diving village to prosperity. Live interactive shows, an atmospheric setting, thrilling rides and authentic souq-style shopping attractions ensure there’s something for all the family.

What are your future plans?
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi was built to be completed in one phase. However, there are approximately 2.5 hectares available for future expansion.

As we’ve only been operational since January this year, our focus is to continue to build awareness of our unique rides and attractions and continue to develop timely offers that are relevant to key holiday periods that offer our visitors great value.


 



Surfing is one of 43 rides, slides and attractions at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi


John Jakobsen Managing Director, Legoland Resorts – Waterpark Merlin Entertainments

 

John Jakobsen
 

How many waterparks does Merlin have?
Merlin Entertainments acquired its first two waterparks – Gardaland Waterpark in Milan, Italy and Alton Towers Resort, UK (indoor) – in 2006/7. These gave us the understanding and experience to open two more at Legoland California and Legoland Florida, with a fifth to open in Legoland Malaysia early next year.

What are a waterpark’s benefits?
Waterparks are a potential development for the group, not as stand-alone attractions, but as part of our broader resort strategy. This is designed to underline the short break/destination positioning of all our theme parks, with the addition of accommodation, second gate attractions, such as waterparks and Sea Life, and extensions to the core parks – all of which are working to significantly increase two- to three-day visits.

Waterparks can add another half, or often full, day’s activities and entertainment for our visitors, and they’ve been very successful for us. More than that, we’ve added to their appeal by developing supporting retail and catering brands, as well as exciting programmes of fun special events and live entertainment.

What are the challenges?
Unlike other theme parks, outdoor waterparks are very weather dependent, with shorter seasons and significant peaks and troughs of numbers, even when located in warm climates like California and Florida. The challenge, therefore, is the management of capacity – the acceptance that the operator needs to provide an excellent experience on fewer, but potentially very busy, days while also managing other much quieter days.

It’s a similar pattern to the queue management for standard water rides in theme parks, but on a much bigger scale. Building waterparks in locations like Florida or Malaysia helps to extend the season, but even there numbers will drop on an overcast day.

What are Merlin’s future plans?
The importance of water to the theme park experience, particularly in Legoland, means that we need to look at ways to incorporate it into other resorts in the future. This may be through the addition of water-based features to the main parks. Indoor parks may also be a natural extension to consider for other sites or as a separate gate to the theme park.


 



Waterplay is especially popular at Legoland parks as it appeals to young children


MIchel linet-frion Creative & Innovation Director Pierre & Vacances/Center Parcs Entertainments

 

MIchel linet-frion
 

What is your career history?
I’m a French architect. I’ve worked for about 30 years in the leisure industry for Walt Disney Imagineering, Parc Astérix/Grévin & Cie and am currently creative & innovation director for French leisure and real estate group Pierre & Vacances/Center Parcs.

After my time at Disney, my role has been to develop existing and new sites – to keep them attractive and innovative to ensure they remain popular.

How has the industry changed?
The best change was when theming was introduced as an ingredient for waterparks and all other attractions. It makes the parks timeless and more of an immersive experience, rather than a series of attractions.

How many Center Parcs are there?
Center Parcs was set up 40 years ago and now has more than 20 resorts in Europe, each with an indoor Aqua Mundo waterpark.

Aqua Mundo is the concept pillar of this brand. It’s a tropical waterpark in the sense that it’s planted as a real landscape in which we display our water attractions and beaches. The waterparks are between 4,000 and 7,000 sq m (43,000 and 75,000 sq ft) each, including indoor space, outdoor pools and slides. They’re open 365 days a year and each gets approximately one million visits annually by our guests, as they come every day of their stay.

What are the current trends?
Trends aren’t so important – it’s what comes after that we should aim for.

What are Center Parc’s future plans?
We know we need to keep innovating. When refurbishing our existing parks, we’re developing new attractions and experiences including: AquaLuba, an interactive water play structure including a zip wire and waterfall climbing; the next generation wild water river; Experience River, a sensory lazy river; a snorkelling experience with a side story and interaction with living animals; more outdoor water play and pools; and possibly new family experiences such as dive-in movies one evening a week or special night-time events.

We’re also looking at introducing new storylines and giving ourselves more theming opportunities to conceal the pool equipment, such as the slide tower.

All of these plans are with the aim of totally engaging our guests in our environments through theming and storytelling to make it a real experience.


 



Each Aqua Mundo waterpark gets a million visits a year


Christoph Kiessling Vice president Siam Park & Loro Parque Group, Tenerife

 

Christoph Kiessling
 

What is your career history?
My father is founder and president of Loro Parque, a zoological theme park in the north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, which opened in 1972. Even when I was a child, my father shared his observations about park operation with me and, in 1995, after completing my Masters in business management, finance and bank operation, I moved to Tenerife to join my father in the family enterprise. I started as a sales representative and made my way up through different departments and responsibilities up to my position as vice president of the Loro Parque SA in 2009.

In 2008 we opened the waterpark Siam Park, themed on the old kingdom of Thailand, in the south of Tenerife. The park covers 18.5 hectares (46 acres), 30 per cent of which we’ll expand on in the future. I was very involved with the building and launch and oversaw every process in the park. We focused on providing a high standard of architecture, vegetation and attractions.

How has the industry changed?
When I joined the industry in the 1990s, very few waterparks invested in theming. Now visitors expect higher quality, a story and more than just one attraction.

At Siam Park we invest more in theming than we do in waterslides to create an exciting combination of visuals and sensations.

What are the current trends?
The main trend is the search for increasingly spectacular rides. In the past, almost all waterparks were made up of one-person experiences in the form of bodyslides. Today it’s more common to have multiple people tubes, where people face each other and have a shared experience.

Other trends are multiple sensation rides and a combination of gravity and mechanical rides. Our rides offer varying speeds and thrill levels for all guests.

What are your future plans?
My plans are to keep on offering entertainment with the same dedication for details and holistic concepts.


In the 1990s, very few waterparks invested in theming. Now visitors expect higher quality, a story and more than just one attraction

 



Siam Park’s Tower of Power
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Last July 7th, Red Raion took part in the opening event of FICO Eataly World, the Italian theme park dedicated to food - the only one worldwide! Find out more...
More videos:
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CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
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©Cybertrek 2022
Jobs    News   Products   Magazine
Waterparks
Tapping the experts

What makes a waterpark a success, what are the trends and what does the future hold? We ask the experts

By Kathleen Whyman | Published in Attractions Management 2013 issue 3




Mike Oswald General Manager Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi

 

Mike Oswald
 

What’s your career history?
I’ve worked in the industry for more than 20 years, starting off at 16-years-old as a part-time lifeguard in 1991. I worked at Raging Waters in Los Angeles, California, one of the larger waterparks in the United States, then Southland Entertainment, a company which had just bought Alabama Adventure, a 90-acre amusement park and waterpark. In 2008, I joined the Farah Leisure team as the general manager for Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. In this role, I’ve led the operations team through the feasibility and design process, the pre-opening and opening phase and currently lead the team in the full-time operation of the park.

How has the industry changed?
The biggest changes are in ride technology and our ability to have conversations with guests via social media.

What are the current trends?
The trend I see is the merging of traditional theme parks with waterparks. The major waterpark manufacturers, such as WhiteWater and Proslide Technologies, now offer rides and technologies only previously available in theme parks. Technologies such as Linear Induction Motors (LIM), interactive gaming, and special effects are where the investment’s taking place.

Traditional theme park manufacturers, such as Hopkins Rides, are now part of the WhiteWater portfolio. Giant interactive play structures are in theme parks, such as Legoland and Six Flags, and coasters are going into waterparks. This is an exciting trend and I hope it continues, as it creates unique experiences never experienced by our guests.

What makes Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi a success?
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi has been ranked among the top three waterparks in the world. It’s an experiential attraction with 43 rides, slides and attractions – including five one-of-a-kind rides that aren’t available in any other waterparks in the world.

The Emirati theme follows the story of a character called Dana and her search for a lost pearl that will restore her pearl diving village to prosperity. Live interactive shows, an atmospheric setting, thrilling rides and authentic souq-style shopping attractions ensure there’s something for all the family.

What are your future plans?
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi was built to be completed in one phase. However, there are approximately 2.5 hectares available for future expansion.

As we’ve only been operational since January this year, our focus is to continue to build awareness of our unique rides and attractions and continue to develop timely offers that are relevant to key holiday periods that offer our visitors great value.


 



Surfing is one of 43 rides, slides and attractions at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi


John Jakobsen Managing Director, Legoland Resorts – Waterpark Merlin Entertainments

 

John Jakobsen
 

How many waterparks does Merlin have?
Merlin Entertainments acquired its first two waterparks – Gardaland Waterpark in Milan, Italy and Alton Towers Resort, UK (indoor) – in 2006/7. These gave us the understanding and experience to open two more at Legoland California and Legoland Florida, with a fifth to open in Legoland Malaysia early next year.

What are a waterpark’s benefits?
Waterparks are a potential development for the group, not as stand-alone attractions, but as part of our broader resort strategy. This is designed to underline the short break/destination positioning of all our theme parks, with the addition of accommodation, second gate attractions, such as waterparks and Sea Life, and extensions to the core parks – all of which are working to significantly increase two- to three-day visits.

Waterparks can add another half, or often full, day’s activities and entertainment for our visitors, and they’ve been very successful for us. More than that, we’ve added to their appeal by developing supporting retail and catering brands, as well as exciting programmes of fun special events and live entertainment.

What are the challenges?
Unlike other theme parks, outdoor waterparks are very weather dependent, with shorter seasons and significant peaks and troughs of numbers, even when located in warm climates like California and Florida. The challenge, therefore, is the management of capacity – the acceptance that the operator needs to provide an excellent experience on fewer, but potentially very busy, days while also managing other much quieter days.

It’s a similar pattern to the queue management for standard water rides in theme parks, but on a much bigger scale. Building waterparks in locations like Florida or Malaysia helps to extend the season, but even there numbers will drop on an overcast day.

What are Merlin’s future plans?
The importance of water to the theme park experience, particularly in Legoland, means that we need to look at ways to incorporate it into other resorts in the future. This may be through the addition of water-based features to the main parks. Indoor parks may also be a natural extension to consider for other sites or as a separate gate to the theme park.


 



Waterplay is especially popular at Legoland parks as it appeals to young children


MIchel linet-frion Creative & Innovation Director Pierre & Vacances/Center Parcs Entertainments

 

MIchel linet-frion
 

What is your career history?
I’m a French architect. I’ve worked for about 30 years in the leisure industry for Walt Disney Imagineering, Parc Astérix/Grévin & Cie and am currently creative & innovation director for French leisure and real estate group Pierre & Vacances/Center Parcs.

After my time at Disney, my role has been to develop existing and new sites – to keep them attractive and innovative to ensure they remain popular.

How has the industry changed?
The best change was when theming was introduced as an ingredient for waterparks and all other attractions. It makes the parks timeless and more of an immersive experience, rather than a series of attractions.

How many Center Parcs are there?
Center Parcs was set up 40 years ago and now has more than 20 resorts in Europe, each with an indoor Aqua Mundo waterpark.

Aqua Mundo is the concept pillar of this brand. It’s a tropical waterpark in the sense that it’s planted as a real landscape in which we display our water attractions and beaches. The waterparks are between 4,000 and 7,000 sq m (43,000 and 75,000 sq ft) each, including indoor space, outdoor pools and slides. They’re open 365 days a year and each gets approximately one million visits annually by our guests, as they come every day of their stay.

What are the current trends?
Trends aren’t so important – it’s what comes after that we should aim for.

What are Center Parc’s future plans?
We know we need to keep innovating. When refurbishing our existing parks, we’re developing new attractions and experiences including: AquaLuba, an interactive water play structure including a zip wire and waterfall climbing; the next generation wild water river; Experience River, a sensory lazy river; a snorkelling experience with a side story and interaction with living animals; more outdoor water play and pools; and possibly new family experiences such as dive-in movies one evening a week or special night-time events.

We’re also looking at introducing new storylines and giving ourselves more theming opportunities to conceal the pool equipment, such as the slide tower.

All of these plans are with the aim of totally engaging our guests in our environments through theming and storytelling to make it a real experience.


 



Each Aqua Mundo waterpark gets a million visits a year


Christoph Kiessling Vice president Siam Park & Loro Parque Group, Tenerife

 

Christoph Kiessling
 

What is your career history?
My father is founder and president of Loro Parque, a zoological theme park in the north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, which opened in 1972. Even when I was a child, my father shared his observations about park operation with me and, in 1995, after completing my Masters in business management, finance and bank operation, I moved to Tenerife to join my father in the family enterprise. I started as a sales representative and made my way up through different departments and responsibilities up to my position as vice president of the Loro Parque SA in 2009.

In 2008 we opened the waterpark Siam Park, themed on the old kingdom of Thailand, in the south of Tenerife. The park covers 18.5 hectares (46 acres), 30 per cent of which we’ll expand on in the future. I was very involved with the building and launch and oversaw every process in the park. We focused on providing a high standard of architecture, vegetation and attractions.

How has the industry changed?
When I joined the industry in the 1990s, very few waterparks invested in theming. Now visitors expect higher quality, a story and more than just one attraction.

At Siam Park we invest more in theming than we do in waterslides to create an exciting combination of visuals and sensations.

What are the current trends?
The main trend is the search for increasingly spectacular rides. In the past, almost all waterparks were made up of one-person experiences in the form of bodyslides. Today it’s more common to have multiple people tubes, where people face each other and have a shared experience.

Other trends are multiple sensation rides and a combination of gravity and mechanical rides. Our rides offer varying speeds and thrill levels for all guests.

What are your future plans?
My plans are to keep on offering entertainment with the same dedication for details and holistic concepts.


In the 1990s, very few waterparks invested in theming. Now visitors expect higher quality, a story and more than just one attraction

 



Siam Park’s Tower of Power
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COMPANY PROFILES
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We’re a Yorkshire-based online printer, founded in 2009 by Adam Carnell and James Kinsella. [more...]
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Founded in 2014, Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attractions. [more...]
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We create guest experiences others don’t, masterplan like no one else can, and give the world’s bi [more...]
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Attractions industry to reunite this September at IAAPA Expo Europe in London
For the first time in more than a decade, industry leaders from across the global attractions industry will once again gather in London as part of the annual IAAPA Expo Europe, the sector’s premier international event. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion TV - Opening Event: FICO Eataly World
Last July 7th, Red Raion took part in the opening event of FICO Eataly World, the Italian theme park dedicated to food - the only one worldwide! Find out more...
More videos:
Red Raion TV - Testimonial: Leolandia – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
IAAPA Expo Europe Promo – International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

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