Waterparks - Splashing the cash | attractionsmanagement.com
POST YOUR JOB ONLINE
Free ezine/digital edition sign up
Jobs . News . Features . Video . Products . Magazine . Handbook . Advertise . Contact us  
Waterparks
Splashing the cash

Consultant David Camp looks at the waterparks sector, how it can benefit the rest of the industry and how to make your waterpark venture a financial success.

By David Camp | Published in Attractions Management 2019 issue 1

There’s been a lot of interest in waterparks in the past couple of years. Both Six Flags and Parques Reunidos have been busy in the sector and Europa Park is set to open their Rulantica waterpark expansion later this year. So why is there so much interest in this attraction type and how does it fit into the rest of the visitor attractions sector?

The numbers
To start you need to take a look at the numbers. Waterparks are cheaper to develop than theme parks. Six Flags invested less than US$20m to refurbish a waterpark in Oaxtepec, Mexico, that had been closed for a few years. Contrast this to the US$700m budget for the planned Six Flags theme park in Dubai (currently on hold due to financial issues), or the US$50m that Six Flags invested in Walibi Holland when they rebranded the park in 2000 and the difference is obvious.

Another important factor is that waterparks can generate higher operating profits than theme parks. While a strong performing theme park may deliver a 30-40 per cent operating profit margin on an annual basis, a strong waterpark can generate profits of 50 per cent or more.

Absolute revenues are very different – theme parks can generate far higher total revenues than waterparks – but having a number of profitable waterparks within a portfolio can be very good for business.

Six Flags, for example, has seven waterparks among its 20 operations and Parques Reunidos has 20 within its total group of 60 units. The profits from these operations are important for the overall business returns on these investments.

Weather warning
The most obvious issue for waterpark operations is the weather. With many of these attractions only opening for 100 or so days a year, and with 40-50 per cent of annual visits coming during their busiest month, just a couple of weeks of bad weather in the peak summer period can wipe out any potential profits.

This has led to waterparks in more northerly climes being developed indoors, however, that hasn’t always been a wise move. While an indoor waterpark can open all year round, demand is still stronger in the summer months than in the winter.

Opening all year also requires significantly more staffing, heating and other operational costs than a seasonal business and there are few free-standing indoor waterparks that can operate without some form of financial support. In many countries, this support often comes from the public sector.

Water gains
One way to make an indoor venture successful is to combine it with other activities. Operations such as Center Parcs and Lalandia in Europe, along with Great Wolf and Kalahari Resorts in North America have utilised the appeal of a year-round indoor waterpark and created large scale resort operations with significant accommodation offers.

Center Parcs’ resorts can accommodate up to 3,000 guests at one time within the accommodation and the Kalahari Resort in Pocono has a 22,000sq m (237,000sq ft) waterpark, 1,000 bedrooms and a 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft) entertainment centre. In these destinations, the waterpark serves to differentiate the resort and attract guests to stay over, with the hotel able to charge stronger room rates than other accommodation in the local area due to the presence of the waterpark.

While the Kalahari is large it’s dwarfed by Tropical Islands, a waterpark just south of Berlin, Germany, which opened in 2004.

Created within a 70,000sq m (753,000sq ft) former zeppelin hanger, the owners rapidly realised that the only way to make money from the business was to add an accommodation option.

Although the development was slow at first, an ambitious masterplan was developed for the 6.4sq km (2.5sq mi) site. This led to approval being received in 2017 for a resort expansion that would allow for the development of up to 9,000 bedrooms. This expansion potential was a major factor in Parques Reunidos decision to pay €226m (US$256m) for the waterpark and its associated real estate in 2018.

Another important area of waterpark development is as a second gate.

The majority of Six Flags’ waterparks are located alongside their theme park operations, PortAventura has had a waterpark since 2002, and the Looping Group has been adding waterpark elements to its park operations in recent years.

Global developments
The opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark in Orlando was the big news of 2017. The immersive waterpark experience attracted 1.5 million guests in its first year to complement the ever-increasing visitor volumes at the company’s other two Orlando theme parks.

There have been other new park developments around the world, many of these opening in Asia. China is now home to the world’s most visited waterpark, Chimelong Waterpark in Guangzhou, which attracted 2.7 million visits in 2017.

The latest major European waterpark expansion is at Europa Park, which is investing an estimated €150m (US$170m) in the creation of a 33,000sq m (355,000sq ft) waterpark with hotel accommodation (see p60). Called Rulantica, this, says Europa Park, will complement the existing theme park and help build on the 5.6 million people that already visit the resort each year.

While helping the team at Europa Park to plan this expansion, we examined a number of theme park and waterpark destinations around the world.

We discovered that waterparks built near to theme parks are typically able to achieve attendance levels of between 10-20 per cent of the associated theme park visitor numbers, and often the admission prices for the waterpark are not far below those of the theme park. This is a significant additional volume of visitors and revenues that can make a major contribution to the finances of a resort.

Technological leaps
As with theme parks, there’s a need for waterparks to invest regularly in their rides and activities to keep visitors returning, and there have been some exciting advances in waterpark rides in recent years.

The Master Blaster’s development in 1996 was a major advance as it allowed riders to be pushed uphill, creating a rollercoaster-style water attraction. This has been further developed with HydroMagnetic and Zip Coasters that create theme park-style thrills within waterparks.

In recent years, waterpark ride manufacturers have increased the size and impact of bowl rides, funnel rides and halfpipe slides. Whitewater West has also developed a looping waterpark ride.

Surfing technology has also rapidly improved through the years, with a range of different rides now available that allow guests to safely experience the thrill of surfing within either a waterpark environment or on a surfing lagoon.

Final thoughts
While the world is becoming ever more digital and virtual, family water play still has a refreshingly enduring appeal. This, combined with the exciting new rides and attractions that being developed each year, will serve to continue the industry well and drive more developments in the future.

More than 30 million people visited the world’s top 20 waterparks in 2017
Due to its seasonality, the European attractions market offers a mix of indoor and outdoor waterpark facilities
More and more often, waterparks are being used to boost the profits of an already existing successful venture, such as a theme park
COMPANY PROFILE
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

EAS rebrands to IAAPA Expo Europe ahead of 2019 show in Paris
The Euro Attractions Show has been rebranded as the IAAPA Expo Europe ahead of this year's event at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion - Trailer Peter Pan - Saving Tinkerbell VR
Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Online Print Made Easy! – instantprint
Experience the experience – Polin Waterparks & Pool Systems
Simworx - The power to move you… – Simworx
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

16-19 Sep 2019

IAAPA Expo Europe 2019

Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Paris, France
21-24 Sep 2019

ASTC 2019 Annual Conference

Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Canada
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

Attractions Management

2019 issue 2


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2019 issue 1


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2018 issue 4


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2018 issue 3


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management News

07 Aug 2019 issue 136


View on turning pages
Download PDF
View archive
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Handbook

2019


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019
Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Waterparks
Splashing the cash

Consultant David Camp looks at the waterparks sector, how it can benefit the rest of the industry and how to make your waterpark venture a financial success.

By David Camp | Published in Attractions Management 2019 issue 1

There’s been a lot of interest in waterparks in the past couple of years. Both Six Flags and Parques Reunidos have been busy in the sector and Europa Park is set to open their Rulantica waterpark expansion later this year. So why is there so much interest in this attraction type and how does it fit into the rest of the visitor attractions sector?

The numbers
To start you need to take a look at the numbers. Waterparks are cheaper to develop than theme parks. Six Flags invested less than US$20m to refurbish a waterpark in Oaxtepec, Mexico, that had been closed for a few years. Contrast this to the US$700m budget for the planned Six Flags theme park in Dubai (currently on hold due to financial issues), or the US$50m that Six Flags invested in Walibi Holland when they rebranded the park in 2000 and the difference is obvious.

Another important factor is that waterparks can generate higher operating profits than theme parks. While a strong performing theme park may deliver a 30-40 per cent operating profit margin on an annual basis, a strong waterpark can generate profits of 50 per cent or more.

Absolute revenues are very different – theme parks can generate far higher total revenues than waterparks – but having a number of profitable waterparks within a portfolio can be very good for business.

Six Flags, for example, has seven waterparks among its 20 operations and Parques Reunidos has 20 within its total group of 60 units. The profits from these operations are important for the overall business returns on these investments.

Weather warning
The most obvious issue for waterpark operations is the weather. With many of these attractions only opening for 100 or so days a year, and with 40-50 per cent of annual visits coming during their busiest month, just a couple of weeks of bad weather in the peak summer period can wipe out any potential profits.

This has led to waterparks in more northerly climes being developed indoors, however, that hasn’t always been a wise move. While an indoor waterpark can open all year round, demand is still stronger in the summer months than in the winter.

Opening all year also requires significantly more staffing, heating and other operational costs than a seasonal business and there are few free-standing indoor waterparks that can operate without some form of financial support. In many countries, this support often comes from the public sector.

Water gains
One way to make an indoor venture successful is to combine it with other activities. Operations such as Center Parcs and Lalandia in Europe, along with Great Wolf and Kalahari Resorts in North America have utilised the appeal of a year-round indoor waterpark and created large scale resort operations with significant accommodation offers.

Center Parcs’ resorts can accommodate up to 3,000 guests at one time within the accommodation and the Kalahari Resort in Pocono has a 22,000sq m (237,000sq ft) waterpark, 1,000 bedrooms and a 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft) entertainment centre. In these destinations, the waterpark serves to differentiate the resort and attract guests to stay over, with the hotel able to charge stronger room rates than other accommodation in the local area due to the presence of the waterpark.

While the Kalahari is large it’s dwarfed by Tropical Islands, a waterpark just south of Berlin, Germany, which opened in 2004.

Created within a 70,000sq m (753,000sq ft) former zeppelin hanger, the owners rapidly realised that the only way to make money from the business was to add an accommodation option.

Although the development was slow at first, an ambitious masterplan was developed for the 6.4sq km (2.5sq mi) site. This led to approval being received in 2017 for a resort expansion that would allow for the development of up to 9,000 bedrooms. This expansion potential was a major factor in Parques Reunidos decision to pay €226m (US$256m) for the waterpark and its associated real estate in 2018.

Another important area of waterpark development is as a second gate.

The majority of Six Flags’ waterparks are located alongside their theme park operations, PortAventura has had a waterpark since 2002, and the Looping Group has been adding waterpark elements to its park operations in recent years.

Global developments
The opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark in Orlando was the big news of 2017. The immersive waterpark experience attracted 1.5 million guests in its first year to complement the ever-increasing visitor volumes at the company’s other two Orlando theme parks.

There have been other new park developments around the world, many of these opening in Asia. China is now home to the world’s most visited waterpark, Chimelong Waterpark in Guangzhou, which attracted 2.7 million visits in 2017.

The latest major European waterpark expansion is at Europa Park, which is investing an estimated €150m (US$170m) in the creation of a 33,000sq m (355,000sq ft) waterpark with hotel accommodation (see p60). Called Rulantica, this, says Europa Park, will complement the existing theme park and help build on the 5.6 million people that already visit the resort each year.

While helping the team at Europa Park to plan this expansion, we examined a number of theme park and waterpark destinations around the world.

We discovered that waterparks built near to theme parks are typically able to achieve attendance levels of between 10-20 per cent of the associated theme park visitor numbers, and often the admission prices for the waterpark are not far below those of the theme park. This is a significant additional volume of visitors and revenues that can make a major contribution to the finances of a resort.

Technological leaps
As with theme parks, there’s a need for waterparks to invest regularly in their rides and activities to keep visitors returning, and there have been some exciting advances in waterpark rides in recent years.

The Master Blaster’s development in 1996 was a major advance as it allowed riders to be pushed uphill, creating a rollercoaster-style water attraction. This has been further developed with HydroMagnetic and Zip Coasters that create theme park-style thrills within waterparks.

In recent years, waterpark ride manufacturers have increased the size and impact of bowl rides, funnel rides and halfpipe slides. Whitewater West has also developed a looping waterpark ride.

Surfing technology has also rapidly improved through the years, with a range of different rides now available that allow guests to safely experience the thrill of surfing within either a waterpark environment or on a surfing lagoon.

Final thoughts
While the world is becoming ever more digital and virtual, family water play still has a refreshingly enduring appeal. This, combined with the exciting new rides and attractions that being developed each year, will serve to continue the industry well and drive more developments in the future.

More than 30 million people visited the world’s top 20 waterparks in 2017
Due to its seasonality, the European attractions market offers a mix of indoor and outdoor waterpark facilities
More and more often, waterparks are being used to boost the profits of an already existing successful venture, such as a theme park
LATEST NEWS
Australian Museum closes for year-long AUS$57.5m renovation
A major renovation project that will expand touring exhibition halls and create several new facilities at the Australian Museum in Sydney will see the venue closed to the public from 19 August.
Silver Dollar City announces record-breaking waterfall drop ride among US$30m plans
The tallest raft ride drop in the Western Hemisphere is coming to Silver Dollar City, after the park revealed plans to invest more than US$30m (€26.9m, £24.8m) into a number of new developments.
New York's largest waterpark set for expansion after acquiring state funding
Construction is set to start in September on new water slides at the Enchanted Forest Water Safari theme park in New York, US, with a funding contribution for the new rides having come from the state's economic development agency.
NBA Experience opens doors at Disney Springs
The NBA Experience, an immersive and interactive new attraction at Disney Springs in Florida, has celebrated its grand opening, with Disney CEO Bob Iger and NBA commissioner Adam Silver unveiling the new venture.
Toyota opens branded experience centre in Texas
Car manufacturer Toyota has opened its first visitor attraction in North America – the 44,000sq ft (13,400sq m) Toyota Experience Center (TEC) at its headquarters in Plano, Texas.
Waterway above Notre Dame among 'People's Design Competition' for new cathedral roof
A competition to find alternative designs to replace the destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral roof has attracted a number of innovative "solutions" – including a rooftop waterway over the medieval cathedral.
Rising curatorial talents win Art Fund financing to build museum collections
The UK's Art Fund has announced the latest winners of its New Collecting Awards, chosen to help rising star curators to build collections for their museums.
Helter-skelter ride installed inside Norwich Cathedral
A 55-ft (16.8m) helter-skelter ride set up in the nave of Norwich Cathedral in England, will give visitors a new perspective on the historic building, say cathedral bosses.
Matthias Li to step down as Ocean Park CEO in 2020
Following 25 years of service, Matthias Li, chief executive of Hong Kong attraction Ocean Park, has announced that he will retire at the start of July 2020, with the operator starting a global search to identify his successor.
New Euromonitor report envisions entertainment venue of the future
Entertainment venues need to undergo technological and design upgrades to prepare them for the experience-seeking consumer of 2040, according to research by Euromonitor International.
Tintagel Castle bridge restores 500-year-old connection as £5m heritage project opens to the public
A £5m (US$6m, €5.4m) programme of improvements by English Heritage at Cornish tourist attraction Tintagel Castle has reached a milestone, with the opening of a footbridge that joins the two halves of the castle for the first time in more than 500 years.
Attendance decline at Disney as new Star Wars attraction fails to draw in visitors
Despite its domestic parks achieving record revenue over the last three months, it's been a tough quarter for Disney, which fell short of expected visitor figures following the launch of its new Star Wars addition in California.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILE
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

EAS rebrands to IAAPA Expo Europe ahead of 2019 show in Paris
The Euro Attractions Show has been rebranded as the IAAPA Expo Europe ahead of this year's event at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion - Trailer Peter Pan - Saving Tinkerbell VR
Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Online Print Made Easy! – instantprint
Experience the experience – Polin Waterparks & Pool Systems
Simworx - The power to move you… – Simworx
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

16-19 Sep 2019

IAAPA Expo Europe 2019

Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Paris, France
21-24 Sep 2019

ASTC 2019 Annual Conference

Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Canada
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS