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Waterparks
Under the Weather

A major waterpark has opened in Texas boasting a retractable roof. Come rain or shine, this ‘epic’ year-round attraction is set to wow its visitors

By Alice Davis | Published in Attractions Management 2018 issue 1

In Grand Prairie, Texas, the average January temperature is -13°C (9°F), but that didn’t stop a new waterpark opening its doors at the beginning of this year.

Even in July, it’s hardly sweltering, around 16°C (61°F). So it’s a good job that this $88m attraction is fully covered and insulated – making it the largest indoor waterpark under a custom curved retractable roof in the US.

It saves energy on warm days when the roof can be opened, reducing the need for air conditioning, and means the waterpark is open and operating even when it’s cold and wet outside.

Appropriately named Epic Waters, the 7,400sqm indoor/outdoor attraction is operated by hospitality management firm American Resort Management and it’s the first step in the 696,000sqm Epic Grand Central recreation centre development. A lifestyle centre, called The Epic, is to open later in the year along with an accessible playground, PlayGrand Adventures, and an amphitheatre.

The city parks department pushed forward the project and is receiving praise for developing one of the most important community water facilities in the US in many years.

“Grand Prairie is generating a lot of interest in our industry,” says Steve Brinkel, president of the parks and recreation division at WhiteWater West, who supplied the rides at Epic Waters. “A lot of other cities and recreation departments are looking at this project with admiration. This development will set a new standard of what a community development can be, with the right plan, team, and, most of all, vision for community.”

Epic Waters has been designed by Wisconsin-based architecture and engineering firm Ramaker and Associates, with attractions supplied by WhiteWater and the retractable polycarbonate roof by OpenAire. We spoke to the people who helped bring this epic project to fruition.



Suzanne Doody Business development manager Ramaker & Associates

 

Suzanne Doody
 

This is a major waterpark, in size, scale and cost. Can you explain what makes this an “epic” attraction?
It’s definitely epic! At 80,000 square feet, you don’t see many indoor waterparks of this size, especially in a community recreation setting. The Epic team was all-in for a large waterpark and the community voted to use tax dollars to build something that fit the energy and grandness of the city.

What was the inspiration for this design?
The Jay Peak Pump House [an indoor waterpark in Jay, Vermont], The Summit at Grand Prairie [a fitness centre for the over 50s], and the city of Grand Prairie are all inspirations for the design. The Epic team visited the Jay Peak Pump House and were amazed by the openness, natural light and all the activities within. The Summit at Grand Prairie, which preceded the Epic, was so well received that the city knew they could provide their community with more amenities. And Grand Prairie itself is a fast-growing city in the Dallas metroplex, where everything is big and grand. This could not be missed when it came to building a new waterpark.

What story does the waterpark tell? Are there any elements relating to theming or storytelling?
The waterpark has a vibrant atmosphere. From the brightly coloured waterslides and play structure to the decorative table umbrellas and party rooms to the plethora of natural light from the OpenAire structure, Epic is bright and sunny.

What makes this waterpark different to other waterparks you’ve worked on?
The enthusiasm and commitment of the Epic team and the many “firsts” make this project different. While most owners and operators are happy to be building a waterpark that will bring nothing but smiles to people, the Epic team was 100 per cent behind everything they could do to make their park special. Part of this were the “firsts” and “bests” designed into the park. The Lassoloop is the nation’s tallest indoor AquaLoop slide. The Yellow Jacket Drop is the first slide of its kind as a fusion inner tube slide. The Aquanaut is the first double-rider inner tube slide of its kind and the lazy river is one of the longest in the US.


 



Epic Waters boasts a wide selection of slides and activities, including the Lassoloop, Yellow Jacket Drop and Aquanaut
ON OFFER AT EPIC WATERS

• 11 waterslides
• Outdoor wave pool
• Activity pool and children’s area
• FlowRider surf simulator
• Lazy river
• Shop
• Arcade
• Food and beverage outlets
• Full-service bar
• Cabana rentals
• Birthday parties
• Group outings and private rentals
• Event and meeting space

 



Epic waters


Daryl Matzke Project manager Ramaker & Associates

 

Daryl Matzke
 

What was Ramaker’s role on this project?
Ramaker was the aquatic design engineer.

Why did the role appeal to you?
From the first time we met with the Epic team, we could see the passion and dedication these people had to their community. They truly wanted to not only create a one-of-a-kind waterpark, but also to make it so that everyone in the Grand Prairie area would have access to a truly amazing family-oriented fun zone.

Please describe the waterpark’s design.
The waterpark is capable of showing patrons everything it has to offer through a tiered design. From the moment you walk in the door, you can take in all the attractions. Directly in front of you is the zero-depth entry beach and lazy river. As your eye wanders up and back you see the activity pool and large, multi-level play structure. Then if you continue to look up, you follow the stairs of the slide tower complex up to the three separate landings that offer a fun and exciting ride from each level. This all culminates at the top of the slide tower with the Lassoloop and the drop-away floor that will send you speeding back down to the main level again.

What have been the challenges in designing and building the waterpark? How did you overcome these?
Incorporating all of the requested elements into the waterpark, within the space provided, while keeping the feel of the park open, was one of the main challenges. In order to not have one attraction feel like it was too close to another attraction, or a wall, our design team had to be resourceful when it came to efficient use of space. This was accomplished through both the OpenAire structure that allows light and fresh air into the waterpark, along with the tiered pool design that allowed for some separation between attractions.


 



The family-focused waterpark offers a huge aquaplay structure for younger kids and lots of food and beverage options


Mark Albertine President and CEO OpenAire

 

Mark Albertine
 

This was a mega project! Is this one of the largest jobs you’ve had to date?
It’s certainly one of OpenAire’s larger projects. Epic Waters has set a record for the largest indoor waterpark under a single retractable roof in the US, but we have been building record-breaking enclosures around the world for years. Aqua Sferra Water Park in Donetsk, Ukraine, was built in 2012 and holds the record for the largest freestanding retractable dome in the world, as well as the biggest aluminium dome in the world. Last year, we also finished a series of skylights and a large retractable roof for a two-phase expansion at Kalahari Pocono Mountains Resort in Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. That renovation brought Kalahari to 220,000 square feet, making it the largest indoor waterpark in the US.

What material is used?
Epic Waters was built using OpenAire’s exclusive, thermally broken aluminium truss system. Our aluminium structures are lightweight, naturally rust-proof and require virtually no maintenance. This makes OpenAire roofs perfect for waterparks, which are exposed to moisture and pool chemicals constantly. We also used large, glazed polycarbonate panels on the roof to let in the sun throughout the year. With all this natural light and the very large span of the structure, Epic Waters really feels like an outdoor waterpark. It creates a great atmosphere for guests and it will save Grand Prairie a great deal on energy and maintenance in the long term. The operable enclosure reduces the need for air conditioning and dehumidification, which is estimated to cut Epic Waters’ energy use by up to 27 per cent annually compared to traditional structures. It’s an exciting, year-round design with tremendous long-term value.

What were the main challenges you faced on this project?
Every project has some challenges. At Epic Waters, multiple contractors were working within the same space, so it required careful coordination to make sure we all achieved what needed to be done. We were fortunate to have a great team, all working under the site supervision of Lee Lewis.

Are indoor waterparks growing in popularity?
Yes, not only indoor waterparks, but outdoor waterparks too are on the rise across the US and internationally. It makes complete sense for waterparks to operate as year-round facilities and not just seasonally, and retractable roof enclosures are one of the best ways to design a year-round park. An indoor retractable roofed waterpark gives all the sunshine and fresh air of an outdoor park along with the shelter of an indoor park. Communities all over are realising how big these advantages are: the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) reported that 24 municipal waterparks were built in the US from 2014 to 2015, and that number did not include private waterparks. At OpenAire, we see how popular they are every day. After 25 years in operation, we have built close to 1,000 retractable roof projects around the globe, each one custom designed to our clients’ needs.


"An indoor retractable roofed waterpark gives all the sunshine and fresh air of an outdoor park along with the shelter of an indoor park"

 



Epic Waters is one of the largest indoor waterparks in the US and it’s protected by a custom-made retractable roof by OpenAire


Nancy Patterson Director, design and business development OpenAire

 

Nancy Patterson
 

What makes Epic Waters special or different?
Epic Waters is not just a waterpark; it’s part of Grand Prairie’s plan to make Epic Grand Central the grandest recreation complex possible for its residents. Epic Waters is a large park with many exciting attractions in its own right, but it’s also part of a 172-acre complex with indoor and outdoor facilities designed to meet the needs of people of all ages, abilities and demographics. When it’s finished, Epic Grand Central will be a true hub for this city – there will be something for everyone. We’re honoured that Epic Waters and its year-round enclosure were a key part of the Grand Central vision from the start of development.

Is the structure built to survive extreme weather conditions?
Yes; OpenAire structures have been proven to perform in all climates. Our team of engineers and manufacturers has built retractable enclosures around the globe to withstand the weight of heavy snow loads in Vermont, insulate against subarctic temperatures in Moscow, Russia, offer natural ventilation in arid areas such as the UAE, withstand seismic disturbances in regions such as California, and continue functioning in high winds and heavy rains during hurricane season. We’re ready for practically any requirement in any location.

What other design attributes are there?
Epic Waters opens to the outside from all angles: from above thanks to its 40 retractable roof panels, from the sides with its 35 sliding windows and 18 motorised pivot windows, and of course, five main doors and three overhead doors. Probably the most exciting feature about Epic Waters is that it has the advantages of two parks in one. The retractable roof panels offer all the sunlight and fresh air of an outdoor park, plus the year-round reliability of an indoor park.

How does the retractable roof work? The retractable panels on the main roof and in the cupola have separate controls and can be operated= independently. The motorised roof panels take 12 minutes to open fully. There are also 18 motorised centre-pivot windows that open easily. Both sets of panels are controlled by the operator and can be opened or closed at the touch of a button. The opened structure creates a chimney effect, allowing the air to come in through the side windows and push upwards and out through the roof. This natural process circulates air and vents moisture.

How long did it take to build?
OpenAire worked on concept, design, engineering, fabrication and installation. A team of 15 installers worked to build the enclosure and cupola. Construction started in December 2016 and the entire structure was completed by November of 2017. Epic Waters required 35 shipments of materials on 53-foot flatbed trucks; 280 tons of aluminium; 54 columns, 27 rafters and 77,300 square feet of polycarbonate; and 34,000 square feet of glass.


 



An exterior view shows the slide path exiting and re-entering the building and the cupola at the top
FAST FACTS

OpenAire

Cost: $88m
Size: 7,400sqm (80,000sq ft)
Rides: 11 waterslides, outdoor wave pool, lazy river
Amenities: retail store, arcade, F&B outlets, bar, cabanas
Operator: American Resort Management
Expected attendance: 500,000
Adult ticket: $14 (resident), $24 (non-resident)

 




Eric Sinclair Project manager WhiteWater West

 

Eric Sinclair
 

What was the design process?
The design process was in two stages. In the pre-contract stage, everybody gets together and tries to decide what the vision of the park is. The city took a big role on that and did a lot of background research by visiting a lot of waterparks. They liked a lot of elements from Jay Peak Pump House so we started from there. Architect HKS was steering the project and pulling all the elements together. We bring to the table almost 40 years in the waterpark business and we’ve built a lot of waterparks. That enables us to take a somewhat unique place at the design table in terms of people wanting to know what we’ve seen and done in other parks, what ride mix we recommend and so on.

What’s special about the experience?
The roof of Epic Waters waterpark boasts a glass cupola with our slide tower inside it. As you ascend the tower, you see all these people flying around you in different directions and when you get to top, about 60 feet high, and you’re standing on the tower, it’s probably one of the best views in the Dallas area. You can see right across the city. There’s a lot more going on than just getting the nerve to ride the AquaLoop.

What ride mix did you install?
We specially designed a couple of rides for the park. The client wanted something new that no other park had yet so we custom created some slides. Alongside the regular flumes, there’s the first indoor inner tube Boomerango plus Constrictor fusion – which they called Yellow Jacket Drop – the US’s tallest AquaLoop, called Lassoloop, and a AquaSphere slide called Aquanaut. Epic’s Aquanaut is also the first indoor inner tube AquaSphere. Riders take high-speed twists and turns down an enclosed serpentine flume before zooming into giant spheres where their tubes make huge oscillations on 90-degree corners. The park also has our FlowRider Double surf simulator and the longest lazy river in Texas.

Did you provide any waterplay features for younger children?
We provided an AquaPlay 1050, which is a sizeable unit. Usually, indoor parks aren’t large enough to accommodate this massive multi-level play structure, but there’s nothing ‘usual’ about Epic. It looks great in the space and provides an interactive focal point where families can play.

What was the main challenge you faced?
The tolerances were probably the most challenging. It was crucial all the parties – HKS, Ramaker, OpenAire, Lee Lewis and us – worked closely at the beginning to make sure the drawings were spot on. When you’re inside the waterpark, for example, one of the AquaSpheres sits between the roof structure, and that roof moves, so it was vital the AquaSphere was rightly placed where it wouldn’t interfere with any of the roof beams. Even though the park is 80,000 square feet, we filled the space up pretty tight. There are six building penetrations where three slides start inside and go outside and come back in. The wall is glass so you have to make sure the penetrations are made and resealed correctly. You can’t even be off by a few inches or you’ll run into the framing of the glass. If you look at our 3D CAD model, it’s pretty insane how we fit all this in and made sure every detail is accounted for. By and large, that planning paid off when it came to the installation phase and luckily places where we were worried about it being close tolerance turned out fine.


"If you look at our 3D CAD model, it’s pretty insane how we fit all this in and made sure every detail is accounted for"

 



WhiteWater’s mat racer slides are always popular with guests
Project Parties

WhiteWater West

Owner/client: The City of Grand Prairie
Architects: HKS
Water Consultant: Ramaker & Associates
Rides and attractions: WhiteWater West
Retractable Roof: OpenAire
Construction Company: Lee Lewis Construction
Management: American Resort Management
Feasibility Consultant: Hotel & Leisure Advisors

 


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Waterparks
Under the Weather

A major waterpark has opened in Texas boasting a retractable roof. Come rain or shine, this ‘epic’ year-round attraction is set to wow its visitors

By Alice Davis | Published in Attractions Management 2018 issue 1

In Grand Prairie, Texas, the average January temperature is -13°C (9°F), but that didn’t stop a new waterpark opening its doors at the beginning of this year.

Even in July, it’s hardly sweltering, around 16°C (61°F). So it’s a good job that this $88m attraction is fully covered and insulated – making it the largest indoor waterpark under a custom curved retractable roof in the US.

It saves energy on warm days when the roof can be opened, reducing the need for air conditioning, and means the waterpark is open and operating even when it’s cold and wet outside.

Appropriately named Epic Waters, the 7,400sqm indoor/outdoor attraction is operated by hospitality management firm American Resort Management and it’s the first step in the 696,000sqm Epic Grand Central recreation centre development. A lifestyle centre, called The Epic, is to open later in the year along with an accessible playground, PlayGrand Adventures, and an amphitheatre.

The city parks department pushed forward the project and is receiving praise for developing one of the most important community water facilities in the US in many years.

“Grand Prairie is generating a lot of interest in our industry,” says Steve Brinkel, president of the parks and recreation division at WhiteWater West, who supplied the rides at Epic Waters. “A lot of other cities and recreation departments are looking at this project with admiration. This development will set a new standard of what a community development can be, with the right plan, team, and, most of all, vision for community.”

Epic Waters has been designed by Wisconsin-based architecture and engineering firm Ramaker and Associates, with attractions supplied by WhiteWater and the retractable polycarbonate roof by OpenAire. We spoke to the people who helped bring this epic project to fruition.



Suzanne Doody Business development manager Ramaker & Associates

 

Suzanne Doody
 

This is a major waterpark, in size, scale and cost. Can you explain what makes this an “epic” attraction?
It’s definitely epic! At 80,000 square feet, you don’t see many indoor waterparks of this size, especially in a community recreation setting. The Epic team was all-in for a large waterpark and the community voted to use tax dollars to build something that fit the energy and grandness of the city.

What was the inspiration for this design?
The Jay Peak Pump House [an indoor waterpark in Jay, Vermont], The Summit at Grand Prairie [a fitness centre for the over 50s], and the city of Grand Prairie are all inspirations for the design. The Epic team visited the Jay Peak Pump House and were amazed by the openness, natural light and all the activities within. The Summit at Grand Prairie, which preceded the Epic, was so well received that the city knew they could provide their community with more amenities. And Grand Prairie itself is a fast-growing city in the Dallas metroplex, where everything is big and grand. This could not be missed when it came to building a new waterpark.

What story does the waterpark tell? Are there any elements relating to theming or storytelling?
The waterpark has a vibrant atmosphere. From the brightly coloured waterslides and play structure to the decorative table umbrellas and party rooms to the plethora of natural light from the OpenAire structure, Epic is bright and sunny.

What makes this waterpark different to other waterparks you’ve worked on?
The enthusiasm and commitment of the Epic team and the many “firsts” make this project different. While most owners and operators are happy to be building a waterpark that will bring nothing but smiles to people, the Epic team was 100 per cent behind everything they could do to make their park special. Part of this were the “firsts” and “bests” designed into the park. The Lassoloop is the nation’s tallest indoor AquaLoop slide. The Yellow Jacket Drop is the first slide of its kind as a fusion inner tube slide. The Aquanaut is the first double-rider inner tube slide of its kind and the lazy river is one of the longest in the US.


 



Epic Waters boasts a wide selection of slides and activities, including the Lassoloop, Yellow Jacket Drop and Aquanaut
ON OFFER AT EPIC WATERS

• 11 waterslides
• Outdoor wave pool
• Activity pool and children’s area
• FlowRider surf simulator
• Lazy river
• Shop
• Arcade
• Food and beverage outlets
• Full-service bar
• Cabana rentals
• Birthday parties
• Group outings and private rentals
• Event and meeting space

 



Epic waters


Daryl Matzke Project manager Ramaker & Associates

 

Daryl Matzke
 

What was Ramaker’s role on this project?
Ramaker was the aquatic design engineer.

Why did the role appeal to you?
From the first time we met with the Epic team, we could see the passion and dedication these people had to their community. They truly wanted to not only create a one-of-a-kind waterpark, but also to make it so that everyone in the Grand Prairie area would have access to a truly amazing family-oriented fun zone.

Please describe the waterpark’s design.
The waterpark is capable of showing patrons everything it has to offer through a tiered design. From the moment you walk in the door, you can take in all the attractions. Directly in front of you is the zero-depth entry beach and lazy river. As your eye wanders up and back you see the activity pool and large, multi-level play structure. Then if you continue to look up, you follow the stairs of the slide tower complex up to the three separate landings that offer a fun and exciting ride from each level. This all culminates at the top of the slide tower with the Lassoloop and the drop-away floor that will send you speeding back down to the main level again.

What have been the challenges in designing and building the waterpark? How did you overcome these?
Incorporating all of the requested elements into the waterpark, within the space provided, while keeping the feel of the park open, was one of the main challenges. In order to not have one attraction feel like it was too close to another attraction, or a wall, our design team had to be resourceful when it came to efficient use of space. This was accomplished through both the OpenAire structure that allows light and fresh air into the waterpark, along with the tiered pool design that allowed for some separation between attractions.


 



The family-focused waterpark offers a huge aquaplay structure for younger kids and lots of food and beverage options


Mark Albertine President and CEO OpenAire

 

Mark Albertine
 

This was a mega project! Is this one of the largest jobs you’ve had to date?
It’s certainly one of OpenAire’s larger projects. Epic Waters has set a record for the largest indoor waterpark under a single retractable roof in the US, but we have been building record-breaking enclosures around the world for years. Aqua Sferra Water Park in Donetsk, Ukraine, was built in 2012 and holds the record for the largest freestanding retractable dome in the world, as well as the biggest aluminium dome in the world. Last year, we also finished a series of skylights and a large retractable roof for a two-phase expansion at Kalahari Pocono Mountains Resort in Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. That renovation brought Kalahari to 220,000 square feet, making it the largest indoor waterpark in the US.

What material is used?
Epic Waters was built using OpenAire’s exclusive, thermally broken aluminium truss system. Our aluminium structures are lightweight, naturally rust-proof and require virtually no maintenance. This makes OpenAire roofs perfect for waterparks, which are exposed to moisture and pool chemicals constantly. We also used large, glazed polycarbonate panels on the roof to let in the sun throughout the year. With all this natural light and the very large span of the structure, Epic Waters really feels like an outdoor waterpark. It creates a great atmosphere for guests and it will save Grand Prairie a great deal on energy and maintenance in the long term. The operable enclosure reduces the need for air conditioning and dehumidification, which is estimated to cut Epic Waters’ energy use by up to 27 per cent annually compared to traditional structures. It’s an exciting, year-round design with tremendous long-term value.

What were the main challenges you faced on this project?
Every project has some challenges. At Epic Waters, multiple contractors were working within the same space, so it required careful coordination to make sure we all achieved what needed to be done. We were fortunate to have a great team, all working under the site supervision of Lee Lewis.

Are indoor waterparks growing in popularity?
Yes, not only indoor waterparks, but outdoor waterparks too are on the rise across the US and internationally. It makes complete sense for waterparks to operate as year-round facilities and not just seasonally, and retractable roof enclosures are one of the best ways to design a year-round park. An indoor retractable roofed waterpark gives all the sunshine and fresh air of an outdoor park along with the shelter of an indoor park. Communities all over are realising how big these advantages are: the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) reported that 24 municipal waterparks were built in the US from 2014 to 2015, and that number did not include private waterparks. At OpenAire, we see how popular they are every day. After 25 years in operation, we have built close to 1,000 retractable roof projects around the globe, each one custom designed to our clients’ needs.


"An indoor retractable roofed waterpark gives all the sunshine and fresh air of an outdoor park along with the shelter of an indoor park"

 



Epic Waters is one of the largest indoor waterparks in the US and it’s protected by a custom-made retractable roof by OpenAire


Nancy Patterson Director, design and business development OpenAire

 

Nancy Patterson
 

What makes Epic Waters special or different?
Epic Waters is not just a waterpark; it’s part of Grand Prairie’s plan to make Epic Grand Central the grandest recreation complex possible for its residents. Epic Waters is a large park with many exciting attractions in its own right, but it’s also part of a 172-acre complex with indoor and outdoor facilities designed to meet the needs of people of all ages, abilities and demographics. When it’s finished, Epic Grand Central will be a true hub for this city – there will be something for everyone. We’re honoured that Epic Waters and its year-round enclosure were a key part of the Grand Central vision from the start of development.

Is the structure built to survive extreme weather conditions?
Yes; OpenAire structures have been proven to perform in all climates. Our team of engineers and manufacturers has built retractable enclosures around the globe to withstand the weight of heavy snow loads in Vermont, insulate against subarctic temperatures in Moscow, Russia, offer natural ventilation in arid areas such as the UAE, withstand seismic disturbances in regions such as California, and continue functioning in high winds and heavy rains during hurricane season. We’re ready for practically any requirement in any location.

What other design attributes are there?
Epic Waters opens to the outside from all angles: from above thanks to its 40 retractable roof panels, from the sides with its 35 sliding windows and 18 motorised pivot windows, and of course, five main doors and three overhead doors. Probably the most exciting feature about Epic Waters is that it has the advantages of two parks in one. The retractable roof panels offer all the sunlight and fresh air of an outdoor park, plus the year-round reliability of an indoor park.

How does the retractable roof work? The retractable panels on the main roof and in the cupola have separate controls and can be operated= independently. The motorised roof panels take 12 minutes to open fully. There are also 18 motorised centre-pivot windows that open easily. Both sets of panels are controlled by the operator and can be opened or closed at the touch of a button. The opened structure creates a chimney effect, allowing the air to come in through the side windows and push upwards and out through the roof. This natural process circulates air and vents moisture.

How long did it take to build?
OpenAire worked on concept, design, engineering, fabrication and installation. A team of 15 installers worked to build the enclosure and cupola. Construction started in December 2016 and the entire structure was completed by November of 2017. Epic Waters required 35 shipments of materials on 53-foot flatbed trucks; 280 tons of aluminium; 54 columns, 27 rafters and 77,300 square feet of polycarbonate; and 34,000 square feet of glass.


 



An exterior view shows the slide path exiting and re-entering the building and the cupola at the top
FAST FACTS

OpenAire

Cost: $88m
Size: 7,400sqm (80,000sq ft)
Rides: 11 waterslides, outdoor wave pool, lazy river
Amenities: retail store, arcade, F&B outlets, bar, cabanas
Operator: American Resort Management
Expected attendance: 500,000
Adult ticket: $14 (resident), $24 (non-resident)

 




Eric Sinclair Project manager WhiteWater West

 

Eric Sinclair
 

What was the design process?
The design process was in two stages. In the pre-contract stage, everybody gets together and tries to decide what the vision of the park is. The city took a big role on that and did a lot of background research by visiting a lot of waterparks. They liked a lot of elements from Jay Peak Pump House so we started from there. Architect HKS was steering the project and pulling all the elements together. We bring to the table almost 40 years in the waterpark business and we’ve built a lot of waterparks. That enables us to take a somewhat unique place at the design table in terms of people wanting to know what we’ve seen and done in other parks, what ride mix we recommend and so on.

What’s special about the experience?
The roof of Epic Waters waterpark boasts a glass cupola with our slide tower inside it. As you ascend the tower, you see all these people flying around you in different directions and when you get to top, about 60 feet high, and you’re standing on the tower, it’s probably one of the best views in the Dallas area. You can see right across the city. There’s a lot more going on than just getting the nerve to ride the AquaLoop.

What ride mix did you install?
We specially designed a couple of rides for the park. The client wanted something new that no other park had yet so we custom created some slides. Alongside the regular flumes, there’s the first indoor inner tube Boomerango plus Constrictor fusion – which they called Yellow Jacket Drop – the US’s tallest AquaLoop, called Lassoloop, and a AquaSphere slide called Aquanaut. Epic’s Aquanaut is also the first indoor inner tube AquaSphere. Riders take high-speed twists and turns down an enclosed serpentine flume before zooming into giant spheres where their tubes make huge oscillations on 90-degree corners. The park also has our FlowRider Double surf simulator and the longest lazy river in Texas.

Did you provide any waterplay features for younger children?
We provided an AquaPlay 1050, which is a sizeable unit. Usually, indoor parks aren’t large enough to accommodate this massive multi-level play structure, but there’s nothing ‘usual’ about Epic. It looks great in the space and provides an interactive focal point where families can play.

What was the main challenge you faced?
The tolerances were probably the most challenging. It was crucial all the parties – HKS, Ramaker, OpenAire, Lee Lewis and us – worked closely at the beginning to make sure the drawings were spot on. When you’re inside the waterpark, for example, one of the AquaSpheres sits between the roof structure, and that roof moves, so it was vital the AquaSphere was rightly placed where it wouldn’t interfere with any of the roof beams. Even though the park is 80,000 square feet, we filled the space up pretty tight. There are six building penetrations where three slides start inside and go outside and come back in. The wall is glass so you have to make sure the penetrations are made and resealed correctly. You can’t even be off by a few inches or you’ll run into the framing of the glass. If you look at our 3D CAD model, it’s pretty insane how we fit all this in and made sure every detail is accounted for. By and large, that planning paid off when it came to the installation phase and luckily places where we were worried about it being close tolerance turned out fine.


"If you look at our 3D CAD model, it’s pretty insane how we fit all this in and made sure every detail is accounted for"

 



WhiteWater’s mat racer slides are always popular with guests
Project Parties

WhiteWater West

Owner/client: The City of Grand Prairie
Architects: HKS
Water Consultant: Ramaker & Associates
Rides and attractions: WhiteWater West
Retractable Roof: OpenAire
Construction Company: Lee Lewis Construction
Management: American Resort Management
Feasibility Consultant: Hotel & Leisure Advisors

 


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