With summer in full swing, attractions that help beat the heat are in high demand. According to researchers at Statista, a record-breaking number of visitors flocked to water parks in 2018 and 2019 is projected to be even “hotter”. But what keeps a steady flow of guests coming?

The most popular parks offer something for everyone – families, adults, tweens and teens, mild and wild – all in the same place. Framing the visitor experience from the moment they enter a park, to their late-night Instagram-worthy posts, good design encourages interactivity across all customer touchpoints and directs guests where they need to go. Part of a creative toolkit, EDSA designers use story telling techniques to connect people to a cohesive experience in dynamic ways with sound, lighting and other subtle elements bringing guest immersion to independent and resort-based water parks alike.

Developing multiple levels of engagement means thinking broadly about the arc of visitors’ emotions and what people need, want and expect during their visits. EDSA begins each assignment by evaluating a series of offerings in conjunction with guest profiles and preferences. Analytic studies further refine what a guest can do in one hour and over the course of a day giving credence to a ride menu and complimentary supporting areas that are planned across the site. Balancing ‘showcase’ rides with splash zones, wave pools, aqua obstacle courses and other active and passive activities ensures something age appropriate for everyone. Additionally, having a comprehensive area development plan from the onset elevates performance of must-see parks and can mean the difference between a return visit, good word-of mouth and a not-so positive trip advisor review.

One of the great advantages of water park rides is that they can serve a number of guests relatively quickly. The latest generation is taking high capacity further with bowls, funnels and serpentine slides that merge in various sections. Also serving more riders simultaneously are family slides and speed-splash water coasters that offer a unique brand position. The key is to create a seamless crowd flow by offering multiple traffic routes and ride sequences to ensure ‘jams’ don’t happen. In addition to traditional pathways, successful water parks use tube elevators, conveyor belts and lazy rivers – not only as an attraction, but a means to move people through the park.

Like any themed attraction, the rides or in this case slides, are only part of the overall guest experience. Strategically placed diversions such as a surf-rider pool, characters and entertainers that attract both spectators and participants, create opportunities to ‘feed’ guests towards second-tier attractions as well as to concessions, shops and other revenue-producing spots. Also recommended is upgrading standard experiences with VIP cabanas, members only quite pools and associated pool-side butler service for a premium.

Understanding the needs for variable programmed spaces is a design consideration often overlooked. Knowing what areas can double as teaching spaces, training areas and recreational swim buy-outs/rentals is an acquired skill. For example, lazy rivers can be used for resistance or assistive walking classes during certain times and as a recreational river on other days. Wave pools are popular after-hours, rent-outs for surf enthusiasts. Warm-water wellness pools provide a place for therapy and rehabilitation, but also present appropriate depth and temperature for learn-to-swim lessons.

Planning for and beyond summer fun is what ultimately contributes to the long-term financial stability of a water park. In turn, that success provides necessary funds to add, improve or replace attractions to stay current with guests’ desires and make the next big splash in a competitive market. For more information contact us at [email protected].



Making a Splash!

Tidal Cove

Adding to an exciting amenity package at the JW Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, Tidal Cove brings the latest and greatest in waterpark design. The resort-based attraction features the first-ever FlowRider® Triple, seven slides ranging from a 558-foot drop to 286 feet, a meandering lazy river, multiple pool environments and the Kids Cove. High-intensity, immersive aquatic features are balanced by unique opportunities for more sophisticated and privatized relaxation with the incorporation of cabanas along the winding river and a secluded VIP adult pool. EDSA provided full design services for the renovation and expansion including associated F&B, retail and area programing that relies on hardscape, landscape and site furnishing to create zones of varied energy for resort guests and day visitors.



Stake Bank Island

As consumer demand for cruising outpaces supply, investment in land-based private islands that extend the onboard experience are also on the rise. These exclusive destinations often draw upon the culture and history of a place as is the case with Stake Bank Island, a new destination island underway near Belize City. EDSA is responsible for blue sky visioning, story development, programming and detailed design of the upland which includes highly themed pools, beach related amenities, a watersports zone with iconic water slide and beach club as well as tranquil seaside cabanas and over-water bungalows. With the official groundbreaking earlier this year, completion is targeted for 2021.





EDSA’s long-term relationship with the Atlantis brand resulted in design collaborations for Aquaventure Waterparks in Paradise Island, Dubai and Sanya. Integrating themed entertainment and water amenities, EDSA addressed revenue generation, technology and a narrative of a place that uses architecture, landscape and both extreme adventure and family-friendly elements to enhance the guest’s experience. Creating a WOW factor gave rise to the transportainment concept and extensive river network that moves guests in and around the entire waterpark. The nature-based designs address guest comfort and climatic needs while influencing how imaginatively absorbed a person feels in the space. Given the scale and complexity of the design, EDSA collaborated with a team of consultants including architects, marine scientists, engineers, manufacturers, interior designers, audio and visual experts, art directors and an entire construction team that helped bring the waterparks to life.