©EDSA | Insights | Aerial Water Slides


©EDSA | Insights | Water Slides

Since the early days in the 1940s and 50s, water parks have grown in popularity. Now, there are world-class water parks all over the world, from North America and Latin America to Europe and Asia. Researchers at Statista, suggest a record-breaking number of visitors continue to flock to water parks for vacation, 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 that bring a deeper sense of guest immersion to independent and resort-based water parks alike.

©EDSA | Insights | Pool

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.

©EDSA | Insights | Children Playing in Water

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.

©EDSA | Insights | Water Slides

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.