Feature - FEC in Paradise - February 2019

FIVE ISLANDS WATER AND AMUSEMENT PARK

Trinidad’s Five Islands Water and Amusement Park

by James Careless

In the Caribbean island paradise of Trinidad (off Venezuela’s east coast), residents and tourists look for new and different ways to have fun. The need to be entertained led a group of local investors to spend more than US$75 million to open the Five Islands Water and Amusement Park in August 2017. 

Placed along Chagville Beach on Trinidad’s northwestern tip, Five Islands features indoor and outdoor family entertainment center (FEC) attractions in a regionally themed seaside setting. In addition to providing family fun to a warm and sunny nation, the FEC is providing employment options regionally, which is a top priority for the Trinidad and Tobago government.

“Entertainment and leisure options were very limited on the island for many years,” says Louanna Borde, director of sales and marketing at Five Islands Amusement Park. “The country was ready for new, innovative entertainment concepts. As well, the owners of Five Islands are all Trinidadian, and they strongly believe in investing in their own country.”

FIVE ISLANDS WATER AND AMUSEMENT PARK

Inside Five Islands’ arcade area, visitors can enjoy video games, a Trampoline Jump Zone, ropes course, Toddler Play Zone, and the Tonka Bean Café. (Credit: Five Islands Water and Amusement Park)

A Growing FEC in the Tropics

Five Islands is actually two facilities in one: the first facility is the 25-acre indoor/outdoor FEC; the second is the 20-acre water park next door under construction and slated to open this year.

To enter Five Islands, guests go inside the FEC’s main building. Admission is 200 Trinidad and Tobago (TT) dollars for guests 48 inches and taller, TT$120 for guests 36 to 47 inches, free for guests under 36 inches, and TT$200 for spectators (non-riders), who receive a credit of TT$100 on their admission band for games, food, and beverages.

Once they’ve paid their admission, guests have access to more than 65 video games, the Pelican Fly Trampoline Jump Zone, the Howler Trail Rope Course, and the Kiddie Toddler Play Zone. The indoor FEC also has a bar—after all, this is the Caribbean, home to legendary rum cocktails. The Tonka Bean Café and Guana Bites food concessions join three rooms set aside for birthday parties and other gatherings. All of this takes place in an open space with high ceilings that is both colorful and tastefully decorated.

Once guests walk outside the Five Islands building, they encounter even more FEC attractions. These include “Caiman Cart Grand Prix” go-karts, “Dragon Fly Air Racer” rotating arm thrill ride, and the Ocean Glide roller skating rink. Other outdoor fun includes the “Shark Attack Surf Rider” simulator and Rainbow Land Toddler Play Park (playground, bouncy castles, obstacle course, and jumping pillow). Games like “Plinko,” ring toss, and basketball and football challenges round out the fun. 

Making of the Island

The Five Islands FEC can thank the world’s oil and gas market for its creation.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the Trinidad and Tobago region relies on its energy sector for much of its economic activity.

When oil and gas prices were high, the island nation flourished. “Economic growth between 2000 and 2007 averaged slightly over 8 percent per year, significantly above the regional average of about 3.7 percent for that same period,” reports the World Factbook, adding gross domestic product (GDP) has slowed down since then, contracting between 2009 and 2012, making small gains in 2013 and contracting again from 2014 to 2017.

Today, the Trinidad and Tobago region is in a recession, dogged both by low oil and gas revenues and (ironically) local fuel shortages, and that is why the government is encouraging growth in other industries.

“They developed a plan to transform Chaguaramas (the northwest corner of the island where Five Islands is located) into an eco-friendly entertainment haven for locals and foreigners to enjoy,” says Borde. This included seeking bids to build a water park next to Chagville Beach. “Our business group, Fouraime Enterprises Limited, submitted a proposal for the water park and was successful in winning the bid, and there the journey began.”

FIVE ISLANDS WATER AND AMUSEMENT PARK

The birthday party rooms at Five Islands are divided into colorful, themed cottages. (Credit: Five Islands Water and Amusement Park)

A Ready Market

Based on their local business knowledge, Five Islands’ investors knew the market was ripe for an indoor/outdoor FEC and water park in this part of the Caribbean. Five Islands was designed to appeal to families of all ages and ethnicities, and people from all geographic locations throughout Trinidad and Tobago. 

“In Trinidad and Tobago, community life is huge, and the population consists of large extended families, often with three or four generations living in close proximity to each other,” Borde says. 

Meanwhile, “the project will employ more than 300 people when fully opened, and it will be an impetus to stimulate the economy by providing opportunities for individuals and businesses of all sizes,” she says. With more money in their pockets, more local residents will be able to afford having fun at Five Islands, boosting its revenues and driving economic value for the region, a potential benefit to all.

Building a World-Class FEC

The high quality of Five Islands’ attractions, buildings, and landscaping is no accident. The leadership of Fouraime Enterprises knew that nothing less than the best would appeal to potential customers in the region and attract them to visit.

“The owners of the company recognized the opportunity to bring a world-class entertainment center offering thrillseekers an interactive and exhilarating adventure that would have never been experienced before on the island,” says Borde. Their task was to identify which attractions and amenities would satisfy these expectations, before spending millions of dollars on the project.

To make this happen, the owners’ group visited a variety of water and amusement parks all around the United States. “They also attended the industry trade shows and met with the experts in the attractions industry to put together an experienced team of professionals to create this first-of-its-kind project in the Caribbean,” she says.

Five Islands’ research included excursions to IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. 

“The owners’ group met with hundreds of industry vendors,” says Borde. “The page was blank, the choices limitless—and they wanted it all.” And even though “staying within the budget was critical, the owners were [focused] on delivering only the best quality attractions used in the best parks in the U.S. and around the world,” she recalls.

The FEC’s architecture—a locally inspired decorative theme with landscaping to match—had to be top-notch to meet customer expectations. To make this happen, the Five Islands complex (both the FEC and water park now under construction) was designed and overseen by U.S.-based Innovative Attraction Management (IAM) with help from Aquatic Design Consultants (United States), Varchi Design (Trinidad), MacFarlane’s Designs Concepts (Trinidad), Eye Scream Animation (Trinidad), and Knaggs Developers Limited (Trinidad).

“IAM was instrumental in giving advice and directing the Five Islands owners on the best attractions to be featured at the FEC based on the lifestyle of our people and what might excite the population to attend this new type of entertainment facility,” Borde says.

FIVE ISLANDS WATER AND AMUSEMENT PARK

Five Islands’ water park is set to feature a double-ended wave pool, five large water slide/obstacle rides, a lazy river water attraction, a splash zone, and outdoor dining. (Credit: Five Islands Water and Amusement Park)

Ready to Make a Splash

When it opens this year, Five Islands’ water park will feature a double-ended wave pool, five large water slide/obstacle rides, and “one of the longest lazy river water attractions in the world,” says Borde. There will also be a splash zone for toddlers and kids zone with water rides and obstacles. Add a range of food concessionaires and bars with “delicious eats and treats,” private cabanas, and even private VIP balcony cabanas with private pools, and Five Islands’ water park will be a destination in its own right.

A planned phase two will include a waterfront commercial complex with 30,000 square feet for retail, dining, and entertainment businesses. These will serve guests at Five Islands, plus the larger Chaguaramas community and tourists. Fouraime Enterprises has big ambitions for Five Islands and its status among the world’s FECs and water parks.

“When completed, this family entertainment center and water park will be the first of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago and the Southern Caribbean,” says Borde. “With its impressive spread of the most innovative amusement and water park attractions and infrastructure and its professional operation, it is poised to attract international acclaim.”

www.fiveislandswaterpark.com


James Careless is a Canada-based writer who covers the water park industry for Funworld.