Prior to the start of an operating season, it is customary for water parks to add a new attraction, engage in an upgrade, or update their food and beverage program. In 2023, several water parks across the Americas have embarked on momentous transformations to enhance the entire guest experience at their facilities. Funworld highlights several notable upgrades.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The owner of Water Country, Palace Entertainment, chose 2023 as the season to plunge into a major makeover as the park turns 40 years old.
”We’re extremely proud of this accomplishment and felt that now is the time to give the park a refresh in celebration of its birthday!” exclaims Lynsey Winters, Palace’s communications director.
With its northern location, Water Country opened on June 3, where the first guests to arrive discovered they were in for a treat. “We focused on areas that would have a high impact on guests’ overall view of the park, specifically as they arrived,” says Winters. “We’ve replaced our entrance sign, updated all parking booths, and transformed our main gate area. We’ve repainted the buildings in this zone, refreshed the pavement, and upgraded the turnstiles section. We’ve also added a few murals from the parking lot to the main gate.”
Inside the park, guests will encounter new wayfinding signage and renovated bathrooms. Plus, four popular attractions—Dragon’s Den, Plunge, Racing Rapids, and Hyperlight—received fresh paint using eye-catching colors.
Water Country also upgraded ride experiences that the park now collectively calls Hyperlight. The reimagined water slides (formerly known as Black Hole and Warp 8) now sport technology from iSlide in the Netherlands. Riders encounter an immersive journey through vivid lights and pulsating sounds. Inside the recharged Black Hole slide, fiber optic lighting creates a galaxy-like feel. Both slides also feature a new interior gel coating and new exterior paint.
To create excitement and drive revenue leading up to opening day, Water Country offered single-day tickets at 40% off to celebrate 40 seasons of the park. Season pass holders were awarded exclusive ride time the day before the park’s official season opening.
Parque Acuático Xocomil
One of Guatemala’s largest water parks is experiencing a grow spurt. Parque Acuático Xocomil’s operator, the Instituto de Recreación de Los Trabajadores de la Empresa Privada de Guatemala (IRTRA), decided that the park’s growing popularity and the end of COVID-19 restrictions made this season a great time to embark on a major park expansion.
The 178,135-square-meter water park—featuring two wave pools, four swimming pools, and 14 water slides—is set to grow by another 82,630 square meters over the next two years.
The expansion includes 13 new attractions provided by three industry suppliers: ProSlide, WhiteWater, and Aquatic Development Group (ADG). The new attractions include ProSlide’s Mammoth Blast and Dueling Pipeline Blast; WhiteWater’s AdrenaLim Blaster; and ADG’s Tydal Wave River.
WhiteWater will premier its AdrenaLim Blaster at Xocomil. Based on WhiteWaters’ Master Blaster, the new water coaster uses linear induction motors to propel inflatable boats holding four riders up a half-dozen hills with an enormous drop waiting at the end. Riders are given the option of wearing bathing suits or their street clothes since the ride was engineered to keep riders relatively dry. WhiteWater says AdrenaLim Blaster will be one of Latin America’s first water coasters.
Maria Andrea Cruz, marketing and public relations manager for IRTRA, says the tropical climate, along with the park’s popularity, made 2023 the year to begin an expansion. “It’s the favorite park in the [region]; the area where Xocomil is located is hot, so people love games with water; and we have made expansions in all our parks. We believe that it is important for parks to be constantly innovating.”
Cruz says the expansion of the park will take one and a half to two years to complete.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians opened Owa Parks & Resort in 2017 to take advantage of the 6.7 million annual visitors to the Gulf Coast region of Alabama. Capitalizing on the meaning of Owa in its Muscogee Creek language—which translates to “big water”—the tribe opened an indoor water park covering 100,000 square feet in the summer of 2022 and named it Tropic Falls.
This year, Tropic Falls added outdoor attractions, a restaurant, and other new features as part of a $70 million-plus expansion. New attractions include a 30,000-square-foot outdoor wave pool named Big Water Bay, located just a short distance from the indoor water park. Sitting next to the new wave pool is Coastal Curl, Owa’s first surf simulator.
These two big attractions are just the start. Above the wave pool is a 48-foot-wide LED screen in full view of swimmers, where the park will show the latest water-themed movies and host seasonally inspired live performances on the stage below the screen.
There is also an open-air dining and beverage venue named Breakers Bar & Grill that is inspired by the tropical theming of the water park. An expansive beach area with plentiful seating, private cabana rentals, and restrooms with lockers rounds out the expansion.
Kristen Hellmich, director of external communications for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, wrote in a statement that Tropic Falls has gained a reputation as a unique attraction on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
“Tropic Falls is currently the only indoor water park in the United States with both a retractable roof and sidewall adjoining an outdoor water park,” writes Hellmich. She believes the mix of attractions will allow Owa to be “a standout destination for family fun” in the region.
European Water Park Upgrades for 2023
Among other water parks pursuing intriguing additions this year are Aqualibi in Wavre, Belgium, and North Yorkshire Water Park in Wykeham, Scarborough, England.
Aqualibi will undergo extensive renovations throughout 2023, costing a reported 30 million euros and expanding the water park by 1,000 square meters. Included in the renovation will be a new 25-meter-high slide tower featuring four slides from ProSlide.
Giving swimmers a rest period from the water, North Yorkshire Water Park has added two new Puzzle Rooms to allow families and thrill seekers the chance to compete head-to-head to see who can complete various challenges in the quickest time. The Puzzle Rooms, which accommodate up to 10 players each, have 30 identical tasks designed to test perception, general knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork. A resolution must be reached within 45 minutes to successfully complete the challenge.