Tim's Turn | A Winning Experience at Gaylord Opryland
My record for winning things is really bad.
The first thing I ever won was a clock at a church auction. It didn’t work when I took it home.
The second big win for me came in the early 1990s in San Antonio during an IAAPA Summer Meeting when I won a trivia game by identifying The Bobby Fuller Four as the artists who sang “I Fought the Law.”
My prize was a brand-new 45 rpm copy of Toni Basil’s 1982 hit “Mickey.” Then I hit a dry streak for many years until I won tickets for an Eagles concert in October 2017. I don’t have to tell you that was a pretty good score!
But we’re gathered here today to share the joy of my latest, and I may say greatest, win of them all: an overnight stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, with a two-day pass to SoundWaves, its 4-acre indoor/outdoor water park. Or as a poster in the elevator noted, “SoundWaves is not a water park. It is an all-ages adventure.”
Opryland uses a different admissions model for SoundWaves than most water park resorts. At Opryland, guests need to purchase a separate package, in addition to their room rate, for access. Opryland urges guests to buy a package in advance when they reserve their room and not wait until check-in. They do not promise that a same-day package will be available. However, the “regular” resort pool and spa are still free to all guests.
I have been to many indoor water parks as a reporter and was on the opening team at Ripley Entertainment when we opened the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. That said, and understanding how these parks operate, I knew I would be critical, but I also had great expectations, knowing the owner is a first-class operator.
Nashville, as you probably know, is a country music mecca. The Opryland complex has country music playing just about everywhere you walk in the hotel. The live entertainment at the various restaurants and bars within the hotel also features country music. So, you can imagine my surprise when I walked into this beautiful water oasis and immediately heard “Love to Love You Baby,” a 1975 hit by the Disco Queen, Donna Summer.
I quickly found out the water park is not country music themed, but just music themed in general. The creative team must have had a ball naming the rides, which include “Rapid Remix,” a four- to five-passenger raft slide; “Stage Dive” body slides; “Record Launch,” a two-person tube slide; “Crowd Surfer,” a double FlowRider; “Half Note Cove” kids play area; “Tidal Track Wave Pool”; and two rivers, the “Up Tempo Rapids River” and the “Down Tempo Lazy River.”
Decibels is the name of the family eatery, and the third-floor adults-only pool and bar overlooking the rest of the park is known as Status Cymbal.
My wife, Kathleen, joined me on this adventure, and we made quite a weekend of our “staycation,” enjoying most of the amenities the place has to offer. We had a great time, and it felt good to be a winner again.
Today I bought $20 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets, and I chalked up another victory. I won $5. Looks like I’m on a roll.
- Tim O’Brien is a veteran outdoor entertainment journalist and is a longtime Funworld contributor. He has authored many books chronicling the industry’s attractions and personalities and is the only journalist in the IAAPA Hall of Fame.