Creative motifs and clever theming give waterparks and splash play areas new depth
By Stacy St. Clair
Think that zero-depth entry and giant water slide put your pool on the cusp of cool? Think again.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAMS ARCHITECTS|
|The Joliet, Ill., Park District's Splash Station waterpark features four 30-foot-tall body flume water slides.|
The best and most entertaining parks today are more than just a collection of fun water features. In a move stolen from the private sector, many public facilities have been transformed into well-planned fantasylands with a central theme carried throughout. Whether it is a fantastical motif such as cartoon characters or a historical homage to the community, themed waterparks and splash play areas give facilities an extra zing in an often competitive market.
"We're seeing more of an interest," says Michael Williams, CEO of Wheaton, Ill.-based Williams Architects. "It adds stimulation. It adds something a little different than the neighboring towns have."
In the Chicago area, Williams' core market, the competition is fierce. The vast majority of cities and villages have full-fledged waterparks complete with huge slides, splash play areas and the always popular zero-depth entry.
Adding to the tight market are several private facilities that attract patrons from across the metropolitan area. And roughly two hours to the northwest is the Wisconsin Dells, which boasts more themed waterparks per capita than any other Midwest town.