Sizzling summer afternoons in the Midwest, dry desert evenings in the South, hot coastal mornings in the East . . . all across North America, indoor and outdoor water parks are a trusted tradition for beating the heat, staying active, and enjoying quality recreational family fun.
Water parks are a rapidly growing element of the U.S. tourism industry. Water parks were introduced in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and since then, the United States has grown to have the most concentrated water park market in the world. As consumer interest in older municipal swimming pools wanes, there is more demand for creative and high-energy water parks that have interactive water activities for every age range. Today’s water parks incorporate slides, splash pads, playgrounds, lazy rivers, wave pools, swimming areas, artificial surfing simulations, and many more features to draw people in and increase revenues.
Of course, as with any growing industry, issues do arise. Many people lament water usage in these facilities, but while the consumption of water is unavoidable for water parks, there are factors that play a critical role in how much water facilities use and discharge into local sanitary systems.
Precipitation, humidity, temperature . . . obviously, one of the factors impacting water usage is climate. While many outdoor water parks in the southern and western parts of the country remain open year round, water park facilities in colder climates only operate seasonally. These seasonal water parks require annual winterization, where water is completely drained and discarded or drained and stored in underground vessels for the off-season. The winterization process requires seasonal water parks to receive more fillings than year-round water parks. The greater variability of outdoor water parks, whether winterized or not, create more water loss than in the more-controlled indoor water park environments.
Physical attributes also play an important role in water usage. Every water park has its own specific size, design, and combination of attractions that impact its water consumption. Modern water parks do tend to have improved features for reclaiming water and reducing overall consumption compared to older water parks, however. For example, innovative designers can use sloping to drain water back to pools and facilities in new water parks. Designers can also focus their attention on the types of rides that make a difference, with splash rides that spray water in all directions using more water than more-contained rides like lazy rivers.
The climate, environment, physical attributes and issues like evaporation, wash-down procedures, and daily water loss directly correlate to a water park’s consumption ratio. By taking the amount of water consumed and dividing it by the overall daily water use, a water park can determine its water consumption and use that information to move forward with improved conservation efforts.
From air-conditioning and refrigeration to water-moving systems and transportation, water parks run primarily on electricity. Energy management is critical, as is minimizing costs and environmental concerns, so many water parks are implementing energy management programs that rely on solar power plants and battery storage to fuel their operations. Environmentally-friendly solar production uses solar panels to produce energy that is then sent into local electrical grids and used to fuel water park properties. Solar installations can help water parks manage their energy peaks, improve reliable energy supplies, and protect the bottom line.
The use of solar power for amusement parks and water park facilities is not new. Disney began implementing solar projects into their operations in the 1980s. Recently, Disney constructed a 270-acre solar facility outside its Animal Kingdom Theme Park near Orlando to increase solar production by ten-fold. The 518,000 solar panels that make up the system are used to power Disney facilities in an environmentally-friendly, conservation-enhancing way.
Disney is not alone in its attempts to conserve power. The Wet’n’Wild water park in Hawaii created a battery storage system in 2016. Supported by the Hawaiian Electric Company and the U.S. Department of Energy, the project helps Wet’n’Wild decrease its energy usage spikes, which tend to peak during high-volume times. Peak use determines pay rate, so the battery storage helps manage the electricity grid by having more precise usage and control. The distributed grid services partnership between Hawaiian Electric and Wet’n’Wild also helps customers better manage their energy use, save money, and improve grid efficiency and reliability.
Traditionally, water park designers built their facilities around hilly geographies. They would build waterslides on hills or erect towers that guests would climb to gain access to the slide – in both scenarios, designers had to rely solely on momentum to move riders from top to bottom. The path down was pretty straightforward, but today, technology is allowing designers to create waterslides that follow all sorts of paths. Riders can move up and down, they can oscillate, they can spin in a funnel, they can ride a water roller coaster through various inclines . . . the options are virtually endless.
Besides incorporating innovative paths, water park designers are also merging water park attractions. Instead of keeping rides separate, designers are bringing different elements together to enhance the user experience. So when you’re floating down the lazy river and suddenly experience rapids or you’re moving from one slide to the next without standing in line, thank the modern technology that makes it possible.
Designers are also incorporating rides into the water park experience. Today’s most successful water parks have rides that are similar to those seen in traditional amusement parks, where conveyor belts and water jets swiftly and reliably move rafts through these water roller coasters. Bowl rides are also elaborate water park rides that draw visitors. In these bowl rides, riders slide down chutes or tubes into the top of a funnel, swish around, and then drop down into a splash pad or pool. Family raft rides are also extremely popular in water parks. These rides began there ascent in the 1990s, and the trend has expanded. Families are the primary targets for water parks, so rides that appeal to them and allow them to experience the fun together draw people in the door.
The fastest-growing segment of the water park industry, indoor water park facilities, are extremely popular. Indoor water parks eliminate outdoor elements and allow resorts and hotels to draw in families and guests year round for additional income and occupancy.
The first indoor water park was built in Canada in 1985. The success of that park caught the attention of the Wisconsin Dells, which is deemed the “Water Park Capital of the World.” The Dell’s Polynesian Resort Hotel debuted the first indoor water park in the United States in 1994, and since then, they have popped up everywhere.
Indoor water parks are so popular because they immediately extend the tourist season in colder climates and make water park resorts vacation destinations for families and groups. They have become a money-making game-changer for the water park industry and the hotels, resorts, and communities that rely on them for tourism.
As a water park stakeholder, you know that your expenses drive your bottom line. Water is very likely a major expense in your facility, and a focus on improved operations that save water can definitely save you money.
One area to pay attention to is your water park pumps. Your pumps work hard every day to circulate chlorinated water through to lazy rivers, water slides, and other water features. The pumps, the electrical motors that power them, the large water tanks . . . these and other facility features must be protected if you want to keep your water systems working efficiently. NEMACO™ 4X electrical enclosures produced in corrosion-resistant galvanized carbon steel, stainless steel, fiberglass, and plastic are excellent systems to reduce corrosion, decrease costs, and improve the curb appeal and effectiveness of your water park.
Another focus should be on protecting your monitoring system controls. These controls allow you to conveniently collect and analyze data, detect water consumption anomalies, and take corrective actions. Remote monitoring through mobile technologies even allows this to happen off-site. This type of innovative technology improves your water park operations and maintains safety, reliability, and profitability.
Sound and music systems in cabinets, security systems in enclosures, computer servers in rack enclosures, lighting fixtures on pole mounts, waterproof lighting in metal and plastic
enclosures . . . throughout your water park complex, there are numerous elements that must be protected. So turn to the dependable NEMACO™ enclosures, cabinets, and products that can safeguard your investment. Our high-quality electrical enclosures and cabinets can help you:
The high humidity, varying temperatures, chlorine and other concentrated chemicals, and wear-and-tear from water park guests can corrode and deteriorate electrical components in your facility. Durable NEMACO™ electrical enclosures can protect your electrical systems from these elements and extend the useful life of your electronic equipment, saving you from expensive rewiring and replacement costs down the road.
Protect Your Facility
. The corrosive property of water park chemicals can damage your pumps, motors, tanks, and other elements. Protecting your electrical systems, equipment, and components with quality NEMACO™ enclosure solutions can keep water out and help prevent facility shut-downs that reduce productivity and profitability.
Improve Your Productivity.
Constantly having to repair faulty electrical equipment isn’t just dangerous, it also cuts into the time you could be spending on other work. Keeping your electrical systems, controllers, and other electronics protected keeps them working properly so you can focus your valuable time on sustaining an outstanding entertainment experience for your guests.
The water park industry has changed dramatically over the years, with state-of-the-art technologies and innovative designs creating facilities that are sustainable, entertaining, and attractive to guests from all around the world. Let our professional and dedicated team do our part to help keep your water park operating efficiently now and into the future.