26 May 2022 Attractions Management Handbook

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Attractions Management Handbook - Crest of a Wave

Innovative waterparks

Crest of a Wave

Visionary design and innovative technology – Helen Patenall dips into the global waterparks that have got the drift

Helen Patenall, Leisure Media

Morgan’s Inspiration Island

Morgan’s Inspiration Island – the world’s first ultra-accessible waterpark – is the latest addition to the highly successful Morgan’s Wonderland theme park launched in Texas back in 2010. In similar fashion, it’s non-profit and admits anyone with a special need free of charge.

Inspired by the cognitive and physical challenges facing his wife’s daughter, Morgan, CEO Gordon Hartman wants to encourage people with special needs to do things previously thought impossible. Not only that, Gordon also wants to bridge the gap and enhance mutual understanding between visitors with a disability and those without a disability through the inclusive medium of play.

Overlooking the theme park’s eight-acre (three-hectare) catch-and-release fishing lake, the new US$17m (€15.2m, £13.4m) tropically themed waterpark features a 680-foot (63-metre) River Boat Adventure ride twisting through a jungle setting brought alive by bird and animal sounds.

Five waterplay zones – Hang 10 Harbor, Rainbow Reef, Shipwreck Island, Castaway Bay and Calypso Cove – offer splash time fun elements such as raintrees, falls, geysers, jets, water cannons and tipping buckets.

Other facilities include the Rusty Anchor Galley Grub and Little Italy Bistro food outlets; the Surf Shack Gifts and Gear sundries shop; a panoramic viewing deck; an air-conditioned party/meeting room; and private cabanas for rent.

Talking about masterplanners Luna Architecture & Design and designers Taylor Ochoa, Hartman explains that “In many ways, creating Morgan’s Inspiration Island feels a lot like it did when our team designed and built Morgan’s Wonderland – it’s never been done before”.

As with Morgan’s Wonderland, consultations with a team of doctors and special needs therapists, plus the creation of three waterproof motorised wheelchairs, means that all elements of the waterpark are wheelchair-accessible and suitable for guests of all ages and abilities. Spacious private areas enable guests to transfer from their own wheelchair into one of the park’s waterproof wheelchairs with greater ease.

Other special features include the capability of conditioning water to a warmer temperature at Rainbow Reef so guests with muscular issues who are more sensitive to the cold can have fun.

There are also two tipping bucket zones: one is gently alarmed (so as not to frighten visitors with autism) and features a whirling sign (for the benefit of those with hearing difficulties) so guests not keen on being splashed are given time to leave the area at tipping time.

Small wheels on many waterplay features even control the amount of water released to suit the needs of visitors with fragile physical or sensory issues. Parents can also keep track of all their children via Location Station thanks to the new RFID waterproof wristbands.

“Inspiration Island concentrates on inclusion and inspires guests with special needs to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities,” says Hartman. “Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments and even guests on ventilators, can play alongside and gain a greater appreciation of one another.”


Inspiration Island enhances mutual understanding between all visitors

Waterproof motorised wheelchairs make the waterpark accessible and suitable for all guests

Water temperatures can be warmed up to suit guests sensitive to the cold
Water World at Ocean Park

New kid on the block Water World at Ocean Park promises to be the first waterfront waterpark in Southeast Asia when it opens in 2019.

The HK$2.9bn (US$370m, €330m), 90-hectare (222-acre) site at Tai Shue Wan bay on the southern side of Hong Kong Island will span indoor and outdoor zones across three levels; each decorated according to sporting themes associated with the Reef, Caves and Beach.

Commenting on its integrated hillside design, Walter Kerr, executive director of project development, explains: “We were highly focused on limiting the impact on the natural environment when developing the overall design of Water World. We kept the development sufficiently away from the water (sea) to avoid the need to modify the existing sea wall, thereby minimising the impact on marine habitats.

“The operation of Water World is also designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. An ETFE translucent skylight system will maximise the amount of daylight reaching the interior, thus saving energy required for artificial lighting.”

Twenty-seven rides of differing intensities will include Hong Kong’s first-ever surf rider; outdoor and indoor wave pools; an outdoor crazy river where guests can enjoy a three-minute journey with interactive water features and ocean views; an indoor lazy river featuring a seven-minute leisurely tube journey; nine waterslides; and an infinity pool.

Families will also enjoy the toddler pool and themed play structure with its five waterslides and several water features, as well as the Ocean Theatre dolphinarium, resort-style cabana areas and performance stage.

Walter Kerr adds: “After a gap of 20 years, Ocean Park Hong Kong is bringing back its Water World. This new, all-year, indoor-outdoor waterpark is going to be a whole new world of fun, excitement and discovery. It’s designed in particularly close harmony with nature.
“And our heritage has not been forgotten – among the numerous modern, new high-action, high adrenaline slides, surf rider, lazy and crazy rivers, and wave pools, we’re also bringing back the longterm favourite ride of the young people of Hong Kong – the multi-coloured, multi-lane mat racer slide they called the Rainbow Slide. But this time, it’ll be longer, with more lanes and a series of inter-looping tubes.

“New thrills, new fun, new surprises for all. Water World will be the place to be and have fun – all year round!”

Water World will be able to host 7,000 guests simultaneously, and visitors will also have the option of checking in at the new Ocean Park Marriot Hotel or Fullerton Hotel @ Ocean Park. This venue will not only extend the visit duration but also provide a venue for Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) event organisers from around the world.

Water World is expected to create 2,900 local jobs and contribute around HK$842m (US$107m, €93.7m, £83.3m) to the GDP by 2018.


Water World will offer outdoor and indoor wave pools and a surf rider

The Ocean Theatre dolphinarium will be a family crowd pleaser
Volcano Bay

Anchored by its 200-foot high (61-metre) colossal Krakatau, “next-gen” Volcano Bay exploded onto the waterpark scene in May 2017 to much anticipation, promising to take theming to the next level.

Designed by Universal Creative, the Pacific Island-inspired waterpark at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida offers 18 attractions spread across 28 acres (11 hectares) and is split into four highly themed immersive zones.

Inside the star attraction, Krakatau, guests can board specially designed canoes to ride the Krakatau Aqua Coaster uphill as well as downhill, thanks to its leading water ride technology, before hurtling down the park’s three waterslides. Ko’okiri Body Plunge plummets 125-feet through the centre of the volcano before tunneling through a swimming pool filled with guests, while Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine offers a 124-feet dual free fall, and there’s the enclosed mats ride at Punga Racers.

At the base of the towering volcano, Wave Village features a multi-directional wave pool, complete with a sandy beach and cabanas, as well as a calmer pool zone with views of the riders speeding through the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.

At the family-friendly River Village, guests can meander along the river underneath the volcano to its hidden Stargazer Cavern and relax underneath special twinkling light and water effects, before playtime at Tot Tiki Reef with its “Maori” fountains and mini volcano, rounded up by Runamukka Reef aquaplay.

Rainforest Village offers even more thrills and spills: Maku, a three-saucer ride; Puihi, a multi-passenger raft ride with a zero-gravity drop; Ohyah and Ohno, a duo of drop slides launching guests into the air as it spits them out; and Taniwha, four Easter Island-inspired tube slides.

Visitors also don TapuTapu wearable technology to hold a place in ride lines, make purchases and access lockers.

Dale Mason, vice president at Universal Creative, told Attractions Management Handbook: “This is the culmination of years of dreaming, planning and building alongside an incredible team. It’s amazing to see it finally come fully to life and I can’t wait for you to experience it.”


Duo drop slides Ohyah and Ohno launch guests into the air at Rainforest Village
Wanda Xishuangbanna

Inspired by the natural beauty and rich flora of the tropical Yunnan province in China – home to the largest rainforest in the northern hemisphere – lead designer Forrec masterplanned the waterpark at Wanda Xishuangbanna International Resort to resemble an oversized botanical garden.

Giant flowers mark waterslide entry points formed from enormous bamboo tubes, while huge floating leaves provide passages down a wild river. Gigantic jungle vines, oversized mushrooms and intertwining roots and branches form intriguing waterplay structures.
“We worked hand-in-hand with our developer client, Wanda Group, to embrace the colours, culture and natural wonders of Xishuangbanna,“ says Gordon Dorrett, president and CEO of Forrec.

“This project was a pleasure, not only because it reflects our specialised skills in creating memorable entertainment experiences, but because it’s designed to give back and contribute to the local community.”
The waterpark is a separate gated attraction from the adjacent Wanda Xishuangbanna International Resort.


Forrec masterplanned the waterpark to resemble an oversized botanical garden


Originally published in Attractions Handbook 2017 edition

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