- Published on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 12:57
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As the world watches with uncertainty, the economy continues to make small steps towards recovery.
This slow progress has made the industry’s normal challenges even more daunting.
After all, even during good times, the visitor attractions industry is continually working to find creative solutions to challenges such as improving revenue during the off season, increasing repeat visits from local residents or getting families to stay longer and spend more money.
Experts say inventive thinking is just as important now because recovery is often the reward of reinvestment during a recession. “The down times are a perfect time to start planning and implementing reinvestment and to look at ways of improving your product and the customer experience,” explains Themed Entertainment Association president Steve Thorburn.
According to a report from the Hotel & Leisure Advisor, a hospitality consulting firm, “owners and operators of indoor waterpark resorts have discovered that in order to attract new families to their facilities and keep repeat customers coming back for more, they need to continually work to add new components and keep the concept fresh. Many revenue-generating facilities, such as hotels, resorts or other tourist attractions, are meeting customer’s high expectations by adding family and toddler specific waterplay areas.”
To attract visitors and extend stays in their facilities, some proactive leaders in the entertainment-tourism industry are building aquatic play pads that feature water toys like spray cannons, dumping buckets and ground sprays. The result is helping turn regional attractions challenged by low off-season attendance into all-day, all-year family destinations. In some cases, the result of adding a spray park has seen the ROI within ten weeks.
Aquatic play pads exude fun. Traditionally concrete pads with larger than life stainless steel features that spray water, these aquatic play parks are perfect for family settings and promote peer interaction and cognitive development. Unlike wading pools, aquatic play pads are a safe option in that there is minimal water accumulation so the risk of drowning is virtually eliminated. However, before the decision to build an aquatic play pad is made, it is imperative to make sure the necessary steps are taken to ensure its success. From building materials to design themes, there is a lot to think about.
Consider the facility’s location when evaluating the material options and decide whether the park will be in a supervised or unsupervised location. Is it in a public park located in an area highly susceptible to vandalism? Is it indoors or outdoors? Are features going into a pool?
Choosing stainless steel features will ensure the equipment can handle vandalism and the harsh outdoor elements. It can also mean the difference between a successful aquatic play pad and a maintenance headache.
Some additional points to consider when designing the park include the use of an overspray zone and multiple drainage points. An overspray zone will provide the necessary buffer between the wet play area and surrounding landscaping. It will also result in less water loss and keep unnecessary debris off of the pad. Multiple drainage points ensure that water does not accumulate greater than 50mm, reducing the risk of drowning.
The surface of the aquatic play pad should be nonporous to prevent the build up of bacteria and non-slip, to prevent injury. Broom finished concrete is the most economical option, however new advances in surfacing options have led to the emergence of more bright colors and unique designs. The surfacing grade should be 2-5%, allowing children in wheelchairs to safely experience the spray area.
Birrong Aquatic Centre recently underwent a massive renovation, including a new aquatic play pad, dry playground and 50m pool. Since opening in December, the centre has been voted third in the Best of Summer list in the Daily Telegraph.
If there is one thing for certain, facilities all over the world are adding aquatic play features to their list of client offerings with great success.