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Q&A Shane Huish Cowabunga Q Lines

Originally scheduled to debut in 2013,

Cowabunga Bay finally opened its gates in Las Vegas last summer after a series of construction delays. In an exclsive interview ahead of the park’s reopening next month, Park World speaks to partner and general manager Shane Huish. His family also runs three family entertainment centres, two in suburban Seattle and one near Portland, Oregon, as well as the original Cowabunga Bay Water Park in Draper, Utah, where Shane serves as general manager.

What encouraged you to open a waterpark in Las Vegas, and why the location in Henderson? With the success of our Cowabunga Bay Utah park we were eager to expand the brand into another market. Of course weather was a major factor for us in determining the perfect location. We had targeted three markets that we were really excited about. When we weighed out the options, Henderson kept coming out as the logical location. Sometimes the bureaucracy of some city agencies can be a nightmare, but the City of Hederson was also very proactive in pursuing our project. Working with the City was a great experience!

For a while there were no waterparks in Las Vegas. Is there now room for two (Wet ‘n’ Wild and yourselves)? Las Vegas is a big city, and that doesn’t even take into account the 29 million visitors annually. It sure would be nice if we were the only waterpark in town but the I believe this market is big enough to sustain both parks. Cowabunga Bay is located on the east side of town while the other park is on the completely opposite side of town.

Are you beginning to see a greater emphasis on family entertainment in Las Vegas?

BELOW: Shane Huish at the original Cowabunga Bay in Utah

It seems the major developments in Las Vegas are always focused on the tourist which leaves the locals without a lot to do unless they travel to the Strip.

Sure, there are tons of options on the Strip, but most locals prefer to avoid the traffic, congestion and chaos of the Strip. Our park makes it easy for the locals to visit. We built the park for the local market and if we get a few tourists that drop in every now and then … well that’s just icing on the cake.

You encountered several challenges in constructing the park. What were they and how did you overcome them? Every big construction project has its fair share of challenges and yes, we certainly had our share. They seemed difficult at the time but we believed in the project and we found ways to overcome them. Thankfully we had a great project development team and a wonderful general contractor. Our biggest challenge was time, and as hard as everyone worked there still wasn’t enough of it. We opened the park on July 4th, a couple of weeks past our targeted opening date. Some were upset due to the small delay but once they were able to come in and see the beautiful park we created it seemed all was forgotten and our guests enjoyed the rest of the season. We are looking forward to our first full season beginning this March.

Did you have to make any changes/compromises to the park’s design/masterplan as a result? The original partners that brought us to the project had a design for the park that simply did not work for our operation methods. The park went through a complete redesign by our group which emphasised better traffic flows, guest experience, labour

24 FEBRUARY 2015

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