Guest Article

Guest Article

As the industry

focuses on bigger, more amenity-rich properties, it will be interesting to see how smaller properties and markets are able to adapt.

Indoor waterparks: We project the opening of 762,000 square feet of new indoor waterpark space and nearly 1,800 new rooms in 2020. It will be a year of significant growth in this market segment. Two large indoor waterpark resorts will open in California and Texas along with smaller hotel additions to waterparks in Kansas and South Dakota. The largest standalone indoor waterpark in North America, DreamWorks Waterpark at American Dream Mall, finally opened in New Jersey after numerous delays (before closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The 975-room Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas, will be the brand’s fourth resort and will open in November 2020 with a 223,000-square- foot indoor waterpark. There are also five municipalities adding standalone indoor waterparks as parts of recreation centers.

Outdoor waterparks: Growth in the outdoor segment will continue with seven new standalone waterparks and one resort with an outdoor waterpark anticipated. Larger outdoor waterpark developments include Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks’ $90 million Soaky Mountain Waterpark in Sevierville, Tennessee, and Splash City Adventure Park in St. George, Utah.

Challenges for 2020

The biggest and most prevalent challenge for the waterpark industry in 2020 is weathering the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as government restrictions lift and allow for openings, all waterparks will need to adopt additional safety measures, crowd controls, and cleaning procedures to make guests feel comfortable. In addition, properties will need to recover from complete closure or severely delayed openings that will make 2020 a challenging year not only to thrive, but to stay alive. Impact will further be


determined by the extent of the spread of the virus and how governments in various states and provinces handle re-opening. Locations with faster re-openings may see signs of recovery quickly, whereas those with stricter and longer restrictions in place will continue to face challenges in operating at all. Attendance will decline at properties that are able to open compared to previous years due to a concern of overcrowding by facilities and potential customers.

Conclusion Waterpark development continues in select markets in the United States and Canada with development costs for both indoor and outdoor waterparks increasing due to higher construction and labor costs. The new DreamWorks indoor waterpark at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas, will raise the bar for new waterpark developments as they become two of the largest indoor facilities in the world. Both projects received significant incentives from their respective municipalities and state governments, which boosted their financial viability. As the industry focuses on bigger, more amenity-

rich properties, it will be interesting to see how smaller properties and markets are able to adapt. Today’s savvy customers will have an unprecedented number of choices, making it vital for all properties, no matter their size, to adopt proactive strategies on marketing and facility improvements. The COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread uncertainty in the industry, and its effect will be felt throughout 2020 and perhaps beyond, as waterparks across all segments close, delay opening, or have truncated operating systems. As always, H&LA continues to stay abreast of all the new additions, changes, and trends happening in this dynamic industry.

JUNE 2020

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