Whether you’re new to the amusement park industry or you plan to expand your current park, water parks are a great way to appeal to people of all ages and increase profitability and consumer satisfaction. Learn everything you need to know about starting a water park with our comprehensive guide below.
Are Water Parks Profitable?
Opening a water park is no easy task. You have to be prepared to invest time and money into the project. As a business owner, when you take on a project this big, you want to ensure you’ll see a profit in return.
Luckily, water parks are a profitable business move. Over the last few years, industry revenue has continued to grow. With rising disposable incomes and increased public interest in visiting amusement parks, the water park industry continues to grow in profitability.
When employment rates and disposable incomes are high, people are more likely to travel and indulge in entertainment. Water parks are great additions to popular travel destinations as families or travelers seek out fun daytime activities to enjoy on vacation. Water parks in smaller or lesser-known areas can also be valuable as they can establish themselves as a must-see attraction in the area. Local families or groups looking for a day of fun can find it right in their hometown.
Water parks that offer activities and attractions for all ages can further increase their profitability. By having something for everyone, your target audience demographics expand, and more people are intrigued to visit your water park.
Water parks can make revenue in a few ways, including:
- Admission fees
- Season pass fees
- Food and beverage sales
- Souvenirs and other merchandise
- Add on facilities, attractions or packages
Why Add a Water Park to Your Theme Park?
Water parks can bring a variety of benefits and immense value to your amusement park. With more to do at your amusement park, guests are likely to stay longer to explore everything you have to offer. Plus, with a variety of attractions, rides and activities, your theme park can appeal to a variety of people of all ages.
Other benefits of adding a water park include:
- Appealing on summer days: There’s nothing like cooling off in a pool on a hot summer day. With the addition of a water park, guests can enjoy lounging by the water all day or splashing around in the wave pool. Water parks can also help your amusement park attendance on hot days, as guests know they can take a break from the rollercoasters to cool off.
- Encourages repeat guests: Adding a water park expands your amusement park’s attractions and activities. Some guests may not be able to do everything in one trip, so they’ll have to come back again to experience everything. With so much to do, your amusement park will make a great place for guests to come back and explore with others.
- Sets your amusement park apart: An amusement park with both a water park and traditional roller coasters and rides will stand out from other standard amusement parks. If your amusement park is located in an area with a lot of attractions, a water park can make your location look more appealing than other options.
- Cost-effectiveness: Building and maintaining a water park can be much less expensive than expanding your theme park. Water parks can also require less space, which lets you make the most of your land, even if your space is limited.
How to Start a Water Park From Scratch
Need some tips for starting a water park? We’ve got you covered. Before you can get to the fun part of picking out your park amenities and theme, there are a few things you need to take care of first.
Since you are starting a business, you’ll need to form a legal business entity to officially register your business with the local and federal government. There are four main types of business entities, including sole proprietorship, corporate organization, limited liability company and partnership. The type of entity that is best for you varies depending on your unique business needs and goals.
You’ll also need to consider how you will finance your business. Will you use your own savings, obtain a loan or seek help from outside investors? Again, the right choice for you will depend on a variety of personal factors. However, understanding how you plan to finance your water park will help you create a budget to work with.
Before you can start bringing your water park to life, you’ll need to obtain all of the proper licenses and permits for your business. The type and amount of licenses and permits required will vary depending on the specific aspects of your water park and the park’s location. Reach out to your local business licensing office or chamber of commerce for a list of specific licenses needed.
5 Tips for Designing a Water Park
When designing a water park, you’ll want to spend your time finding the perfect amenities and attractions to draw people in. However, there is more to consider than just the fun rides. Also, keep in mind your park’s overall theme, the age groups that will visit and necessary rest areas, to name a few. Keep the following tips in mind when designing your new water park:
1. Choose a Theme
Choosing a water park theme early on in the design process can help you create a cohesive look and feel for your park. If you are adding a water park to an existing amusement park, consider continuing the amusement park’s theme into the water park. If you would like to differentiate the two, come up with a new, unique design to give guests a unique experience in each park.
2. Mimic Natural Surroundings
Indoor water parks are a great way for people to enjoy the fun of summer, even throughout the winter months. Include natural elements and designs to mimic the feeling of being outdoors.
Outdoor water parks can benefit from mimicking natural elements as well. Designing the ground to look like beach sand or including fake palm trees can help your theme park feel like a tropical oasis.
3. Start With a Star Element
A star element is your park’s main attraction. When designing your park, start by establishing this star element so you can build the rest of the park design around it. This lets you ensure there will be enough space for this big attraction. You can then look at your remaining park space to see what other attractions would work well and fit in the remaining areas.
4. Consider Age Groups
Unless you’re developing an adult-only water park, you can expect families with kids of all ages to visit. You’ll want to have a variety of attractions that appeal to kids of all ages and abilities. A kid’s area with splash pads and spray zones is great for younger kids who can not handle the bigger attractions. You’ll also want to include some thrilling rides for adventurous teenagers and adults.
5. Plan for Shade
Even with the water to help cool guests, on extra hot days, guests will look for shaded areas. Shaded areas are especially important for families with small kids who need extra protection from the sun. If you have natural shade from surrounding trees, try to plan food stations and seating in this area. Provide umbrellas at the tables so guests can comfortably enjoy their food. For added shade, use fake palm trees around the park to create a cool place to rest in the sun.
Water Park Equipment From Soft Play®
Having proper, quality equipment is essential in creating a successful water park. When shopping for quality equipment, look for the following characteristics:
- Strength and durability: Your equipment needs to be able to handle high traffic. Strong and durable equipment also means fewer repairs and replacements, which will help save you money.
- Safety: Visitor safety is a number one priority for any business owner. Choose equipment designed with materials known to minimize injuries.
- Professional Installation: Only shop from qualified and experienced manufacturers to ensure proper installation.
At Soft Play, we’ve helped install a variety of water parks across the United States and internationally. Whether you’re looking for a big, custom-designed water park or a small water play area, our team of experts can help. Check out some of our most popular products below that are perfect additions to any water park.
1. Splash Pads
Consider a zero-depth splash pad for a kid-friendly water play area. Splash pads have little to no standing water, so younger kids can have fun. Because of this safety aspect, splash pads are ideal for visitors of all ages and ability levels. Our splash pads are inclusive, allowing everyone to be an active participant in the aquatic fun.
Splash pads are a popular alternative to pools, providing aquatic play opportunities for a broader range of kids and adults and helping water parks accommodate visitors of varying ability levels. Splash pads are also beneficial because they provide sensory-rich play experiences. Kids are encouraged to explore and experience water, colors and shapes in a new way without needing to be fully submerged, allowing them to build their senses through exciting play.
Splash pads can be as simple or complex as you like. From the padded flooring to the sprayers, we can help you create a custom splash pad system that will attract families to your park. Whether you want the splash pad to follow a theme or use an eclectic collection of colorful fountains and sprayers, we’ll work together to create a fun and engaging play area to fit your vision.
2. Water Slides
With Soft Play, you can get water slides that stand alone or connect to your pool. If you want the slide to function with access to the waterline, we offer custom-designed water slides that can perfectly integrate with your pool. This customization allows us to work with your existing pool or play area to create a safe sliding experience. We also equip all our slides with anti-slip steps and transitions to further create a safe sliding area.
Additionally, you have the option to completely customize your slide’s design to match your branding or choose from our 12 pre-constructed themes. To add to the fun, you can add sprayers to any of our water slides.
Regardless of your budget, Soft Play can customize floatables to meet your budget and space needs. Our floatables are unique floating shapes, animals or objects you can climb and play on in the water. You can choose from a variety of themes to find the perfect look for your water park or design your own floatables to match your branding.
Floatables are anchored in the concrete of your pool’s floor to keep them tethered, though they’ll move in the water around that anchor as people use them. Regardless of how much space you have available, we’ll create a custom fit to bring mystical floatables to your destination.
Our floatables help you create a fun, exciting aquatic playground. With unique features like these, you’ll attract more families who want to stay at your facility longer and stay ahead of your competition with innovative designs.
4. Climbers and Sprayers
Climbers like frogs, whales and dragons are fun interactive elements for kids. Our climbers are available in a variety of themes, but custom-made options are available too. Climbers are one of our most versatile water park options. They’re designed to sit in up to 6 inches of water so you can use them in splash pads or low-grade pool areas. If you’re looking for additional water fun, try adding sprayers to your climbers.
Our climbers are well-loved products that see a lot of use, and we design them to be long-lasting and durable, just as we do with all our products. We coat each element in your climbers and sprayers with UV-resistant, abrasion-resistant and chlorine-stable materials. These coatings help protect them from the chemicals that keep the water in your park safe for swimming, which will otherwise erode your equipment over time.
Whether you choose from our pre-designed themes or work with our design team to create custom climbers for a truly unique water park experience, we’ll work with you to tailor designs for multiple age groups. Climbers and sprayers can be fun and exciting for all your visitors when you work with us at Soft Play.
5. Water Walk Systems
You can think of our water walk systems as an addition to our floatables. Our floating, tethered platforms can be manufactured to work for kids of all ages, depending on your needs. Our water walk systems allow kids to walk across the platforms on the water with the help of a net spanning the length of the platforms, extending the floatable fun. Kids can hold on to the overhead netting and scale the platforms while feeling like they’re walking on water.
You can add the netting to a series of floatables, design a custom water walk system or find a pre-engineered package you love. We offer nets in various colors and lengths to match your desired theme and style, and we can tailor our water walk systems to suit different sizes and configurations. Pairing a water walk system with our other products, like climbers and splash pads, creates a complete, unforgettable water park experience.
Design Your Water Park With Soft Play
When you design a commercial water park with Soft Play, you’ll get more than customized play products. As our client, you’ll benefit from enhanced branding opportunities, increased customer loyalty, durable equipment, high-quality materials, help from industry professionals and so much more. We’re dedicated to building inclusive play areas so kids and their family members can participate in active play, regardless of age or ability level.
If you’re considering starting a water park, we can help you do it the right way. Get a free design consult and quote from Soft Play today.