Episode 3: Global Water Park Changes, Challenges, and Trends
Guest: Rick Hunter, Chairman and CEO - Proslide Technology

Dennis Speigel, Founder & CEO of ITPS and Rick Hunter, Chairman & CEO of ProSlide Technology discuss the continued growth of the waterpark industry, and the shakeouts that have resulted from Covid-19 impacts. Rick provides insights on both domestic and foreign growth trends and opines on trends and technological advances he is seeing as our industry regains its footing. Watch this dynamic and highly informative discussion.

About Rick Hunter
A former member of Canada’s National Ski Team, and current Chairman and CEO of ProSlide Technology Inc., Rick Hunter is a born innovator whose entrepreneurial spirit has been transforming the water park and amusement industry for almost 40 years. Starting ProSlide Technology Inc. in 1986, Hunter brought a unique eye and unmatched inspiration to his water ride innovation and design. His skillful background affords him the intimate understanding of speed, turns, and downward flow combined to bring that signature water ride experience only found in ProSlide designs. With more, Best New Water Ride Awards than all other water slide manufacturers combined, Hunter has built ProSlide into a globally recognized water ride design and engineering company, attracting top talent and best-in-class clients from around the world.

Additional Questions after the Podcast

Thanks to Rick Hunter for joining us on Episode 3 of the ITPS “I’m4Fun” Podcast on October 7th. During the Podcast, many of you who were with us live submitted questions. We were not able to get to all of them, but want to provide these questions (and answers) below. Enjoy and do not hesitate to reach out to itps@interthemepark.com if you have further questions!

QUESTION:  In the midst of this pandemic, how does ProSlide build customer relations and communicate with them for building long-term relationships? What have you found works best?

RICK HUNTER: At ProSlide, there’s no doubt that building great customer relationships is a number one priority for us. It’s a mission that ProSlide has and the bottom line is that we’ve been in business for 34 years because everything we do is for our customers. We’ve always said that our customer’s success is our success.

To build those relationships, communication is paramount. Although it’s difficult to travel, we’ve always maintained consistent and frequent communication with our customers through Zoom, phone calls, emails, etc. The pandemic hinders our ability to see our clients in person, but the communication has never stopped. Our drive to work with our clients and stay close to them when they need us will always be a top priority for ProSlide.

QUESTION: From a capex standpoint, water attractions have a much lower cost for a quality ride than, say, a roller coaster. Do you see this as a way for parks to install a new attraction at a reasonable price point, even though they are cutting their capex spend?

RICK HUNTER: One hundred percent! You are totally correct. Water rides for water parks and cross-over water ride attractions for theme parks are relatively low cost compared to roller coasters. The high entertainment value of the water coasters has been demonstrated over and over again at Holiday World where we have just completed a third Water Coaster “Cheetah Chase” in July, 2020. They have 3 world-class woody coasters and a steel winged roller coaster and the Water Coasters have similarly very high demand and throughput as the roller coasters… proof positive of their high entertainment value and strong capacity #’s– producing quick ROI’s!! Water parks overall do deliver phenomenal entertainment value. In many cases, you can build an entire phase of a water park for the cost of an expensive rollercoaster.

In Water Park Water Coasters, you can get an amazing product with incredible throughput for between $5-8 million USD, whereas a comparable rollercoaster can easily run you upwards of $20 million USD or more. There are also a lot of large multi-person water ride attractions like the TORNADO or TornadoWAVE that are incredibly entertaining water rides with high capacities and low capex.

QUESTION:  Thank you for speaking about the importance of innovation. As the waterpark industry has been forging ahead for over 30 years due to innovation, the million dollar question is……what do you see for future innovation trends?

RICK HUNTER: Water Rides have come a long way over 4 decades. We’ve come from single-person body slides to multi-person family rafts rides like the MAMMOTH. We’ve also brought strong features like TORNADO, TornadoWAVE and BehemothBOWL into our family rides because multi-person attractions have remained popular since their introduction, with no signs of slowing down.

Water Coaster technology, like HydroMAGNETIC LIM and BLAST nozzle water propulsion, has also been game-changing innovations for the industry. This advanced technology now powers two-person dueling Water Coasters, 3-4 person inline Rocket Water Coasters, and 6-8 person family rafts like the HydroMAGNETIC MAMMOTH Water Coaster. Water Coasters are a trend that’s here to stay and we’re continuing to drive forward aggressively on the innovation front… super exciting water ride transformation happening as we speak! 😊 

QUESTION:  Dennis, as an expert on what is happening around the world, do you think there is more potential for waterpark development worldwide than there is for theme park development? What are you seeing globally as far as all leisure development and how might past trends be changing now in terms of growth given the impact of the pandemic?

DENNIS SPEIGEL: The waterpark industry continues to grow globally due to its popularity and the cost of investment. To enter the world of a greenfield world-class theme park, it costs $500 - $700 million USD. A substantial world-class waterpark can be built for $50 to $100 million USD, and they require less land. Therefore, I believe the waterparks will expand much faster than the greenfield theme parks.

QUESTION:  How do you see the future of the waterpark industry in Brazil and South America?

RICK HUNTER: Everywhere in the world we see people enjoying water parks and Brazil and South America are a particular highlight. We’re busy in Latin America and we see how much the market loves water parks and water rides… so it’s a market we pay particular attention to.

The cost of ownership of water rides in South America is fairly cost effective and there’s lots of options for keeping costs in check like buying fiberglass outside of the country, buying the steel domestically. This is part of the reason that water parks are so successful in those areas and we’re really enthusiastic about what we see in that area.

QUESTION:  How has Covid-19 impacted the supply side for obtaining the materials necessary for production? Have costs been impacted?

RICK HUNTER: We’re incredibly lucky that our materials have been readily available on the supply side. There’s been small delays but, for the most part, our supply of materials continues to be very robust. We’re also lucky that costs have not been negatively impacted. All manufacturers are always striving to maintain the best cost base they can while always maintaining the highest quality materials for their water rides! That’s our focus!

QUESTION:  With Covid-19, many people are uncomfortable to dine inside, but outdoor dining has been fairly successful. With winter approaching in many areas of the world, and applying this mentality to the industry, how are indoor waterparks, like Great Wolf Resorts, adapting to ease guest concerns about being inside?

RICK HUNTER: The good news about indoor water parks are that they are still very large spaces. Social distancing and other protocols are very manageable and doable. Indoor water parks like Great Wolf, Kalahari, Wilderness, American Dream +++ are very experienced operators and will maintain safe environments with all recommended protocols carried out. The good news about water parks and the water environment is that viruses cannot live in chlorinated facilities which is very positive.

QUESTION:  Would it make sense for the WWA and IAAPA to join forces and become a single organization? Do you think this would ever happen?

DENNIS SPEIGEL: This is a difficult question because it takes two to tango. I personally believe IAAPA would absorb the WWA, but I am not sure how they feel about losing their association and identity. We know that manufacturers would like to see less shows costing less money to exhibit, travel, and lodging. Shows are expensive and time is even more precious due to the number of shows that keep growing. I’m not sure this will happen, but who knows?!

Feasibility Analysis - Design / Masterplanning - Pre-Opening Operations Planning - Management

International Theme Park Services, Inc.
International Theme Park Services, Inc.

Contact ITPS

International Theme Park Services, Inc. 
2195 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
United States of America
Phone: 513-381-6131