New DFW water attractions aim to make a splash
Competition is heated in blazing-hot North Texas
Water wars are taking shape in greater Northeast Tarrant County.
The city-owned NRH
And not too far away, in Grapevine, construction continues on a water park that is expected to open this summer for resort guests at the Gaylord Texan.
The battle for water park patrons is on.
Roanoke City Manager Jimmy Stathatos said that despite the number of local water parks, Roanoke should have no problem drawing big crowds, considering its location on the Denton-Tarrant county border. The city has already established itself as a dining destination.
"Hawaiian Falls will have one of the largest water features in North America in terms of the amount of people it will hold -- more than 2,000 at one time," he said. "I think everyone's lucky there are so many choices."
The main reason water parks are popular is simple.
"Mainly because it's hot," said Aleatha Ezra, spokeswoman for the World Waterpark Association.
That's especially true in North Texas, where we eclipsed 100 degrees 21 times last summer.
Ezra said attendance at North America's roughly 1,000 water parks is in the neighborhood of 80 million.
This year, it's a doozy. The Viper is a family-oriented thrill ride, Hee said.
"It takes four riders instead of two, and you're all facing one another so you can see the excitement on their faces while you're riding," she said.
Hee said the Viper is a 430-foot slide that's 43.2 feet high and ends with a 20-foot-wide "mega tube" where the rafts slosh back and forth before they slip out across a pool. It should be finished before the park opens next month, Hee said.
The Viper will be the first one in North America, said Lesley Baker, senior marketing manager with WhiteWater West Industries. Other Vipers are being built in China and Dubai.
The slide will be the first major addition to the park since 2009, when Beachside Bay opened with a white-sand beach, sand volleyball court and pool. The balance of $2.1 million borrowed last year for NRH
"So far we're doing good," Hee said. "Hopefully we won't have inclement weather to delay construction."
Hawaiian Falls, which already has water parks in Mansfield, Garland and The Colony, will operate the Roanoke-owned park under a 40-year lease.
Officials expect the park to generate $200,000 in sales tax revenue in its first year, said Debra Wallace, assistant city manager and chief financial officer.
Hawaiian Falls spokesman David Alvey said the park will include "the biggest and the best, the world's largest water playground."
Mega WaterWorld will be six stories tall and have a dozen slides coming off it, Alvey said.
"We designed it for families to be able to play together on it," he said.
The lowest level is designed for toddlers, Alvey said.
"This ground-floor level also has water wheels and interactive features," he said. "The first level has small slides for preschoolers to slide down with their siblings or parents. As you venture higher up into the play structure, the slides and features are meant to appeal to older kids and their parents."
The park will also have a 16,000-square-foot wave pool and lazy river, Alvey said. But he expects people to line up for two "dumping buckets" that send 500 to 1,000 gallons at a time cascading onto them.
Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine was built as an indoor water park resort and features nine huge slides, six pools, a water fort and a lazy river that are ensconced in the 80,000-square-foot Bear Track Landing. Resort guests are protected from the weather year-round in an environment that's kept at 84 degrees, and the water is heated as well. Summer guests may also enjoy the 84,000-square-foot Raccoon Lagoon outdoor water park.
Just down the street is the Gaylord Texan, which plans to opens its water park for clients this summer, spokeswoman Stacey Rendelman said. Attractions include a 10-acre pool with a 600-foot lazy river and a water tower that spills from 200 feet in the air. Resort guests also enjoy a 6,000-square-foot lagoon, a 27-foot-tall winding water slide, a two-person zip line, three horseshoe hot pools and sun decks with seating for 1,200.
Arlington's Hurricane Harbor is still the granddaddy of water parks and has dozens of slides and other features that attract so many people on hot days that -- from cars zipping by on Interstate 20 -- the towers and pools look like stirred-up fire ant mounds.
But its challengers are gaining on it.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620