History of Waterparks

History of Waterparks

Waterparks are an immensely popular form of recreation throughout the world. Modern water parks include a vast array of available rides that differ from park to park. Popular attractions within water parks include water slides, splash pools, wave pools, and much more. Although the United States has the highest concentration of water parks, many thousands can be found elsewhere as well. Water parks are seen as standalone parks, combined with theme parks, or simplified with smaller attractions to fit their location. The history of water parks is extensive and begins in the early 1900’s and has since grown into a massive industry.

The First Waterslide

The first water slide was seen in New Zealand as a display in their 1906 International Exhibition. Among the many available rides that were first debuted as entertainment there was the newly built water chute. In this ride in particular, overdressed occupants were put into boats specifically made for the water chute and slid down into Victoria Lake. It was reported that for a few moments riders would actually skip across the surface of the water.

After the park in New Zealand shut down, the idea was carried on by Herbert Sellner in Minnesota. In 1923, he designed a similar ride with “water toboggans.” These would slide down a large incline and skim across bodies of water. According to U.S. Patent Services, distances of these toboggans would exceed 100 feet.

As theme parks were on the rise in the in the 50’s and 60’s, an entrepreneur named George Millay opened the first Sea World in the United States in 1964 in San Diego. Intrigued by the initial designs of water slides, Millay went on to form the first official water park located in Orlando, Florida in the year 1977. Because of its popularity, more were opened throughout the United States, Mexico and Brazil.

Waterslides quickly evolved over the next several years. They were built to accommodate more and more people as the trend continued, and to continue the excitement they were developed to be taller and faster. Water parks were quick to incorporate other attractions as well. Very quickly, zero depth entry pools and splash pools became popular with families with small children. Wave pools and rough water rides became popular with thrill seekers, and lazy rivers became favored among those who just wanted to relax.

Indoor Waterparks Throughout the World

In order for some cities and tourist destinations to become year-round attractions for visitors, indoor water parks quickly became popular. The first indoor water park in the world was built in Alpamare, Switzerland. France followed soon after with their first water park opening in 1984, and the Netherlands built two indoor water parks within the next ten years. The United States didn’t have their first indoor water park until 1994. This park was built as an extension of the Great Wolf Lodge of the Polynesian Hotel in the Wisconsin Dells.

Today, water parks can be found almost everywhere. They tend to provide fun for the whole family and many serve as a resort destination.