Alpine Springs adds new thrills to Water World
AT: Tim Baldwin
FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. — In the Denver suburbs, Water World, part of the Hyland Hills Parks and Recreation District, took a significant leap for the 2021 season. For more than 40 years, the park has seen incredible growth and innovative — not to mention award-winning — attractions.
Water World is a 70+-acre park. It has 52 attractions. The park markets itself as the “World’s Largest Water Park” taking into consideration that only includes park and rides and not parking lot and other non-guest areas.
Unfortunately, the park had to stay closed for the entire season of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic took a terrible toll.
“We are a community park, so we are basically nonprofit. The money we do bring in is used for athletics and recreation programs that benefit the entire community,” said Joann Cortez, communications director, Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District. “We never turn away any kid from playing a particular sport because they don’t have the money.”
Welcoming guests back in 2021, the park has enjoyed a phenomenally successful season. As summer progressed, visitors noticed two new additions taking shape, not to mention a total makeover of one area of the park. A soft opening of two new attractions took place, but the entire Alpine Springs area didn’t see completion until late July. State pride finds its place in the new section as Alpine Springs is dedicated to the theme of Colorado.
“We were hoping to debut the attractions on opening day, but with COVID and construction delays, we felt the same pain everybody else is feeling,” Cortez told Amusement Today.
Prior to the new land, the area was feeling its age.
“That area was end-of-life. We made the decision to reimagine the area with the Colorado theme,” said Bob Owens, director. “Those two attractions replaced what was there.”
“ProSlide and Hyland Hills Water World have a long history together, dating back over 23 years,” said Andy Maurek, ProSlide’s vice-president, business development-U.S.A. “When they were looking for two new iconic attractions to anchor their Alpine Springs area redevelopment, they reached out to ProSlide to help. ProSlide custom-designed Roaring Forks and Centennial Basin to match the Colorado theme of Alpine Springs. Our creative team matched the hills of the RocketBLAST Water Coaster to mimic the state’s snow-capped mountains and themed the CannonBOWL to mimic the iconic Colorado flag. The new area has been a huge success for America’s largest water park.”
Both attractions share a same tower. Roaring Forks challenges guests to race each other as two side-by-side troughs align and diverge, going up and down multiple hills and through two pairs of saucers. On several occasions, riders in double tubes can see their friends and families racing alongside. Centennial Basin is also a double-tube ride that sends visitors swirling into the same splashpool.
One of the signature attributes of the park is a sky ride that transports visitors from the front entrance of the park down into the lower hilly areas. The lower loading station is located right in the heart of the two new additions.
“Because of the aerial tram in the middle, it made it a unique project,” said Owens. “We couldn’t remove the tower, so we had to work around it. It was a bit challenging to get it in there. We worked with an engineering group out of Boulder, DTJ Design. They worked on the Volcano Bay project; that was kind of their step into water parks. We wanted to reimagine the area and soften it up. It used to be a lot of concrete. No one really hung out there.”
“It was perfectly aligned with what we wanted to do,” said Cortez. “Our whole goal was to bring guests into the lower end of the park.”
Centennial Basin is the park’s second bowl ride. In 2005, The Revolution was one of only two BehemothBOWL rides in the country. Locals will appreciate the state seal as the emblem illustrated in fiberglass in the whirlpool attraction.
“We had never closed the park in all our 42 years of existence,” said Cortez. “We had so much support from the Colorado community. We had this new area and were looking for a new way to theme it. We thought, ‘Why not make it a tribute … a hat tip … to Colorado.’ That’s what we’ve done. We are the Centennial State. Every piece of this area is a dedication to Colorado and the lovely people that have supported us.”
“For us, it seemed like a theme that would really resonate,” said Owens. “It allowed us to have some fun and give a shout out as who we are as a state.”
Demolition started in the fall of 2019. The park was moving in on contracting the attractions when the global crisis hit. The park continued to move forward and made use of the downtime, not knowing if the property would be able to open at all in 2020.
“We took that time to move ahead on construction in a way we wouldn’t have been able to if the park had been open,” Owens told AT.
The Lodge is a new eatery for the area. A landscaped area with plentiful seating makes for a spacious, relaxing dining atmosphere.
“The daiquiris are to die for,” joked Cortez.
The area is large enough that the availability to use it for special events was taken into consideration. Non-rides like corn hole became part of the area for tamer diversions.
Prior to Alpine Springs, the area sported a circus theme. Children’s attractions and a lazy river that were retained in the area makeover now take on the alpine feel of the new land.
Also of note in 2021, the park added a low-sensory room in the center of the park for families with autistic members or those with cognitive challenges. Those families have access to the room, which is stocked with art supplies, tangible playthings, weighted blankets and cushioned resting areas. Blocking out the noise and the stimulation can be a needed temporary respite.
A Water World Autism Guide states: “It is our goal to provide every family with an enjoyable and memorable visit, and we are proud to offer specialized services to guests with autism and other special needs.” Team members have received applicable training, along with a variety of other areas.
Management is pleased to have a partial season with Alpine Springs but looks forward to a full season with the new area in 2022.
“The whole area was part of a grand vision, but we are very pleased with what ProSlide has done,” noted Cortez.
The park is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, with a Doggie Bow Wow Beach Day for one bonus weekend.