Zierer supplies new family fun to Calaway Park: Riptide Racer
AT: Tim Baldwin
CALGARY, Alberta, Canada — Since opening in 1982, Calaway Park has seen growth as it has maintained its tradition of providing family fun. This past season, the park has added a new ride and upgraded buildings to keep the park a fresh experience.
New for 2023 was a Zierer Jet Ski Ride. The nature of this attraction gives riders some interactive control to carve their path in the water pool as the arms rotate around a central hub in the middle of the reservoir.
“Riptide Racer was selected as Calaway Park’s new ride because the ride experience perfectly matches our demographic. It is a family fun ride,” said General Manager Bob Williams. “Members of our team traveled to Legoland New York to experience the ride for themselves, as well as observe its operation. After one ride, we were sold.”
For more than 20 years, Jet Ski Ride has been a perennial seller for Zierer.
“Zierer installed the first Jet Ski Ride in Carlsbad, California, at Legoland California in 1999,” said Bill Ossim, sales, North America, Zierer. “We’ve since installed about 40 units worldwide.”
Riders board from the center. Guests ride in a standing position and control their vehicle as it speeds through the water. Certain maneuvers can create waves that not only create fun splashes but also affect riders behind them.
“The Jet Ski Ride is one of those rides that is entertaining for those watching from the mall,” Ossim told Amusement Today. “The riders actually control their path by steering into or away from the center ring. Rides that allow the guest to control the experience are always very popular; adding the water element steps up that experience to another level.”
Calaway Park purchased the Jet Ski with nine vehicles, but it is also available in a six-unit model.
“Just after the ride opened, I had a mom approach me after riding Riptide Racer with her son,” said Williams. “They couldn’t have been more excited and proclaimed it was their new favorite ride at Calaway Park. Our guests are thrilled with this new addition to the park. It is simply a fun ride, and they are having fun every time they experience it.”
With the Canadian location, AT asked Williams if water attractions are still popular in the north.
“Though Canadian winters can be cold, our summers are warmer than many might realize,” he said. “We have been consistently adding attractions to the park to help our guests cool off during their day. Two of our most popular rides, the Timber Falls log ride and Bumper Boats, are water rides, and in 2019 we added CP Spray n’ Play, which has been a home run. In 2022, we had 74 days of our 100-day operation that were over 20 degrees Celius (or 68 Fahrenheit).”
Zierer supplies the attraction with various themed vehicles.
“The Riptide Racer uses our Rescue Boat theme,” said Ossim. “This theme is very fitting for the Jet Ski Ride. We have several standard theme options. However, our art and fabrication department has been challenged and effectively developed some great custom themes.”
Children between 40 and 52 inches must ride with an adult. Guests over 52 inches can choose to ride alone or with another.
“It is great to watch parents and children experience the ride together, while those single riders, whether a child or adult, get to create their own rider experience,” said Williams.
A Chaos ride was retired to make space for the new addition. Calaway Park had been in talks with Zierer for some time.
“We initially were working on a much larger project, but with the COVID interruption, the park decided to wait on that project and went with the Jet Ski Ride,” said Ossim.
In addition to the new ride, the park has done a major upgrade with new, whimsically themed buildings.
“Calaway Park’s Main Street buildings have had the same theme and façades since our opening in 1982. They had served us well but had reached the end of their life cycle,” Williams told AT. “It was time to replace the materials, and that gave us the opportunity to refresh the look with a new theme. Four buildings were completed in the winter of 2022/2023. They include Village Shop, our gift store; Sweet Toothe Candy Shop; Little Bucks bumper cars and The Burger Inn.”
Three-dimensional sculptures make the structures fun and inviting.
“Each building has its own theme,” Williams said. “This completes the west side of our Main Street, and there are plans to complete the remaining buildings in the coming years. We worked with JRA to complete the initial concept and then worked with a local studio named Studio Y to complete the building façades and installation. This is just the beginning, and we are excited for our guests to experience the area once the project is complete.”
More than 30 rides are offered to guests. In addition to the amusement park, Calaway Park has a 104-site campground within a short walking distance of the rides and offers views of the mountains. Calaway Park is the largest outdoor amusement park in Western Canada.