The barefoot challenge


Earlier this summer, I enjoyed several visits to various water parks. Some were all-day affairs and others were just brief stops for an hour or two.

I have enough water park experience under my belt to know that some type of water shoes can be a valuable benefit. But when planning to be on site for a brief time, I don’t always have the footwear in hand on each visit. And looking around, I see more than half of water park visitors are barefoot as well.

While this is nothing new, there is no denying that a problem exists — a major one. At virtually every water park I visited, I saw many guests hopping about because concrete walkways became sizzling hot. Painfully so. And, yes, I can bear witness from personal experience.

Within weeks I noticed how vast the range of effort was placed into alleviating the problem. Some parks offered shaded areas to ward off the severity and some purposefully sprayed the walkways down to cool them off. Sadly, more often than not, there was no relief to be found for guests feeling their feet scorched to excruciating levels.

I found the apathy to this problem to be quite disheartening. The solution can’t just be: “We have footwear for purchase in our gift shops.” The guest experience then spirals downward from pained to pained so badly they feel gouged by having to purchase extra items for their children.

To water park operators everywhere, I offer this challenge: Before the hot days of summer come to a close, make a move to where it is mandatory that all supervisors must walk barefoot in the middle of the afternoon. Even if it is for only 15 minutes. If management is subjected to the hot walkways for even a fraction of the time guests are, problem areas will certainly be determined. From this challenge, hopefully progress can be made and the guest experience can climb even higher.

This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Amusement Today.

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