World Waterpark Association shares highlights of its in-person event
Returning to an in-person event saw this year’s World Waterpark Association (WWA) 41st Annual Symposium and Trade Show, held 19th-22nd October in San Antonio, Texas, welcome close to 1,400 owners, operators, developers and suppliers who were excited to spend quality time together learning and checking out new products and services.
Within this number were more than 325 first-time show attendees, many of whom were coming off their first or second season working in a waterpark environment.
WWA President, Rick Root advises “there’s nothing like the energy that is generated when our group meets up at our annual show, but it was even more powerful to see everyone face to face again—in workshops and sessions, on the show floor and at the Annual Reunion Party.
“We saw a strong turnout from both park and supplier attendees who were looking to reconnect with each other in meaningful ways throughout the whole show experience.”
Rick Hunter from ProSlide Technology enthused “this year’s show exceeded our expectations! It was a beautiful coming together of our waterpark friends and partners who showed their purposeful intentions of getting right back into new waterpark projects and making things happen. The WWA Show in San Antonio was a super reminder of how great this waterpark industry is and how important we are to each other in this WWA community.”
Paul Chutter from WhiteWater added “It was an incredible feeling to have our entire industry back together again. Our two years apart that once felt like an eternity quickly turned into a distant memory given the quality of this year’s WWA Show.”
“As an opportunity to touch base with clients, share knowledge and showcase the latest projects happening within our industry, the WWA show is an excellent venue,” said Jim Dunn, Aquatic Development Group. “It was great to see so many of our long-time clients, friends and colleagues in person again!”
Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, World Waterpark Association highlighted “this show remains the once-a-year opportunity for waterpark owners and operators to sit in a room together to share ideas, compare notes and ask for help with challenges. They come to this show to create industry connections.”
“The annual WWA Show continues to be the best value for the money for my team,” said Mark Moore, General Manager, Gulf Islands Waterpark. “We experienced incredible educational sessions, multiple networking opportunities and a trade show full of vendors who are there to support any and all kinds of waterparks. We are already excited to attend again in 2022.”
“After a couple of particularly challenging seasons, the WWA Show helped our team to refocus and recommit to our goals as we look to next year and beyond. Whether it’s new ideas, new products or new friends, we always leave this show with something,” said Katie Anderson, Park Manager, Fun-Plex.
WWA’s Education Program
More than 120 thought-provoking speakers shared their latest best practices on the things that matter most, including: operational safety, hiring and recruitment, maintenance, revenue generation and much more.
“The education sessions at the WWA Show are unmatched. This is the best place to meet with, and learn from the leaders in the waterpark industry, hands down,” said Nichole Bohner, Aquatics Manager, Round Rock Parks And Recreation. “I really enjoyed the revenue session on Friday and all of the panellists who brought great ideas from all kinds of different facilities to the table. I walked away with multiple actions we plan to incorporate at our park next summer.”
Highlights from the educational program included: “Decluttering COVID – Choosing What Marketing & Revenue Strategies To Keep,” “Employee Injury Reduction Panel,” “Boot Scoot ‘N Boogie – Operational Safety Step By Step,” “Recruitment Marketing: The Ups And Downs Of The Comeback Season,” “Addressing Employee Wellness And Navigating Maladaptive Guest Behaviours,” “Expanding The Guest Experience To Maximise Sales & Guest Relations,” “Blended/Virtual Learning In Today’s World,” “The New-Norm Employee Experience: 5 Essentials For Creating A Happy And Effective Team” and “Operational Safety – Shifting Views To Empower.”
Other timely topics covered at this year’s show include: restarting your group sales plan, building an effective lifeguard team, emergency preparedness and response planning, addressing guest behavioural issues and hiring new team members.
“This show was a great opportunity to learn from other parks about the struggles they had with employee hiring and reduction in hours and operating days in 2021,” said Bob Martin, General Manager, Island Waterpark. “Hearing them speak about what plans they are making for the 2022 season if staffing issues continue was so important. This issue is our biggest concern for the upcoming season and attending the show presented our park with new options.”
In addition to the wide variety of breakout sessions and workshops, this year’s WWA show offered attendees the chance to hear “Stories In Leaderships,” shared by Mark Rucker, a 30+ year industry veteran who has spent decades leading some of the world’s top leisure brands, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Great Wolf Resorts.
Rucker shared both difficult and rewarding stories that span from his early career to those during his time as an executive. He covered a wide range of key topics and leadership imperatives throughout his engaging address.
“Leadership isn’t a title or position. It’s the demonstration of key attributes at a specific time regardless of title or position,” said Rucker. “And for people with the title or position of leadership, it’s the demonstration of key attributes over a period-of-time that defines them as a true leader.”
As part of his Keynote address, Rucker encouraged attendees to build relationships that support their leadership commitment. “Surround yourself with open, honest people who will help you in varied aspects of life and leadership,” said Rucker. “Don't be afraid to ask for time to meet with those people. Be willing to reciprocate...there is nothing more important than giving back—commit to loving care for, and service to, others!”
WWA Exhibit Hall Displays Hundreds of Waterpark Products
The 2021 WWA Trade Show featured 1000 square metres of exhibit space with more than 200 companies showcasing new products and services in more than 315 booths. The WWA exhibit hall floor is the largest water leisure industry marketplace that allows waterpark, aquatic and waterpark resort professionals to intersect with the newest and most innovative products and services.
WWA Board Presents Industry Awards and the 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees
An annual highlight of the WWA Show is the recognition of industry leaders, innovators and pioneers by WWA’s Board of Directors, with the ceremony being held during the Opening General Session on 20th October, 2021. Each year the Board recognises member contributions in a variety of areas significant to the industry’s success such as: dedication to guest and employee safety; excellence in leadership; innovation and creativity in designing new themes and attractions.
“Having this opportunity to shine a light on individuals and companies that are making a difference each and every day is a privilege that we take seriously as members of the WWA Board,” said Damien Latham, Chair of the WWA’s Board of Directors. “There was so much amazing innovative work to recognise that we had a record number of Leading Edge Awards in 2021, with nine projects honoured!”
WWA Hall of Fame:
This year, the WWA inducted two new individuals into the WWA Hall of Fame and celebrated two inductees selected in 2020. The Hall of Fame honours the water leisure industry’s most important and visionary pioneers and innovators. This year’s honourees were:
- Jim Basala, Deep River Waterpark (2020)
- Richard “RAC” Carroll, Ellis & Associates (2021)
- Jim Dunn, Aquatic Development Group (2020)
- Randy Neuman, Neuman Pools Inc & Neuman Group (2021)
Board of Directors’ Awards:
The WWA Board of Directors recognised the exceptional accomplishments of 36 recipients in 2021 including:
- Al Turner Memorial Commitment to Excellence Award: Tina Hatcher, 3i Advertising, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, U.S.A.
- Executive Board Award: Wet’n’Wild Hawaii for their Solar Panel Installation, Kapolei, Hawaii, U.S.A.
- Kelly Ogle Memorial Safety Award: Bob Bradley, Aquatic Consulting & Educational Services, LLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Leading Edge Award:
Atlantis – Aquaventure and Murphys Waves Ltd, ProSlide Technology Inc, Riverflow Pumps by Current Systems and Water Technology, Inc. for their work on the Aquaventure Waterpark expansion; the City of Garden City, Kansas and Confluence, Splashtacular and Water Technology, Inc. for their work on Garden Rapids at the Big Pool; Europa-Park GmbH & Co Mack KG, Mack NeXT GmbH & Co KG, Mack Solutions, PGAV Destinations, ProSlide Technology Inc and Rulantica GmbH & Co Mack KG for their work on the Rulantica Waterpark outdoor expansion; Polin Waterparks for their development of Utexture technology; Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Chicago and Ramaker & Associates and WhiteWater for their work on “Tsunami Surge;” Studio City Water Park and Water Technology, Inc. and WhiteWater for their work on Studio City Water Park; Tolomato Community Development District-Nocatee and WET Engineering, Inc. and WhiteWater for their work on “Parallel Pursuit;” Triple Five Group and American Wave Machines, ProSlide Technology Inc, Water Technology, Inc. / Neuman Group and Weber Group for their work on DreamWorks Water Park; VinWonders Phu Quoc and Polin Waterparks for their work on Typhoon World at VinWonders Phu Quoc.
Next year, the World Waterpark Association’s 42th annual show’s show will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada and is set for 4th-7th, October with the trade show occurring on 5th & 6th October.
The show will be headquartered at Caesars Forum Conference Center and Harrah’s Las Vegas, both of which are centrally located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Attendees will be steps away from The LINQ Promenade, an open-air retail, dining and entertainment district, anchored by the world’s tallest observation wheel, known as the High Roller.
Visit WWAShow.org for more details about the 2022 show.
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