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Future of Walt Disney World Waterparks?

Splashin' Ryan

Active Member
Original Poster
I've been thinking for a while 🤔about just what Disney might do with their waterparks 💦over the coming years and decades especially after the opening of Volcano Bay.
With every announcement or special event like the 50th happening, it feels almost everyone seems to overlook the waterparks.

Rarely is something new ever added to either of the waterparks on property yet I feel so much could be added. Waterpark ride technology has advanced so much since both parks opened that they're falling behind innovation-wise. I would like to note that in no way am I saying either Waterpark isn't successful, TL is the 2nd most visited waterpark in the world and BB is 3rd, I'm talking purely offering-wise.

Below is a list of questions I've been thinking of and would love to hear everyone's thoughts on! (some are a little crazy but I'm thinking long term plans :D)

Does Disney see Volcano Bay as a threat to their waterpark attendance and do they feel the need to compete with them?
Does Disney not want to heavily invest in either park because they are already the most popular on earth?
Does Disney want to / should Disney add more newer higher thrill water attractions like toilet bowls, wall slides where you're vertical, more advanced water coasters, water play structures, etc?
Is it a bad idea to continue investing in waterparks if the public opinion on "excessive" water use changes in the coming decades?
Would Disney see more worth in shutting down one of the water parks entirely to make more space for a new park far in the future as it would almost assuredly bring in more revenue and guests?

*if there is a thread this would fit into better please direct me there :)*
 

UBPurpleKnights

Well-Known Member
Does Disney see Volcano Bay as a threat to their waterpark attendance and do they feel the need to compete with them?
Yeah, Volcano Bay is a smashing success but I don't think it's taking too much business away from BB or TL.
Does Disney not want to heavily invest in either park because they are already the most popular on earth?
I think the only way Disney will invest serious money into TL and/or BB is if (and when) Universal builds a 2nd water park. You never know, they might feel the need to build a 3rd water park if Universal opens up another one. (RIP River Country)
Does Disney want to / should Disney add more newer higher thrill water attractions like toilet bowls, wall slides where you're vertical, more advanced water coasters, water play structures, etc?
You would think so...
Is it a bad idea to continue investing in waterparks if the public opinion on "excessive" water use changes in the coming decades?
Disney will probably find some way to "conserve" water.
Would Disney see more worth in shutting down one of the water parks entirely to make more space for a new park far in the future as it would almost assuredly bring in more revenue and guests?
I still think it was a bad idea to close down River Country almost 20 years ago but Disney felt TL and BB were good enough.
 

pixie225

Well-Known Member
I think Disney will not invest any more $$ into upgrading their waterparks. To tell you the truth I was not that impressed with Volcano Bay when we went. As far as River Country went, my kids always came out of there with ear infections! The water was kinda gross, with the ducks and all swimming in it. Unless they rebuild it with a water purification system I don't think it would be a big draw or money maker.
 

networkpro

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
Yes
I'd go for a different tact. In Orlando, Disney was second to market and on a smaller scale to Wet N Wild which opened in 1977. When it closed, it had 17 different slides but anyone who had gone there will say the same thing, it lacked any cohesive theming other than just water. Volcano Bay was just an updated replacement.

Having two different parks available instead of one means Disney has the flexibility to do comprehensive maintenance and still provide the water park experience to its guests.

Another thing to consider is also market saturation, there are other water parks in the area to consider: Aquatica, CoCo Key, Island H2O to name a few.
 

Splashin' Ryan

Active Member
Original Poster
Another thing to consider is also market saturation, there are other water parks in the area to consider: Aquatica, CoCo Key, Island H2O to name a few.
That's something I was thinking of too, all the other area waterparks seem to add a new attraction every few years but at the same time, they still don't feel like a true competition to either of Disney's waterparks despite possibly having more newer and exciting rides. It's still good for the overall local business when there is variation in the market for a product though.
 

Papa M

Member
Interesting topic. TL and BB have not changed much since their opening but have been kept incredibly clean and vibrant. While there may be other water parks in the Orlando area; Disney still holds high rankings for their aquatic attractions. That said, visitors go to WDW to see the "whole" package. TL and BB are not exactly the primary reason visitors seek WDW as a destination, but rather, the water parks provide a nice respite from the theme parks and an opportunity to "wind down the pace a bit". We have always enjoyed a half day at each water park when visiting; a whole day in the heat and sun is just too much to endure. I miss River Country as well, but the upkeep must have been expensive given it's location and theming.
 

"El Magnifico"

Premium Member
I'd rather see an enhancement in resort pools. Waterparks are okay. Extremely crowded in some cases, but enjoyable. The allure of River Country was it's size, theme, and acceptable crowd level.

If say, you built out some of the resort pools to include a few more slides, a lazy river, and some other features - that would be the way to go IMO. It would enhance the value proposition of staying on-property and more than likely keep people on property. If you look at some resorts (outside of Disney) with first class pool areas - Hilton Orlando, Hilton Bonnet Creek and a few others, that is one of the main draws to those resorts.
 
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cookiee_munster

Well-Known Member
Seems crazy to think that Florida does get cold during the winter months especially when everything looks so tropical, i think the next investment should be some kind of waterpark that could be used all year round and not have to close during the winter period, maybe something like a vented roof that could cover the main swimming area, or even a heated pool? i'm just spitballing.
 

Splashin' Ryan

Active Member
Original Poster
If say, you built out some of the resort pools to include a few more slides, a lazy river, and some other features - that would be the way to go IMO. It would enhance the value proposition of staying on-property and more than likely keep people on property.
I hope for the same thing too. With the ever-increasing room rates, and the slow removal of on-site stay benefits, Disney will eventually realize they'll need something to draw people back in, maybe that'll do the trick!
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Seems crazy to think that Florida does get cold during the winter months especially when everything looks so tropical, i think the next investment should be some kind of waterpark that could be used all year round and not have to close during the winter period, maybe something like a vented roof that could cover the main swimming area, or even a heated pool? i'm just spitballing.
The water parks need to close every year for extended maintenance anyways.
 

nickys

Premium Member
Seems crazy to think that Florida does get cold during the winter months especially when everything looks so tropical, i think the next investment should be some kind of waterpark that could be used all year round and not have to close during the winter period, maybe something like a vented roof that could cover the main swimming area, or even a heated pool? i'm just spitballing.
One of the water parks remains open during the winter. Each year they change which one has maintenance carried out first. I went to TL for a couple of hours between Christmas and New Year. Hoping for our next Christmas trip that BB is open.
 

nickys

Premium Member
I'd rather see an enhancement in resort pools. Waterparks are okay. Extremely crowded in some cases, but enjoyable. The allure of River Country was it's size, theme, and acceptable crowd level.

If say, you built out some of the resort pools to include a few more slides, a lazy river, and some other features - that would be the way to go IMO. It would enhance the value proposition of staying on-property and more than likely keep people on property. If you look at some resorts (outside of Disney) with first class pool areas - Hilton Orlando, Hilton Bonnet Creek and a few others, that is one of the main draws to those resorts.
SAB will never be repeated. The upkeep and costs of life guards is way too high and they can’t recoup the costs by selling tickets for it. There is no reason for Disney to invest huge amounts in resort pools, since they really don’t have a problem filling their rooms. Resorts which do see a drop in occupancy rates can always have some rooms repurposed as DVC - see WL, Poly, GF as examples.
 

UBPurpleKnights

Well-Known Member
Not sure closing down a water park that could cause you to get sick from swimming was a bad idea....
Okay yes a little boy died in the early 80s from contracting a fatal case of amoebic meningoencephalitis. Rather, the biggest reason for River Country’s closure is that the park simply couldn’t sustain demand next to its much larger siblings, especially in the midst of the massive travel slowdown following the attacks of 9/11.
 
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Heppenheimer

Well-Known Member
Seems crazy to think that Florida does get cold during the winter months especially when everything looks so tropical, i think the next investment should be some kind of waterpark that could be used all year round and not have to close during the winter period, maybe something like a vented roof that could cover the main swimming area, or even a heated pool? i'm just spitballing.
Something like this?


Or this?

Or on a smaller scale, this?


Well, minus the nude sections... probably not something Disney would want.
 

Splashin' Ryan

Active Member
Original Poster
There is something to be said about the popularity of indoor waterparks. Up in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, there are three massive water parks all with great attendance. Even in places where it isn't cold, indoor waterparks are expanding such as Great Wolf Lodge or Kalahari, both massive water park chains.
 

denyuntilcaught

Well-Known Member
Interesting topic. TL and BB have not changed much since their opening but have been kept incredibly clean and vibrant. While there may be other water parks in the Orlando area; Disney still holds high rankings for their aquatic attractions. That said, visitors go to WDW to see the "whole" package. TL and BB are not exactly the primary reason visitors seek WDW as a destination, but rather, the water parks provide a nice respite from the theme parks and an opportunity to "wind down the pace a bit". We have always enjoyed a half day at each water park when visiting; a whole day in the heat and sun is just too much to endure. I miss River Country as well, but the upkeep must have been expensive given it's location and theming.

My thoughts exactly. TL and BB do not exist as attractions on their own; rather just fodder to extend the guest's average stay and thus drive up room revenue. When viewed in that regard, I completely get why Disney doesn't really tend too much to these parks. The need isn't there.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
1. Disney has most guests stationary on property. If they are going to a water park it would be more convenient to go to Disneys. Volcano Bay may get some guests going off property but its not enough to worry Disney.
2. The water parks are popular but not to the extent that the 4 parks are. Disney will invest money when needed but they arent the priority the parks are, but even the parks are lacking in improvement/ maintenance funding thats sorely needed.
3. I dont see Disney viewing the need to compete for the thrill water things other parks have. They do what they have to to keep guests coming and dont have the desire to be known as the water park kings.
4. People are on vacation. I think when it comes to them going to water parks they dont look at them as needing water conservation like they do in other areas. The numbers of people who actually act on their beliefs and conserve water, recycle and do all the other things connected to conservation and helping the planet are very small compared to those who dont do anything at all. Ex. Our city gave every residence and business recycle bins and tried to get everyone to use them. After a short time they realized the bins were being used for garbage, garage storage and other uses other than being used at all for recycling. The % of residents actually using them came out to about 5%.
5. If and when Disney decides its time for a 5th park, yes they will easily sacrifice a water park, if they have the land space it needs. Water parks dont bring in the profits a park would with all that comes with it.
 

"El Magnifico"

Premium Member
SAB will never be repeated. The upkeep and costs of life guards is way too high and they can’t recoup the costs by selling tickets for it. There is no reason for Disney to invest huge amounts in resort pools, since they really don’t have a problem filling their rooms. Resorts which do see a drop in occupancy rates can always have some rooms repurposed as DVC - see WL, Poly, GF as examples.

Possibly. But doing something along those lines does present some opportunities. If (and I hope they don't), but if Disney ever were to go the route of introducing a "resort fee" this would be something that would justify (in Disney's eyes - not ours) the cost.

Take a look at GF as an example. ~850 rooms. Say Disney wants to introduce a daily resort fee of $50 that includes Disney Transportation, access to resort amenities and use of a spruced up pool - equipped with enhanced features and maybe some enhanced dining options.

Assuming 100% occupancy a $50 daily resort fee equates to over $15 Million just for that one property. Now, $50 isn't all going to upkeep and associated pool costs, but let's say $15 of it does. That's still $4.5 Million. Yes. There is cost to build it out, and yes, there would be cost to maintain. I think the $4.5 M would more than cover the maintenance, utility costs, and salaries. The question becomes the outlay in building it out and what that ROI looks like. And maybe the math doesn't work at that point.

I remember once when I was staying at Hilton Orlando, I started a conversation with the front desk manager. I asked "how come you guys charge a higher resort fee than most places? Considering some properties don't charge one at all". He looked at me and asked "Out of curiosity, what prompted you to stay with us this trip?" I replied - "the pool is great". He smiled. I smiled. That was the end of the conversation.
 
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