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Future of Walt Disney World Waterparks?

Big Phil

Well-Known Member
Never got to see River Country. Hard to believe for a brief time (5 years or so?) there were three Water Parks at Disney and then 4 theme parks. I don't know if they'll invest in anything for a water park right now. I am not sure they need to at the moment. Typhoon Lagoon is still the best water park I have ever been to. Haven't been to Volcano Bay yet, admittedly.
 

mergatroid

Well-Known Member
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.
Disney's water parks are different though in that they're themed quite extensively. A number of slides are landscaped into the actual mountain so there's not much you can do to change those slides without having to rebuild a huge chunk of the 'mountain'. Places like Wet 'n' Wild didn't used to have that problem as they didn't hide their support structures, so they could just knock one down and build another in it's place.

Typhoon Lagoon had several additions to it a few years back including a family raft ride along with a couple of coaster slides, these were built in an area that didn't previously contain much. It actually looks pretty good though it's not quite as well themed as the other parts of the park.
 

seascape

Well-Known Member
I actually like the Disney Water parks. The lazy river and wave pool are what I enjoy the most. Specifically Blizzard Beach is the park my wife enjoy the most so we go there at least once a year. Now, should Disney expand the two parks If course they should. Attendance in 2022 will go back to precovid numbers and expand from their. Disney needs to expand their 4 parks and 2 water parks. They should also add a real Boardwalk area at Disney Springs with 2 rollercoasters, Merry-go-round, a decent sized ferris wheel and a handful of flat rides on the surface parking lot.
 

RollerCoaster

Well-Known Member
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.
Wet 'n Wild was a water park, not a theme park. It was an amazing park with a great collection of water slides, which was exactly the point. Anyone who expected it to have themes totally missed the point of the park.

Volcano Bay is a water theme park. I would not call it an updated replacement either. Wet 'n Wild was owned and operated by Universal merely for the real estate, not as an extension of their park business. You didn't see Wet 'n Wild listed under theme parks on universalorlando.com.
 

RollerCoaster

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.

Do you not realize that Florida's waterparks are open year-round? The water is heated and quite comfortable in the winter months. The waterparks may close for a few days each year when the weather is unusually cold. There is no reason to incur the costly expense of building an indoor waterpark in Orlando.
 

RollerCoaster

Well-Known Member
Disney's waterparks are more of an add-on attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort. They serve their purpose but aren't the main attractions like the four theme parks or Disney Springs is.

It's unlikely that Disney will make sizeable, notable investments in either park. However, they have been spending money in the parks lately on maintenance and did build a sizable family raft ride in Typhoon Lagoon.

I still can't believe that Typhoon Lagoon remains closed.
 

James Norrie

Well-Known Member
TL Looks abandoned right now....
 

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Smiley/OCD

Well-Known Member
Something like this?


Or this?

Or on a smaller scale, this?


Well, minus the nude sections... probably not something Disney would want.
Or even Great Wolf Lodge in Scotun, PA or the DreamWorks water park at the NJ Meadowlands...
 

GimpYancIent

Well-Known Member
I ran the Disney Marathon several years ago in the snow...couldn't believe snow was falling as we started the race!
Yes! There are times it does get COOOLD! 2018 start temperature was 27 and by the time I arrived at MK it was 26, but, by the time I got to AK, w the help of the sun, it was above freezing and getting warmer. That said, there have been times just standing still in the shade at MK consuming a cooling Dole Whip I am sweating in torrents. So yea there is absolutely a place for the Water Parks.
 

KrzyKtty

Well-Known Member
I don't know, I'm not Disney, but I don't think that they really see Volcano Bay as a threat. I think most people tend to see the water parks as an extra to an already planned trip. As much fun as they are, I don't know if anybody that's going to travel all the way to Universal or Disney just for their water park. It's one of those things that's a fun add-on to a trip you're already planning. So if somebody was already planning on going to both Disney World and Universal, true they might tend to go to volcano Bay over the Disney parks. But I highly doubt if somebody was planning a Disney trip, that they'd go out of their way to go to Universal just for the water park.
 

flynnibus

Premium Member
Resort Pool complexes are on the rise at other properties... 'mini water parks' are more and more common in resort destinations.

Disney just finished hobbling its way through adapting all it's pools to be access controled. I doubt they will rework them radically anytime soon. Even recent pool refurbs like the Poly and some of the Mods were pretty modest.

I wouldn't be suprised if Disney actually shrinks it's water park investment in the future as the current parks age. It should be a feature to help extend hotel stays... but Disney has been so park commando focused these days I wouldn't be suprised if the water parks continue to fall out of favor due to high operational costs.
 

HauntedPirate

Sheltered-at-home Park nostalgist
Premium Member
Resort Pool complexes are on the rise at other properties... 'mini water parks' are more and more common in resort destinations.

Disney just finished hobbling its way through adapting all it's pools to be access controled. I doubt they will rework them radically anytime soon. Even recent pool refurbs like the Poly and some of the Mods were pretty modest.

I wouldn't be suprised if Disney actually shrinks it's water park investment in the future as the current parks age. It should be a feature to help extend hotel stays... but Disney has been so park commando focused these days I wouldn't be suprised if the water parks continue to fall out of favor due to high operational costs.

We like having something else to do, and a family outing to BB was fantastic for us in March. Reducing investment in the water parks would be a mistake, IMHO, but you're probably spot on. Current Disney/TDO management is lost in a forest and can't see the trees...
 

RollerCoaster

Well-Known Member
Resort Pool complexes are on the rise at other properties... 'mini water parks' are more and more common in resort destinations.

Disney just finished hobbling its way through adapting all it's pools to be access controled. I doubt they will rework them radically anytime soon. Even recent pool refurbs like the Poly and some of the Mods were pretty modest.

I wouldn't be suprised if Disney actually shrinks it's water park investment in the future as the current parks age. It should be a feature to help extend hotel stays... but Disney has been so park commando focused these days I wouldn't be suprised if the water parks continue to fall out of favor due to high operational costs.

High operational costs? You lose all credibility in response when you make a comment that directly contradicts the reality. Waterparks do not have high operating costs, especially when compared to a theme park.

Furthermore, Disney has largely not made significant investments in any of their waterparks after the initial opening. How can you say "I wouldn't be surprised if Disney actually shrinks it's water park investment in the future..." when they've never really made consistent cap-ex improvements in the past? Blizzard Beach is the same park as when it opened. Typhoon Lagoon has had one significant addition, but clearly on a budget and a more recent addition that replaced a retired attraction.

The Disney waterparks for the most part do not extend hotel stays. Most folks visit Disney for the theme parks and the waterparks are an alternate activity. For waterpark fans however, boh Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, are exceptional waterparks that are must visits.
 

flynnibus

Premium Member
High operational costs? You lose all credibility in response when you make a comment that directly contradicts the reality. Waterparks do not have high operating costs, especially when compared to a theme park.

Well I didn't compare them to a theme park because... Disney doesn't have a theme park to operate in its place. Nor is it directly competing with that as a reason to exist. What it's compared to is more what Disney has for everything else on the property... aka entertainment it has in recent decades convinced OTHER companies to operate and pay Disney for the privilege to be there.

They are high cost to operate. High maintenance, include large amounts of labor, including labor that costs more, with limited operating hours compared to alternatives. There are reasons you see most regional waterparks die with only the largest, strongest, usually diversified companies lasting 10+ years. They also have high overheads like insurance and attraction refresh investments necessary.

Contrast this with something like Golf, retail, bars, etc and you can see how Disney has to spend a good bit of money all the time to keep these businesses running. Verse alternatives like... sitting back and collecting leases and profit sharing.

Add into this, this is a business Disney largely "gives away" in its ticketing strategy, further reducing its ability to directly control its own PnL... due to a large part of their admissions coming from whatever their split is from their combined ticket revenue model.

Furthermore, Disney has largely not made significant investments in any of their waterparks after the initial opening. How can you say "I wouldn't be surprised if Disney actually shrinks it's water park investment in the future..." when they've never really made consistent cap-ex improvements in the past? Blizzard Beach is the same park as when it opened. Typhoon Lagoon has had one significant addition, but clearly on a budget and a more recent addition that replaced a retired attraction.

How can I say? Well I'm not one that said Disney hasn't made significant investments - because I know they've had to to keep is running as they have. You don't get a water park to run and stay in great shape like they have for 30 years without spending a hefty amount of money.

They've made attraction additions at TL (the water coaster, the new family raft ride, and I believe at least one other set of slides was changed) - but yes, not at the pace common at other parks. Largely because most regional parks add rides to try to bring people BACK to the park - Typhoon Lagoon doesn't have that same need when it's largest customer base is the WDW audience already there. Plus, when they needed more capacity, they instead just added a whole other park!

Complaints the parks are largely stagnant over the last 20 years are valid - but Disney has already shown through its history that this doesn't seem to be the deciding factor. My argument is the bigger factor is the larger macro economic approach Disney has been taking towards WDW.


The Disney waterparks for the most part do not extend hotel stays. Most folks visit Disney for the theme parks and the waterparks are an alternate activity

Uhh.. that's what 'extend stays' means. If there is nothing else to do, you don't plan as long of trips. When Disney pumps the marketing engine to tell everyone about 'all the amazing things to see and do at WDW!!' - people plan to make time to try to experience more... aka... extend trips.
 

ppete1975

Well-Known Member
i think what they have right now is what their goal was and that goal hasnt changed.
A family friendly water park to keep you from leaving property that can be added to your ticket as another bump up.
I dont see them adding anything extreme as they want kids and families as their target audience.
They arent competing with universal in water parks, all they want is to keep you on property.
Go to the parks cool off at the water parks.. no need to leave.
Kind of like a golf course, they dont need augusta they just need a fun relaxing golf course to keep you there.

As far as water... once they are filled i dont think they use that much water as its just recycled and reused. Evaporation is the main issue and that isnt that bad.
 

Heppenheimer

Well-Known Member
I'm not exactly a waterpark connoisseur, so let me know if I'm wrong here... but have their really been any technical innovations in waterparks over the past 30 years that would justify heavy re-investment in Disney's waterparks? I've basically seen three new types of water rides since I was a kid. One is the water-coaster, or whatever you call it, that Typhoon Lagoon already has. Another is one of those... well, I'm not sure what the trade name is, but I'll call it a "Toilet Bowl" slide:


The third I'll call a "drop slide":


As far as I'm concerned, the themes of both Disney water parks are perfect, so if there really isn't that much new in the world of water slides, why spend the money on new capital-intense construction?

I love the themed saunas that German waterparks usually feature, but these probably wouldn't be nearly as refreshing in Florida's heat. And the US doesn't really have a sauna culture anyway (or the same attitude towards mixed-gender nudity).
 

flynnibus

Premium Member
As far as I'm concerned, the themes of both Disney water parks are perfect, so if there really isn't that much new in the world of water slides, why spend the money on new capital-intense construction?

I love the themed saunas that German waterparks usually feature, but these probably wouldn't be nearly as refreshing in Florida's heat. And the US doesn't really have a sauna culture anyway (or the same attitude towards mixed-gender nudity).

You had the bowl slides... you have the big half pipe stuff... you have drop slides... you have standing wave attractions (flowmaster, etc)... just to name a few concepts.
 

cookiee_munster

Well-Known Member
Never got to see River Country. Hard to believe for a brief time (5 years or so?) there were three Water Parks at Disney and then 4 theme parks. I don't know if they'll invest in anything for a water park right now. I am not sure they need to at the moment. Typhoon Lagoon is still the best water park I have ever been to. Haven't been to Volcano Bay yet, admittedly.
You weren't missing out. I went in August 2001, and it was... bleurgh.
 

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