Takeaways from WWA 2017

David Sangree, MAI, CPA, ISHC and John Burke attended the World Waterpark Association’s annual conference and tradeshow in West Palm Beach, Florida October 16-19, 2017. David was a speaker for two sessions including WWA University: Waterpark Development, Design & Expansion Workshop and Waterpark & Resort Trends Across the Globe. David and John had the following takeaways from this year’s conference.


  • Waterpark and other attraction manufactures are seeing a greater interest in their products from campground and RV park owner and operators.  Sales to RV parks have increased each year since 2013, and owners are looking to add amenities to increase their average rates and lengths of stay with waterparks and other attractions.


  • Attendance at the top 20 waterparks worldwide increased 3.6% from 2015 to 2016 and has grown 30.7% since 2010. Of the top 20, EMEA has 3 parks with 13% of the top 20 facilities total attendance, Asia-Pacific has 8 with 38% of the attendance, Latin America has 4 with 21%, and North America has 5 with 28%. According to AECOM, China had over 50 waterparks open in 2016, and the rapid growth of new waterparks opening is expected to continue. The growth in the Asia-Pacific market is largely due to the growth of the middle class and investments in new signature attractions. Other trends in the Asia-Pacific are the size and quality of offerings is improving; waterparks are adding components that require an upcharge; and they are adding show and music elements to their parks.


  • Waterpark owners are continuing to look for new attractions they add to capture a higher revenue per visitor. One Mississippi outdoor waterpark owner added an adventure park (ropes course, zip line, etc) that provided an alternative to water based entertainment, expanded the operating season, increased length of stay, and had a low development cost. It benefits from the trend of Americans reengaging with the outdoors and fits with the family-friendly atmosphere of the waterpark. One of his biggest hurdles has been educating the government on what/how to inspect his facility to get through the building process.


  • Waterparks are increasing their use of yield management through improved pricing, marketing, and advertising. Based on a survey of 37 United States waterparks conducted by Morey Consulting, the average waterpark spent $0.92 per visitor on advertising while the top-performing waterparks spent $2.28 per person. The average price for waterparks was $26.25 while the top-performing waterparks averaged $37.79.


  • We congratulate the Hall of Fame members inducted in 2017 whom we have worked closely with over the years: Ken Ellis, Franceen Gonzales, and Bob Nagel.  You all deserve the recognition!!