An Open Letter To The CEO Of Cedar Fair: Don’t Ruin Our Favorite Water Park!

On Thursday night I received an email from Schlitterbahn, the water park in New Braunfels that we travel over 1000 miles to visit every year.

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We have annual passes so I figured it was a thank you for being a loyal guest. But then I started to read.

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What?

I immediately Googled, found an article with the details and texted it to Sharon. Her response was the same as the one in my head. It’s four letters long and something that I won’t write on the blog because we’re (usually) pretty family-friendly around here.

We’re getting ready to make our yearly trip Schlitterbahn, and this news has been running through my head. I decided the best way to express my feelings was to write the CEO of Cedar Fair.

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The Most Popular Amusement & Theme Parks In The World, From The Group That Would Know

The list of the most popular theme and amusement parks in 2018 was recently released by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), which is an international non-profit association representing the world’s leading creators, developers, designers and producers of compelling places and experiences, worldwide. Their 1,600 members are designers, producers, consultants, vendors/supplies, developers, owners/operators etc., in/for theme parks, water parks, museums, zoos, corporate visitor centers, casinos, restaurants, branded experiences, multimedia spectaculars, retail spaces, resorts and hospitality, destination attractions and more.

But we’re just going to talk about theme parks today, since the13th annual TEA/AECOM 2018 Theme Index and Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report was just released. I think you’ll see that some of the results are pretty “same old, same old” (spoilers: Disney parks), but others give a good idea of theme parks and other attractions you might want to visit in the future, if they’re that popular and well attended.

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Electrical Shocks At A Water Park – Definitely NOT Something You Want To Feel. But People Did.

As per multiple reports, several visitors to Volcano Bay, the water park owned and operated by Universal Orlando Resort, complained of feeling electric currents while on an attraction on Sunday, causing the park to close several hours early that day for investigation.

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Our Long Term Love Affair With The Best Water Park In The World: Schlitterbahn, In New Braunfels, Texas

Joe and I have been going to Schlitterbahn Water Park in New Braunfels, Texas, nearly every year since 2006. For us, it’s our “happy place” vacation, where we don’t have to plan anything; we know where we’re going to go for the whole trip and we can “just go,” and play, relax and eat delicious food. Well, and visit Buc-ee’s, too. Probably several times (but I’m not obsessed).

So many people we know have more traditional places to visit every year. The mountains. The shore. How and why did we wind up with a water park like Schlitterbahn as our annual “go to” vacation? Well, I’ll tell ya…

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A Modern Day Look At WDW’s (Abandoned) River Country

Disney’s River Country opened in June 1976. Fashioned with an “ol’ swimmin’ hole” theme, it was Walt Disney World’s (WDW’s) first water park. Housed at the far end of Fort Wilderness, not far from Pioneer Hall and just steps away from the current-day Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, it featured a lake with a sandy bottom and a unique water filtering system that used confluent water from the adjacent Bay Lake (which was dammed off), creating a natural-looking man-made lagoon. The park’s water was at a higher level than the lake’s, which was an effort to prevent lake water from going directly into the park.

RCRiver Country had 12 attractions:

  • Upstream Plunge, a kidney shaped clean-water pool.
  • Slippery Slide Falls, two water slides that emptied into Upstream Plunge.
  • Kiddie Cove, a kids zone with two large water slides and a cove. This area was targeted toward preteens.
  • Barrel Bridge, a bumpy bridge with barrels under it, similar to the one at Tom Sawyer Island.
  • White Water Rapids, a 330-foot (100 m) long inner tube ride.
  • Bay Cove, a half-acre (2,000 m²) sand-bottom lake which featured a tire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and T-bar drop.
    • Boom Swing
    • Cable Ride
    • Tire Swing
  • Whoop ‘n’ Holler Hollow, two water slides, 260 ft (79 m) and 160 ft (49 m) long, that emptied into Bay Cove.
  • Bay Bridge
  • Indian Springs, a very small splash zone with fountains that sprayed kids. This area was mainly designed for guests under age 8.
  • Cypress Point Nature Trail, a trail among trees beside Bay Lake.
  • Pony Rides
  • Mercury WaterMouse Rental
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River Country circa 1977 (author unknown, public domain)

With the advent of the opening of two larger, more modern water parks at WDW, Typhoon Lagoon in 1989 and Blizzard Beach in 1995, River Country’s days were surely numbered and indeed, after the closing of the 2001 season (WDW’s water parks traditionally close in the wintertime, one at a time, to allow for maintenance and refurbishment), the park never reopened. They simply fenced it off and put up No Trespassing signs.

 

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