The unofficial start of Summer? You bet! That's what Memorial Day Weekend is for many of us, and especially at many amusement parks across the country. Dorney Park kicked off their Summer season this weekend by opening Wildwater Kingdom for the year - also celebrating its 30th anniversary. The park has seen some major renovations and is looking better than it has in a long time - there's seriously changes everywhere you look!
The park has redone their cabanas, located along the side of Wildwater Cove. The private retreats now feature all new furniture and coverings, making them the perfect place to relax throughout the day.
Also near the park's newer wave pool, the Oasis has moved in. It needed a new home after Snake Pit was added, and it now is in a secluded area in the back of the lounge area. It features adult beverages and plenty of places for people to recharge and rest.
Basically Wildwater Kingdom was repainted from head to toe. If there is a building on the premises, you can bet it got an all new coat of paint - and you can also count on nice, vibrant colors. Here are two examples - the entrance structure up top is now teal and yellow, and the changing rooms seen below have new brightly colored tops and new signage.
The locker building that went up is so huge that I couldn't even really get a nice photo of the whole thing! The structure replaces the older one that was crammed with lockers, and now guests have ample room to get set up for their day. The building can also be accessed from the other side (right along Talon) when the water park closes for the day.
The new lockers are keyless, and instead of waiting in a queue at a sales window plenty of these kiosks allow guests to quickly get access to their locker. The sale transaction is completed here, along with the set up of the keyless entry system that each locker has. A great move and also a wonderful use of modern technology.
Just down the new midway from the huge locker facility is this new open air market and seating area. This was previously home to a weird hodgepodge of pavilions that dated back to the water park's opening. That has totally been cleared out and the huge shade structures added, along with plenty of tables for guests who are devouring lunch.
In the center of the area is an open market, offering quick grab items for purchase. There's plenty of beverages along with fresh fruit and other goodies. Not only does the space function a hundred times better than before, it's also considerably easier on the eye. If for nothing else it's a great place to sit and watch Talon head through the Immelmann!
Moving deeper into the water park you can really get a sense for how different all the existing structures look with new paint. At the top is the park's second set of changing rooms, with all new bright paint and colors - that pink building on the end is a retail location. The lower photo shows just some of the food outlets in the center of Wildwater Kingdom, which look great now and all the hanging and potted plants aren't even out yet.
The park's original wave pool is unchanged, having seen major renovations a number of years ago - but the lounge area in front of it is. There's tons of new lounge chairs out (and throughout the entire park for that matter - can you imagine ordering several thousand chairs at once?) but there are also many new regular chairs as well. This is a smart move as many folks just use lounges as a storage space, instead of for lounging, and the chairs take up less room allowing many more of them to be placed around the facility. Small, but smart, changes like that are a theme of the water park's renovations.
Since Aqua Racer is located next to the new slides, the park wanted it to look its best this year. The entire slide has been resurfaced/repainted - I'm not sure of the correct terminology for water slides! Either way the slide looks like it did on the day it first opened, which is a wonderful change.
The smaller set of slides known as Jumpin' Jack Splash were able to stay at the park even though their catch pool had to be removed to make room for Snake Pit. Happily the park decided to purchase all new run-out troughs for the slides, so now smaller kids still have a "big" slide to tackle!
And here's the cherry on top - the all new Snake Pit slide tower. The attraction wasn't quite ready to open, but is slated to premier on May 30th. It was great to be able to walk around and see how vastly different the lower part of Wildwater Kingdom is with the addition of Snake Pit. The slides all feature bright colors that really add a ton of life to the area, a welcome change.
The Python Plummet slides are the highest ones, these are body slides that feature trap-door launch capsules at the top. Riders fall down a steep drop, through a giant helix, and then snake their way downward to the run-outs seen in the foreground of this photo.
From the other side you can see the pool that was created for the end of the Constructor and Boa Blasters tube slides. Even though there were several pools that were removed in order for this mega-project to fit, this one is brand new and was created specifically for Snake Pit.
As always, much credit goes to the park's sign shop for making another great entrance sign! The Snake Pit logo welcomes riders to the regular line for all sets of slides. Those who will have a Fast Lane Plus pass will enter through a totally different entrance well to the right of this photo.
The Constrictor slide is the one that's not quite finished yet - if you look close at the larger version of this image you can see that there are still several pieces still to be placed. The Constrictor has several extremely tight helices on its course, one of which still needs to be lifted into place.
Here's a better shot of the Constrictor slide taken from the back of the tower. It is the purple slide you can see leave the tower, heading into one tight helix - but then hitting the unfinished spot. Several pieces can be seen on the ground waiting their turn. I can't imagine more than a couple days will be needed to finish up the slide.
The existing food stand just across the midway from Snake Pit's entrance has been renamed Snake Bites, a fun pun of a name with a great logo!
Island Water Works, as we mentioned in our off season articles, has received work top to bottom, and all new paint as well. What was a very faded water play structure now shines like it also is in its first year once again.
This peaceful look over Wildwater River gives just a taste of how different the lower part of Wildwater Kingdom feels. Like I said earlier, the addition of so much color and the removal of all the awkward elevation changes has done wonders. Guest flow will be much improved, and no longer will people head down a set of stairs and realize they went the wrong way!
One last look out at the water park with several different slide towers in view. Wildwater Kingdom is really looking great - and it seems that there's a chance of even more work in the future! The park is now open daily until September 1st, and Snake Pit opens this Friday!
Before we go - one other change I took notice of over in Dorney Park. The sweetFrog frozen yogurt stand has opened on the Main Midway!
Just two weeks ago the stand was still set up from when it sold custom shirts and accessories, and now it has been enclosed and totally repurposed. The entire front of the building has been changed to allow guests to go indoors to get their frozen yogurt, and then pile candy on top of it (if you're like me, anyway!). That's some quick work!
We'll keep up with the park as the full Summer season rolls around!