Hawaiian Waters park makes a big splash in Oahu

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KAPOLEI -- Oahu's newest attraction proved popular with local families this summer. The $14 million Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park opened on Memorial Day weekend, in time for the summer's school break.

A family slide at Hawaiian Waters, Oahu's new 25-acre water-theme amusement park. Within two weeks of opening, on one Sunday the 25-acre water-theme amusement park had an attendance of 4,700, close to the 5,000 maximum capacity.

Residents flocked here despite an admission fee of $29.99 for adults (children $19.99), which is hefty compared with prices for competing attractions and activities, not to mention all the free beaches available on the island.

The more adventurous rode the Cliffhanger, which is composed of two 65-foot free-fall slides. Individual rides have such names as the Waianae Coaster, comprising four double-tube slides in which two can ride down cliffs together from a height of more than four stories, and the Big Kahuna, composed of two massive water slides where three can ride together.

Hurricane Bay is a pool as big as a football field with waves of up to four feet for body surfing and tube riding.

To relax, visitors can float down a 1,000-foot "river" in a tube. For families, the 20,000-square-foot, multilevel Waterworld has a range of slides; for toddlers, there is Keiki Love, with plenty of water games.

Besides the water activity areas for adults, teens and children, the park has volleyball, a stage area for concerts and picnic areas. It also features a restaurant with buffet meals, a fast-food outlet, a gift shop, showers and lockers.

Although the park made quite a splash with locals this summer, it will have to depend more on vacationers now that kids are back in school.

"Everything went well with the opening, and by July 1 we were completed and ready for tourists," said Dave Busch, president of Sacramento, Calif.-based Horizon Amusement Group, the park's developer and operator.

By then the restaurant had opened and finishing touches, including landscaping, were completed.

Busch expects to attract 400,000 visitors in the first year, with tourists accounting for 40% of attendance and residents accounting for 60%. He is also counting on group business, including mainland and international corporate and incentives business as well as local functions.

In June, its first full month, park attendance reached almost 70,000. By mid-August, 203,000 had visited the park.

The park, 20 minutes west of Honolulu Airport off the H1 freeway, is owned by Waters of Kapolei LLC, a partnership of individuals who have been involved in other water theme-park projects.

With the opening, Oahu joined such cities as Sacramento and Concord, Calif.; Phoenix, and Kansas City, Mo., in boasting a water park. In fact, there are more than 30 of them on the mainland, but Oahu's is in the top 10 in size, according to Busch.

And being the newest, the park's construction took advantage of the latest in water-park design and technology, said Busch, who also doubles as the park's general manager. Busch noted that fewer than five parks have an attraction to rival the Big Kahuna water slide.

The Cliffhanger has less vibration and is more comfortable to ride than earlier versions built elsewhere, he said. Busch should know. His company, formed in 1986, built and operated six of the mainland water parks and other amusement parks before selling them two years ago.

Hawaiian Waters was built on three levels into the side of a cliff, with the designs of the rides taking advantage of the terrain, Busch said. The mainland parks he is familiar with are on flat land, he said.

In March, 5,000 people applied for the park's 350 jobs. Of the positions, 175 are lifeguards, or "ride attendants," as they are called.

Busch said safety is paramount; ride attendants are trained above American Red Cross standards, and training includes CPR. Rules prohibit food, drinks and glass containers from being brought into the park; bags can be checked at the gate. For major rides, participants must be at least 48 inches tall.

The park is located on the dry Leeward Coast, overlooking the Kapolei business district. Kapolei is Oahu's "second city," planned by the state to disperse population growth from crowded Honolulu.

Attraction offers packages for individuals, groups

KAPOLEI -- Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park offers packages for visitors that include transportation from Waikiki.

It can also develop theme parties for corporate, incentive and other exclusive groups.

The admission price of $29.99 (children $19.99) includes unlimited use of the rides and activities as well as equipment, such as tubes, floats and life jackets. Parking is free; lockers can be rented for a nominal fee.

Two of the packages, which include roundtrip transfers from Waikiki hotels, are:

  • The standard package, which also includes admission, instruction and equipment, for $44.99 (children ages 4 to 11, $28.99).
  • The deluxe package, with standard package inclusions plus a barbecue buffet lunch and a gift on arrival, for $60 (children $36).
  • Hotel pickups are made between 9:15 a.m. and 10 a.m., returning to Waikiki between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

    According to Jerry Pupillo, director of sales, the park had more than 50,000 people take part in the packages, including school, civic and community groups.

    Almost all are local groups, but some bookings have come from the mainland and abroad. The largest booking was a Hawaiian Airlines group of 5,000 (taking over the whole park) for employees to celebrate the carrier's 70th anniversary.

    The attraction will provide a private area for groups with a minimum of 50 people. Group areas include seven pavilions with picnic tables; banquets for up to 2,500 (outdoors) and 1,500 (covered) can be handled.

    Games, customized for theme parties, include limbo, Hula-Hoop, volleyball, a water-balloon-tossing contest and an executive dunk tank.

    The park, on Farrington Highway, is open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and evenings for exclusive groups. To get to the park, take the Campbell Industrial Park exit on H1.

    Hawaiian Waters
    Phone: (808) 674-9283
    Fax: (808) 674-9444
    Web: www.hawaiianwaters.com

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