In the summer of 2020, Soaky Mountain Waterpark opened its doors in Sevierville, Tennessee, and in doing so, they opened a brand new FlowRider® surf simulator to the public to help drive ticket sales, attract teens, and create an entertainment hub. As they gear up for their third season, we had the chance to catch up with David Andrews, the general manager of Soaky Mountain, to learn more about how they’ve had success the past two seasons, and why adding a FlowRider to their park was so important to them.
Andrews is no stranger to FlowRider. He worked at the Wet n’ Wild Waterpark in Palm Springs and noticed that patrons there absolutely loved the surf simulator. When he moved to work at SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland, he pushed to add a FlowRider, and he noticed that the success in Palm Springs was not a fluke.
“The FlowRider is very popular, guests love it, and it’s really a staple these days to have a FlowRider in a waterpark,” says Andrews.
Naturally, when Andrews was part of the planning for Soaky Mountain, adding a FlowRider was a no-brainer. This has proven to be the right choice for Soaky Mountain Waterpark. “The FlowRider is very popular, guests love it, and it’s really a staple these days to have a FlowRider in a waterpark,” says Andrews.
How Soaky Mountain Deals with Logistical Questions
When considering adding a surf simulator to their waterpark, some parks struggle with the unique logistical considerations that come with this attraction, such as waivers, line management, and location. Soaky Mountain has their system dialed in:
1. Enforcing Waivers
As with any active board sport, flowboarding comes with inherent risks, and waivers are important to communicate these risks to guests. But in the chaos of a busy waterpark at the height of its season, how do you ensure every rider has signed their waiver?
Soaky Mountain’s genius answer is wristbands. A kiosk with waivers and instructions is located in front of the FlowRider, so anyone who wants to ride can ask questions, sign their waiver, and get their wristband showing they’re ready to ride.
2. Managing Riders
When installing a surf simulator, waterparks must be conscious about how they program their wave. Can anyone in the waterpark take a turn, or is this an exclusive add-on guests need to purchase? Will you allow stand-up riding or only bodyboarding? Is the wave booked in sessions, or will you use one long line?
We’ve seen waterparks have success in each of these cases, and it really comes down to the distinct personality of each waterpark. Soaky Mountain has found success by including FlowRider access in the price of admission, only allowing bodyboarding during regular park hours, and using one large line instead of sessions. This works particularly well for them because their wave is a FlowRider Double, so on busy days, they can split the wave in half to accommodate double the riders!
3. Placing the Wave
Since flowboarding is a spectator sport, wave placement is everything when it comes to maximizing revenue potential. With his years of waterpark and FlowRider experience, Andrews really understood how FlowRider works well with food and beverage. Soaky Mountain positioned their FlowRider right in front of their bar, and Andrews notes, “The FlowRider is a great centerpiece to that section of the park.”
Last summer, Soaky Mountain began to lean into the sport-side of the FlowRider by programming their wave and had great success. Toward the end of the season, they added private stand-up flowboarding sessions after hours. Patrons could purchase an hourly ticket, and they accommodated 10 riders at a time. This successfully created an additional revenue stream for the waterpark, and Andrews mentioned that they plan on expanding the program this year to increase their revenue even more.
Soaky Mountain Waterpark has found their FlowRider surf simulator to be a staple attraction at their waterpark, and their smart logistical planning and wave programming has surely added to their success. Here at FlowRider, we’re certainly impressed with the way they’ve made their wave so integral to their business. To learn more about Soaky Mountain or to buy tickets and see the success for yourself, visit soakymountainwaterpark.com
If you’re interested in learning more about how a FlowRider surf simulator can amp up your waterpark’s success, reach out to us at www.flowrider.com/contact-us to connect with one of our awesome team members.