I had the chance to visit The Beach Waterpark, an Adventure Landing park. The Beach Waterpark had recently fallen on tough times, eventually closing its doors. Now the park has been brought back to life and is ready to challenge its popular rival, Soak City. A situation like this is rare in the Midwest. It is highly unusual for two major water parks to be just a matter of few miles apart, making this a very special occasion. Soak City is deeply rooted in this area and it seems like it is going to be a David versus Goliath situation for the newly renovated Beach Waterpark. So let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of The Beach Waterpark versus Soak City.
The first advantage I saw was the way that the Beach actually felt like a beach. The way in which the palm trees were swaying on this dreary May day made me think of a warm summer day, with the palms making it feel like a tropical paradise. In contrast, Soak City has flowers and tropical plants, but it just doesn’t feel like it is a tropical paradise. In addition, The Beach actually has something for the whole family, rather than just the youth, and young adults. It reaches out to the parents, grandparents and older family members as well as the kids. Now how does this actually happen? At The Beach and Soak City, they do have sitting areas and wave pools to sit or wade in, but it is the “Lazy Miami” concept that The Beach has that makes them distinctively different. At The Beach, there is a Kokomo Lazy River, with a hint of water features here and there, but it is a lazy river, contrary to the “Action River” at Soak City. Another difference is that The Beach, makes use of the space between attractions in a way that Soak City does not. On the flip side though, The Beach also has a collection of good thrill slides and rides. For example The Beach has a water coaster, Big Kahuna and the Cliff, which is a plunge straight down into the splash lane.
The Beach has also preserved the history and the scenery that those returning to The Beach will recall. It appears that the park is operating under an idea of that “If it works, keep it.” At The Beach, you can see many favorite things from years back. The old penguin for the kids, the Caribbean Captain, and even the scenery of the Beach harkens back to the history of the park which includes trees, trees, and more trees. This is in direct contrast to Soak City. At Soak City, the trees that lined the Crocodile Run now are gone and replaced by concrete walkways. Not only are the trees gone, but not much of the old Australian theme can be found anywhere in Soak City. There is only a bit of themeing left inside the Surfside Supplies, and a few crates and travel gear on the restrooms.
Another part where these two parks diverge is the staff. The Beach has an excellent staff of lifeguards and maintenance workers who work hard at the park. On my visit, no one wasted one second to get what they needed done. That just goes to show you how they have an excellent, friendly staff that will make people feel like their enjoyment and safety are the most important things. In that area, The Beach has one leg up on their rival Soak City.
This is not to say that Soak City does not have a great many advantages. To begin, the Beach has only a few slides, and attractions to offer, while Soak City has plenty of slides and attractions to boast. Soak City also benefits from having built in traffic from the park crowds, usually seeking to beat the heat of the summer. Along the same lines, Soak City is a chain that Cedar Fair can both market and invest in should the need arise using profits from other sectors of their business.
With all of this, there is no definite good or bad future for The Beach standing up against the Soak City. It has the old members returning from their program to bring back past pass members. As well it has some great things to stack up against Soak City, but it also has its downfalls. Many people who visit King's Island don't want to leave a park where they have a free water park to go to with such an assortment of slides. So in my point of view, I don't know what to say. I have seen the rise of the Soak City and the fall of The Beach in the area. Both have unique experiences, but they both make up for what the other doesn't have. If the Beach could re-claim itself as a great family water park, and if it could bring back that crowd, I see it having a good shot at being a big area attraction. In addition, if The Beach could get some form of sponsorship for area teams or places they could bring in better crowds than before. All in all, the future is bright in this rivalry, which will hopefully go on for decades to come given that each has a historical place in this community.