H20ooohh, the indoor waterpark at Split Rock Resort at Lake Harmony in Carbon County celebrated its first anniversary with a cake cutting by its mascot, Splash, the green gecko.
The $19 million, 53,000-square-foot indoor waterpark opened Oct. 30, 2008. Now, a year later, director of special projects Chuck Dickinson, looked back upon the first year of operation and shared his plans for the upcoming year.
Unlike other resort-based waterparks in the Poconos, H20ooohh is open to the community. The original plan estimated 60 percent of those using the waterpark would be guests of the resort.
"It's been a learning experience," said Dickinson. "We saw ourselves as a destination resort with a water park. We've learned that we are a mixed-use facility."
The actual mix of visitors has been the other way around, with 60 percent of the waterpark guests as day users and 40 percent as overnight guests. Dickinson was surprised to the extent that the community embraced the waterpark. That helped to offset the decline in group bookings at the hotel largely due to organizational belt-tightening brought on by the poor economy.
Dickinson said that the waterpark had anticipated a little under $5 million for its first year. Due to the drop-off in group bookings to the resort, they are short of their projections by 15 to 20 percent.
Although group overnight bookings are down, day visitors from Albrightsville, Scranton and the Lehigh Valley have become happy waterpark visitors.
"We started talking to people the day we opened and that hasn't stopped," Dickinson said. "We entertain questions and ask questions. Customers are interested in giving their opinion about the waterpark and the customers are telling us that they had a great time."
During the summer, the waterpark was open seven days a week. For the current offseason, the waterpark is open four days a week Fridays noon-10 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sundays and Mondays noon-8 p.m.
On Friday evenings, the H20ooohh waterpark runs a special for teens and their parents, and for the coming year it will be starting a Monday program for seniors.
Dickinson is pleased by the energy performance of the new equipment. The waterpark has several large motorized pumps. Those that operate the Flow Rider, the three tubes rides, and the two body slides are turned off when the waterpark is closed. The pumps on the filtration system must run whether the waterpark is open or closed.
"We've been trying to determine energy costs," Dickinson explained. "Our electric usage was lower than we were used to. The equipment in the rest of the resort was installed before Energy Star compliant items were available. The new equipment is much more efficient."
Split Rock Resort is the largest resort facility in the Poconos. It began 67 years ago as a hunting and fishing lodge for Lehigh Coal & Navigation managers. It is a 605-room year-round family resort with a 27-hole championship golf course, minigolf course, indoor/outdoor pools, lakefront swimming lagoon, first run movie theater, and restaurants along with the waterpark.
H2Oooohh is kept at 80-84 degrees with low humidity for guest comfort, and features a large skylit roof to flood the space with sunlight year-round.
At the grand opening last year, the 91-year old mother of owner Jack Kalins was the first to descend the Dark Mammoth, the raft ride that spirals down a darkened yellow tube several flights into a pool splashdown.
The Dark Mammoth is one of three tube rides in primary colors of red, blue and yellow that greet a visitor upon approaching the waterpark.
"I have fun every day," Dickinson said. "It brings me great joy coming into a waterpark where I've got happy friendly faces, not only guests but employees."
For more information, log onto www.splitrockresort.com .