Wings & Waves Waterpark Splashes in for a Landing
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Wings & Waves Waterpark is a unique indoor park with a soaring theme: while no longer a part of the Evergreen Aviation Museum, it’s still an exciting place to get soaked – in fact the park rightly touts the fact that it is the only waterpark where riders can barrel down a slide from the belly of the Evergreen 747.
According to general manager Trever Down, “The park changed ownership in the last 18 months. We were purchased by the Falls Event Center, and while we share a campus with the aviation museum, we’re a for-profit while the museum remains non-profit.” Wings & Waves has improvements planned, which Down is not yet ready to share, but for now, visitors can enjoy a bevy of wet attractions.
“We have four large water slides, each different, and each coming out of a Boeing 747 that’s mounted on the roof. It’s the only roof mounted 747 that we know of with slides coming from the fuselage of the plane.”
These big slides include the Sonic Boom, a high-energy slide with dips and turns for all ages; the Tail Spin, a fast-moving slide which goes through figure-eight turns and accelerating bends; the high-velocity body slide Mach One; and the Nose Dive which has a quick drop and sudden bank.
Down describes the varied thrills. “Everyone enjoys that fact that each of the slides is different. The Mach One body slide, you can just cross your arms, lie down, and slide down from the plane. The other three require tubes to slide in, but each offers a very different experience. The Nose Dive opens up into a big ball and you’re actually spun around in it before you continue down the slide, it’s like being a whirlpool,” he attests. “With the Sonic Boom, the ride opens up from the enclosed tube in parts so that you can get a really good, thrilling view of the rest of the facility from high up. And the Tail Spin ride is just fast and fun. Everyone old enough loves to ride it.”
But the younger set isn’t forgotten either, Down notes. “We have smaller slides in our kids’ Aquaplay Center. That area has a water bucket that fills with 300 gallons of water mounted below a helicopter. It looks like a forest fighting helicopter, and the bucket drop appears as if the helicopter is dumping water on a fire,” Down says.
The Aquaplay structure is positioned alongside the park’s 40-foot-tall windows, allowing for wide tree-filled views that fit in with the helicopter and its firefighting bucket. Kids can also play with Smokey the Bear and learn how to prevent forest fires, along with enjoying one of the three slides, or dozens of water guns, spouts, buckets and valves.
A 91,000 gallon wave pool, a relaxing leisure pool, and the whirling Vortex Pool round out the watery fun at the park for all ages, and encourage visitors to linger at the park, even after taking a break from the thrills.
The wave pool features six varying wave motions, depth charges, and bubblers. On either end: two large Apollo rockets. And, there’s also a video screen for guests to enjoy in between the rolling waves. The 20-foot high screen has been known to show everything from video footage of NASA splash-downs to feature films, many with an aerospace or space-exploration theme.
And for sustenance, Down says The Milky Way Café is the place.
“We serve American grill food primarily, such as burgers and pizza. We have a very strong burger menu. And we are working on adding some new fruit flavored drinks and coffee drinks similar to that of the drinks menu from Dutch Brothers of Oregon,” Down enthuses. Dutch Brothers serves coffee drinks and a variety of other combination beverages. At Wings & Waves, Down hopes to have the new drinks menu up this summer. “Some drinks will be Red Bull infused,” he says.
The current menu offers popular treats such as mozzarella sticks, the loaded Galactic Nachos, and for a healthy option, both a chef and Caesar salad.
To market the park, Down says he primarily relies on social media and radio campaigns. Attendance is up this year. “We price by height, so swimmers over 42” are $29, under that height $20; non-swimmers can receive a dry pass for just $10.” The attraction for non-swimmers? “It’s a place where people can just relax, anytime. We are open year ‘round, in the summer 7 days a week, and during the school year, 3 days a week. We’re anticipating a new hotel concept, Steve’s Hotel will be built within the next 24 months, and once that happens we will be open 7 days all year.”
The park is currently considering adding alcoholic beverages for adults to enjoy, and supporting the local school system with after-school swim lessons for under privileged children who would otherwise be unable to afford to learn life-saving water skills.
“We follow a philosophy of cost capitalism, which means that as a for-profit company we’ve chosen to partner with a non-profit as a sustainable partner. We support the museum next door, and have donated $1.2 million since we’ve taken ownership of the park. We want to expand that and support an overall educational theme,” Down asserts.
Other future plans for the park – which Down stresses are not yet set in stone – is to expand with the addition of a miniature golf course. “It would be a great fit on the second level near our café, there’s plenty of space to house 18 holes of golf.” Also on his wish list: “I would love to have one of the flow riders, an artificial wave that you can surf on. Our guests would love that. So those are our big upcoming goals.”
In the meantime: there’s plenty to get wet about.