As the company gears up for the biggest year in its history, Park World catches up with WhiteWater president Geoff Chutter.
How was WhiteWater born?
Technically our 30th birthday was December 15, that’s the same day that in 1980 we closed the deal on purchasing some property in British Columbia to build our own waterpark. My background was with KPMG for six years prior to that but after seeing the first waterslide park in Canada I naively thought, “Wouldn’t that be a good idea?” So we built one but had to come up with our own moulds and slides. White Water opened in ’81 and that summer several people came by and said, “I would like you to do that in my hometown.” Because we had the engineering experience and the moulds we did four that year and, as they say in French, the rest of history.
What have been some of your biggest achievements?
Being the designer and supplier to Disney remains very special to us and that culminated this January with the launch of the Disney Dream cruise ship, where we outfitted the entire top deck including the AquaDuck, a spectacular ride that is featured in every one of their ads.
Doing all the conceptual design of the largest waterpark in the world, Caribbean Bay owned by Samsung in Korea, was a highlight. That is ranked as one of the most poplar waterparks in the world by attendance, the two Orlando parks being first and second with about 2.2 million. In third place is Chimelong Water Park in China with 1.8 million guests, which is remarkable given that they are only open five months of the year, whereas the Disney parks open all year round. Again we did all the conceptual planning and masterplanning as well as the supply.
To have opened the first Legoland Water Park this summer in California was important to us and the two Atlantis projects, in the Bahamas and the Palm in Dubai, are significant achievements. We have done all 13 of the Carnival cruise ships, and in Europe doing the last five Center Parcs would rank up there too.
Locally we have done the largest waterpark in Canada, in Ottawa, but have also been recognised for an export award and the 50 best-managed companies award, which was important on a business level.
What sets WhiteWater apart from other waterpark suppliers?
I think it’s that we are a waterpark company, not just a suppler of one line, whereas some of the others are suppliers of wave equipment, interactive equipment, waterslides etc. You can look at some parks around the world and say that was designed by such and such a supplier because of the equipment in there. We don’t suffer from that.
We look at the overall park and our focus on getting the most successful, profitable waterpark for the end user. The largest wave pool in the world, Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur, was by Whitewater. We have probably got around 85% of the interactive market with AquaPlay, as well as the largest selection of waterslides. And of course we provide design and masterplanning too.
Most of the suppliers in the industry subcontract, but our fibreglass plant is a 90,000 sq ft plant in British Columbia, our interactive plant is a 30,000 sq ft plant attached to our head office in Vancouver, and we’ve got another plant for the PrimePlay dry product line.
What will be some of your highlights for the coming year?
Our largest year in terms of signing bottom line contracts was 2010, which effectively means delivery in 2011. The Asian market has been very strong for us and we are doing large projects in Thailand, in Korea and three large projects in China, including one outside Shanghai, one right in the centre of Shenzhen and the Bali Waterpark in the north east of China, which is massive. We are also doing large projects in India, Iran and Africa.
Why will Bali Waterpark be “The World’s Greatest”?
The magnitude of the order. We signed two recently that we classify as the largest orders ever in the industry, one would be Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, where WhiteWater is doing nine out of the 10 complexes and we are also very involved in the masterplanning together with Atkins out of the UK. That one for us is an over $14 million contract.
Bali is a little less, around $12 million, but given that construction costs are extremely high in the Middle East and less so in China, at Bali they will actually get more bang for their buck. It will be the largest water surface in the world in terms of waterpark, with a sizeable indoor part and a significant outdoor part. There’s TV show in the United States called The World’s Greatest and Bali Waterpark was just recognised as the world’s greatest waterpark, and us as the world’s greatest waterpark supplier actually.
The park is located just outside Shenyang and will have a Bali theme. It’s going to be part of a huge new resort with hotels, golf courses and amusement parks in a beautiful, lush valley landscape. They will be drawing from a local area of about 20 million people, and are looking to be a bit of a destination resort as well; and the waterpark will be one of the centrepieces.
We believe you have several “world-firsts” planned?
This last year we launched seven new rides, which is a record for us. Many of these will be featured at Bali Waterpark, including the largest interactive waterplay structure that’s ever been done; that’s going be pretty exciting. We have a double interlocking AquaLoop, that will be huge, also the first family Abyss/Family Boomerango combination. One of the other rides, which will be in the indoor section of the waterpark is a flume through a flume. We have a 20ft diameter flume, which you oscillate back and forth on, and then right through the centre of that will be suspended a double innertube ride.
And then of course we have the AquaDuck for Disney. It has our Master Blaster integrated into it, but that sensation of being on a cruise ship and being able to go over the side in a 100% clear acrylic tube has certainly never been done before.
With more than 4,000 projects under its belt, no one has designed and built as many waterparks as WhiteWater. Now celebrating 30 years in business, this leading Canadian supplier acts as a full service provider to waterpark projects around the world, handling everything from design and masterplanning to slides, wave pools, FlowRiders and other water-based attractions.
Pictured below: The massive WhiteWater slide manufacturing facility in British Columbia