Cullman plans a $10 million expansion of its water park that will include raft rides, a body slide and a wave pool, but an official with Decatur's Point Mallard Aquatic Park downplayed the potential for competition between the facilities.
The Cullman Recreation Department's planned 3-acre expansion of its water attraction will form a 4-acre WildWater park, which will open in spring of 2022, according to a news release.
“After COVID, everyone seems to be doing staycations now and we saw a very busy summer this summer, so we made the decision that it’s time to go ahead and make the leap and add the space for our community and surrounding communities to enjoy,” said Kyle Clark, Cullman Parks and Recreation’s director of operations.
The city hired Proslide Technologies to design slides that will be unique to WildWater. The expansion will include two raft rides with 43-foot drops, a mat-racer ride, a high-speed body slide, and a 22,000-square-foot wave pool. The city will use bond money to pay for the expansion.
“Our department has spent months choosing the best vendor and developing the most innovative design for WildWater, which we believe will bring visitors from around the Southeast to Cullman,” Rusty Turner, Cullman Park Board chairman, said in the news release.
Both Cullman Parks and Recreation and a Point Mallard representative said that although the parks will be only 36 miles apart, they don't envision them as competitors as they both seek to serve their respective communities.
“Cullman Parks and Recreation has always been a great partner," said Jason Lake, Decatur Parks & Recreation director. "We’re excited for them to be able to offer their community another great recreational opportunity."
Clark said that he was not aware of the current attractions at Point Mallard and that they did not take other parks into consideration when designing their expansion.
However, an industry analyst said the parks' proximity raises the potential for the parks to compete for guests.
“Typical visitors to water parks are within an hour drive ... but there is some crossover there in the 45-minute drive between them where you’ll have some customers who are choosing between one or the other, and that could have an effect on the attendance levels at Point Mallard,” said David Sangree, president of Hotel and Leisure Advisors, a hospitality consulting firm.
On the other hand, hot temperatures and high demand for summertime activities may contribute to mutual success for WildWater and Point Mallard.
“In the summertime, when it’s super-hot, there is certainly a possibility that both properties could make it, but it does mean that if Point Mallard does not continue to reinvest or it has not reinvested in recent years, it could lose more than it should,” Sangree said.