Monday, March 7, 2022

Are Splash Pads Still Relevant: Post-Pandemic Improvements?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the splash park industry. As a result, many water parks closed their doors to prevent the spread of the virus, and many more recreational parks face new restrictions from local governments. On top of that, recreation budgets have been demolished and allocated to other county expenses.

So, the question is: are splash pads still relevant? In this blog post, we will look at the post-pandemic landscape of the splash pad industry and see what they are doing to remain relevant in the market.

The Importance of Recreational Parks

Recreational parks, such as splash pads, are essential for the development of children. They provide a fun place for kids to play and socialize with friends; socialization is crucial during the summer months. In addition, recreational parks help develop a child’s physical abilities.

Finally, playgrounds, splash pads, and other play areas help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst children. For instance, in a Voice of Play survey by the IPEMA, more than 90% of parents agreed that consistent playtime increased the likelihood of their children being tolerant and spontaneously playing with other children regardless of race, disability, or social standing.

Increased Safety Protocols to Continue At Parks

It's no surprise that parents trust recreational parks of all kinds as safe zones for their families. So, when many parks and recreation agencies closed their parks, many families lost these areas, which are paramount for outdoor physical activity and relief from pandemic concerns. Yet, despite their importance and the relaxing of restrictions in 2021, park access remained limited, even causing park authorities to turn away visitors because of social distancing requirements and capacity issues.

Be that as it may, playgrounds, splash parks, and water parks already have high inspection and safety ratings out of any public spaces. Yet, new protocols for more thorough inspections and disinfection practices have set a new standard. Officials agree that this trend is unlikely to change, but it is necessary and will benefit children and their families for the long term.

Suffice to say; play activities are more critical now than ever since the pandemic has fundamentally changed the lives of current and future generations.

Simple Solutions That Transform Splash Pads And Other Facilities

Unfortunately, the pandemic forced many businesses like commercial pools and splash pads to close due to safety concerns. However, not all facilities took this as a sign to close their business permanently. Instead, some used this as an opportunity to renovate, maintain, and re-design their equipment; the idea is to bring patrons back with something new and exciting once restrictions allow them to reopen.

Most businesses that take this route look for improvements that fit their current maintenance budget. Usually, aquatic consultants are the correct type of contractors to plan this job. However, splash pads aim to get the most "wow" factor out of the least amount of financial commitment.

While there are potentially hundreds of improvements that businesses can make, here are some examples that most splash pads could choose.

     Bringing in small-scale water park facilities

     Adding on multi-level play structures that can cater to toddlers and tweens

     Adding small climbing walls near unused deeper pool sections

     Adding small slides that have various visual themes near shallow areas like kiddie pools

These renovations require new equipment installations and can utilize current pumps, plumbing lines, feeding lines, and launching points. Usually, contractors will determine what existing equipment is available at these businesses and then reverse-engineer more attractive and up-to-date options to attract customers.

The goal here is to maximize each facility's hidden potential to increase interaction amongst patrons. Considering that most of these improvements require low-flow, it's easy to invest in these types of projects. The most successful renovations utilize the unused portions of these businesses without redesigning the entire facility.

It's essential to tailor upgrades and improvements to engage the entire family while remaining faithful to safety zones, ordinances, and compliance. It's best to target 4-7-year-olds and 8-12-year-olds; while the idea is to provide thrills for everyone, each zone must address the target audience's needs.

For instance, toddlers should have a play area near splash pads with calm but engaging water features that keep them safely away from slides, water cannons, or giant water dumping areas.

Developmental Stages Are Key

While water parks and splash pads have a lot to consider when renovating their facilities, they need to ensure that their additions address children of all physical, developmental, and cognitive limitations. Addressing these concerns would mean that arranging crucial play features is essential for those with developmental and mental limits. For example, areas with splash pads are excellent zones for various sensory experiences that build on one another.

When done correctly, the order allows participants to try a more robust feature but enable them to drop back to a more comfortable zone with less forceful water features. An excellent example of this is a Mushroom Maze. Children can play outside the mushroom of water or sit under it where the sprays create a pleasant white noise that allows them to retreat to their world. Additions like the Mushroom Maze can provide the "wow factor" while still attending to children of all developmental and cognitive needs.


The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the global lifestyle upside down. Often, parents are unsure where and when their children can enjoy the many benefits of playing. However, some efforts and organizations take recreational activities seriously and provide helpful resources. For example, Twin Cities Kids Club understands the importance of play for children in recreational parks as a whole.

This organization provides free or low-cost access to recreation facilities for kids and families in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. During COVID-19, Twin Cities Kids Club pivoted its efforts to provide resources and support to struggling families. They have also continued to advocate for recreational parks by providing this information, even amid a pandemic.

If you or someone you know is searching for a splash pad this summer, check out the list this organization has compiled. With this information, parents can determine which splash places closest to them are open and ready for families and their children to interact!


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