Indoor Water Park History
The first indoor water park was built in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1985 at the West Edmonton Mall. It is called the World Water park and is over 19,000 m2. It was a success for the mall and remains as one of the largest indoor water parks in the world. The first indoor water park in Europe was built in Blackpool in 1986. It is called the Sandcastle Water Park (Blackpool). The first indoor water park in the United States known as Great Wolf Lodge was built in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin at the Polynesian Hotel. It was built in 1994 in an effort to make the Dells a year-round tourist destination, rather than just a summer one. Since then, the Great Wolf Lodge brand has expanded, with multiple locations in the USA and a single venue in Canada, at Niagara Falls.
Since the opening of the first park, the indoor water park business has become increasingly popular, especially for the Edmonton area in Canada, and in the Wisconsin Dells in the U.S., which proclaims itself as the “Water Park Capital of the World”. The Dells have five Water park resorts that have at least one water park bigger than 5,100 m2. This includes Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari (Wisconsin’s Largest Indoor Water Park), Chula Vista Resort (Lost Rios), Wilderness Territory (Wild West, Klondike Cavern, Wild Waterhole), and the Hotel Rome at Mt. Olympus. Wisconsin has the most indoor water parks in one state. Other states in the U.S., especially in the Midwest, are building more indoor water parks separate or to existing hotels, so they can become a year-round destination. More water parks are also being built in Canada, Europe and Asia. Tropical Islands Resort with an area of 66,000 m² is currently the largest indoor water park in the world.