Relief from 100-degree heat is on its way, assures the owners of the still-under-construction Cowabunga Bay Water Park in Henderson.
The 23-acre, $25 million family attraction will open July 4, kicking off a three-day weekend the owners hope will launch the park into families’ summertime to-do list.
Cowabunga Bay officials will announce the Independence Day opening date at a news conference this morning that is anticipated to include Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen.
“We’re trying to get as much of the park ready for everyone as we can by July 4,” co-owner and General Manager Shane Huish said. “We’ll do as much as we can to make sure we have our approvals, and according to that schedule that is the date we can hit.”
Hafen said the water park fits with the city’s overall vision of parks and recreation-oriented community.
“It’s really exciting to have a development like that opening up and helping our economy out and have a place for families to enjoy,” Hafen said.
The water park off Galleria Drive will open nearly six weeks after the original May 24 opening date announced earlier this year. Huish said in late April they hoped to have the park open by mid-June. The late opening means Cowabunga Bay is scheduled to be open approximately seven weeks through Labor Day, which is Sept. 1. The park will then remain open Friday to Sunday during September, and Saturday and Sunday in October as long as the warm weather allows.
Huish said he has been working with current season pass holders to provide them a pro-rated discount, or give a full refund if requested. The park first offered a 10 percent refund in May but will announce a 30 percent refund today. The park will offer other enticements such as in-park spending discounts or extra tickets to current pass holders to bring a pair of friends.
“We’ve tried to keep them as happy as we can,” Huish said. “We have never denied anyone a refund. The minute they ask for a refund, a check is sent out. We’re trying to create something that will be here for years, not gyp people out of their money. I want to be fair in every way I can.”
The park has stayed in contact with many of the 400 hired employees, only a few of which have left for other jobs during the delay.
Huish said a perfect storm of issues pushed back the opening: high winds stopping the erection of water slides, park equipment taking longer to arrive from Turkey than anticipated and the lack of certified construction workers needed to build the water slides. The park had to compete for specialized labor with other water park projects, including the Atlantis Water Park, which opened Memorial Day outside Louisville, Ky.
“These are very specialized pieces of equipment, and you just can’t call a welding company and have them come out,” Huish said. “Everyone is working as hard as they can, as diligently as they can to provide a clean, safe and memorable park experience.”
The water park will operate on 12 acres of the site, using 1.5 million gallons of heated water recycled through the park, the majority going to the lazy river and the wave pool. Huish said the lazy river will be the largest in Nevada, and the wave pool will be second in size only to Mandalay Bay. The park will have eight water slides, three pools, a kids cove area and cabanas for rental with their own pool area. It will have three eateries, Cowabunga Chill, Bullwinkle’s Boardwalk Grille and Rocky’s Beachside Cafe. The Huish family owns the copyrights to the famous 1960s cartoon characters.
Ground was broken on Cowabunga Bay in December 2012 with plans of a Memorial Day 2013 opening. However, original partners dropped out because of financial issues, and project contractor R&O Construction took an ownership share in the project, and construction restarted in January. Tom Welch, a Utah businessman and Olympics organizer for the Salt Lake City Games, helped restructure the deal. He has a minority share in the project.
Huish said, looking back, he wished construction could have restarted at Thanksgiving, but most of the project had to get relicensed because of the ownership change.
The Huish family owns the Cowabunga Bay Water Park in Draper, Utah, south of Salt Lake City, which opened in 2009. It also owns family entertainment centers in Portland, Ore., and two in the Seattle area.
Cowabunga Bay will be the second water park opened in Clark County within the past 14 months. Wet ’n’ Wild opened on 41 acres in the southwest part of the valley in May 2013 and is well into its second season.
“No one is more sorry it is not open than me,” said Huish, noting it’s a family business that’s losing money every day it is not open. “We believe everyone who comes to the park will be happy when they do.”
Contact Arnold M. Knighty at email@example.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.