Summertime is water time, and Cowabunga Bay in Henderson is preparing to make a big splash with the bikini and swim trunk crowd.
The fiberglass pieces for the slides are ready to be hoisted into place at the 23-acre water park off Galleria Drive, as is most of the 200 tons of steel needed to support the slides.
Concrete has been or is being poured in the lazy river, the wave pool and other pools as the $25 million project heads toward an early summer opening, co-owner and park General Manager Shane Huish said.
The May 24 opening target date will likely be missed by two or three weeks, Huish said, but the project will double work crews and weekends to open as quickly as possible. Nearly 350 workers are on the job under project co-owner R&O Construction.
“Every day we’re not open we lose a significant amount of revenue,” Huish said Wednesday during a tour of the construction area. “If we don’t open now it will be like opening a Christmas tree lot in January.”
Plans now call for Cowabunga Bay to be open through Labor Day, which is Sept. 1, but it might stay open weekends into October if the warm weather continues.
About 400 people out of more than 3,500 applicants are being hired to work at the ticket windows, restaurants and other customer service areas, and the lifeguards are undergoing classes for certification.
A saturation advertising campaign for season passes — starting at $59 — has begun on radio, television, billboards and print, some targeting the Spanish-speaking market.
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.
“Even though it’s a water park, it is considerably a lot less water than a big commercial development,” said Huish, who will oversee daily operations and “will be at the front gate every day.”
Huish said he is most excited about the Surf-a-rama wave pool, which will use nearly 1 million gallons of water. The 32,000-square-foot attraction that has a 1950s drive-in movie theme will generate 4-foot waves.
The park will open with 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. Huish said a perfect storm of financial problems with original investors and delays in getting materials would have delayed opening until August 2013. Huish said opening at the end of the season did not make much financial sense.
Project contractor R&O Construction took an ownership share in the project, and construction restarted in January. Tom Welch, a Utah businessman and Olympic organizer for the Salt Lake City Games, helped restructure the deal. He has a minority share in the project.
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.
Huish said his family has been in the family entertainment business for more than 50 years, starting with his father building miniature golf courses in California.
Cowabunga Bay will be the second water park opened in Clark County within the past year. The new Wet ’n’ Wild opened on 41 acres in the southwest part of the valley in May 2013.
Contact Arnold M. Knightly at email@example.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @BohemianAngst.