Cowabunga: Henderson site of second water park planned for valley

Local developer Shawn Hassett had no qualms making waves with his latest project – a water park in Henderson.

Construction on the $23 million park with more than 30 attractions began Tuesday near U.S. Highway 95 and Galleria Drive and is expected to open Memorial Day weekend.

“We have rides that would knock your socks off if they weren’t off already,” Hassett said.

The upcoming Cowabunga Bay is divided into three surf- and beach-themed areas including Aloha Shores, a tribute to Hawaiian beaches; Surf City USA, reminiscent of ’50s beach-centered movies; and The Boardwalk, which represents seaside beaches from New Jersey and California.

The attractions include Surf-A-Rama Wave Pool, a 35,000-square-foot wave pool; Cowabunga Splash, a water play structure with six stories of bridges, tunnels, net climb and water toys; and Wild Surf, where four-person rafts are jettisoned from 55 feet and thrown back and forth several times by man-made waves before exiting.

Plans are for the park to be open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and weekends through October.

Wet ‘n Wild Las Vegas, slated for the southwest valley, is also scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, said Nancy Katz, a spokeswoman with Wet ‘n Wild Las Vegas.

“We are moving forward,” Katz said. “We are excited to see the community response for us to bring back Wet ‘n Wild. It has been tremendous.”

Huish said he isn’t worried about the competing water park because other major cities support multiple projects.

“Sure, we would love to be the only water park in town,” Huish said. “We knew the other project was a factor when we started. The market is big enough for two.”

The former Wet ‘n Wild closed in 2004.

After years of waiting for another company to bring a water park to the area, Hassett and business partner Ben Howell joined forces with Huish Entertainment Group to bring Cowabunga Bay to Henderson.

Shane Huish said the project is on a tight deadline to ensure that it opens by Memorial Day weekend.

“We have a construction schedule we have put together with our contractor,” he said. “If followed, we will be able to make it. We will be paying concessions to accelerate things.”

In Salt Lake City, he added, the company began developing a Cowabunga Bay in February 2009 and had it open by June, so he believes construction in Henderson will hit the target date.

After the Henderson Planning Commission approved the land sale in November 2011, Hassett and Howell teamed with investor Huish Entertainment Group, which owns water parks in Washington, California and Utah.

“When the developers approached us and we saw the land, it was a no-brainer. We are building for the locals, not the tourists,” Huish said.

Hassett says the project will create several hundred construction jobs and employ about 500 seasonal employees.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 702-387-5201.

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