Cowabunga Bay looks forward to first full-season opening

As valley residents brace themselves for the summer, Cowabunga Bay Water Park offers locals a way to beat the heat.

The water park, 900 Galleria Drive, was scheduled to kick off its weekday hours and celebrate its two newest attractions May 23.

Beach Blanket Banzai, the state’s longest slide, and Wild Surf, the largest man-made wave slide, were to make their debut this season.

“Our goal is to make sure guests leave with a smile on their faces,” said Shane Huish, owner and general manager. “Our focus is on customer service, and I think that starts with how we treat our employees. We have a great time working here, and in return, our guests have a great time.”

The 12-acre park is home to more than 20 slides and attractions, including the Cowabunga Kids Cove and SharkCade. Its decor creates a retro surf atmosphere using 1950s California beach and New Jersey boardwalk themes.

“I think the theme is pretty cool, and it makes for a fun atmosphere,” said Henderson resident Corey Womble. “I can’t wait for the newest slides to open this year so I can get more value for my season ticket.”

Henderson resident Lindsey Douglas said she enjoyed her experience last year and plans to return this season.

“I think the wave pool is super fun, and it’s nice that the little kids can’t go down to the very end,” she said. “It’s nice they have table and chairs and let you bring food in, unlike Wet‘n’Wild.”

Although rides such as the Surf-A-Rama Wave Pool use about 1 million gallons of water, Huish said the park conserves water by recycling it.

“We only lose water from evaporation, so we’re actually using less water than the nearby housing developments and apartment complexes,” he said. “We also use desert landscaping on a drip system to conserve as much as we can.”

Despite a six-week delay in the grand opening, Cowabunga Bay launched its first season last July after 2 1/2 years of construction; however, Huish considers last summer a “preview season,” as the park was open only about 60 days.

“There were a lot of unknowns last year,” he said. “I honestly didn’t know when we were going to open until about the week before. We finished construction at 2 a.m. July 3 and opened to the public at 11 a.m. July 4.”

Huish’s family owns the Cowabunga Bay Water Park in Draper, Utah, which opened in 2009. He served as the general manager in Draper for six years before transferring to Henderson.

“As the owner and general manager, the park is designed around me,” Huish said. “I’m not trying to sound selfish. I just can’t stand to wait in long lines, eat terrible food or hang out in a dirty place. I’m sure my customers would agree, so I try to make the park some place I would be happy to bring my family to enjoy.”

Huish said he takes customer feedback seriously and made changes this season to accommodate popular requests, such as adding more shade, creating season pass add-on packages and extending park hours.

“We’re constantly looking at the park and seeing where we can improve or expand,” he said. “We can’t do it all at once because we need time to grow, but I’m really excited about the next five years.

“Everyone comes in here talking about how great the old (Wet’n’Wild) was on the Strip, so we’re hoping to become the new memory for generations to come.”

General admission costs $36.99 for adults and $27.99 for children shorter than 48 inches. Military and senior discounts are available. Season passes start at $89.99.

Cowabunga Bay is typically open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Check with the park for current operating times.

For more information, visit cowabungabay.com/lasvegas or call 702-850-9000.

To reach Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher, email cbelcher@viewnews.com or call 702-383-0403. Find her on twitter: @caitlynbelcher.

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