Sunday, July 27, 2014

Plenty of room in the pool for water parks, officials say

October 01. 2013 11:49PM

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POCONO MANOR — The Pocono Mountains is becoming a water park haven, but it has a long way to go to match Wisconsin Dells, Wis. and its 18 such attractions.

Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau Executive Director Carl Wilgus said he believes there’s room for all of the venues in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and he is excited about another major development for the region.

Once complete, Kalahari, which broke ground on its third water park/resort that’s slated to open in Monroe County in the early summer of 2015, will join other area indoor water parks including those at Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun and H20ooohh! at Split Rock Resort in Kidder Township. Camelbeach in Tannersville and the water park on Montage Mountain in Moosic offer outdoor water parks.

So too will Blue Mountain Ski Area and Resort in Palmerton, which is building a $30 million Summit Splash water park with a 2015 opening date, too. There are also discussions about at least one more indoor water park on the drawing board for the Tannersville area.

“There’s plenty of room for everybody,” he added with a smile.

Wilgus said the region was once known as a honeymoon destination.

“After the honeymoon phase, what comes next?” Wilgus said. “The family and that’s what these resorts attract.”

He said he believes that the water parks can coexist and thrive thanks to the large population within a day’s drive from the Poconos. It’s something that was also noted by the resort’s founder and CEO Todd Nelson.

“We never become the destination, we become part of an existing destination,” Nelson said. “I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be than right here right now.”

He said locating a water park requires certain demographics already in place and the Poconos meets them.

“We need a minimum of 20 million within a four-hour drive, the Poconos has roughly 44 million people,” Nelson said. And having the other water parks already here shows the market is a good one.

Great Wolf Lodge, it should be noted, also has resorts in Kalahari’s two other markets in Sandusky, Ohio, and Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Gov. Tom Corbett said the addition of Kalahari Resort continues to build on the Pocono Mountains’ legacy as it shifts from a honeymoon attraction to a four-seasons, family-friendly tourism destination.

“Kalahari’s selection of the Poconos for its first East Coast location is a testament to the area’s draw as one of the premiere vacation destinations in the country,” Corbett said. “We are thrilled to have Kalahari Resorts become the latest addition to Pennsylvania’s already impressive list of tourism attractions.”

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