We had a pretty typical summer in Saskatchewan this year amid atypical times.
We got just enough heat in July to start complaining about it and a few outdoor pools opened despite the pandemic.
When I was a kid, waterslides were the staple of a good time for summer fun.
Those seem reserved for hotels now as outdoor waterslide parks seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur, but why?
You can’t beat nature
To be totally fair, we do live in Saskatchewan.
This means we get a very limited warm weather that would draw the crowds necessary to sustain a waterpark.
I don’t recall it, but Saskatoon’s Penguin Park opened in 1986 during the waterslide craze years.
Perhaps the name ironically spelled its demise; it was eventually deemed not viable due to our short summer season.
Records are skinny on the park, but City Archives know that it was eventually dismantled and shipped to a park in Kansas around 1993.
Take that, winter!
Fortunately enough, Saskatoon isn’t too far away from the average 31 degrees of the year-round waterpark at West Ed Mall.
Also developed in 1986, the park still holds the record for largest indoor wave pool, holding 12.5 trillion litres of water.
The attraction is located in the westerly end of the mall near the indoor lagoon which used to house the submarine ride.
Interestingly, 2020 marked a milestone for the West Ed Waterpark.
March of this year is the first time the entire waterpark has temporarily closed down since it opened.
Over the years certain rides within the park have closed to allow for redeveloped features but never has the waterpark had to close altogether.
At full capacity, the park can hold up to 5,000 people.
For touting itself as having the most extreme waterslide in Canada (the Cyclone!), the park has a pretty clean track record with no reported deaths on the slides or in the wave pool.
A woman did rip off her finger on a slide, though, as recently as 2018.
The legend of the world’s most dangerous amusement park
Most of the parks, the Battlefords’ hillside attraction for example, were fibreglass slides surrounded by concrete embankments.
We’ve all experienced some form of minor injury from a waterslide at some time in our youth;or nearly drowning from being shot out into a whirlpool.
HBO Max (via Crave) is currently airing a documentary on a notorious waterpark which was located in Vernon, New Jersey called Action Park.
It was a lawless wonderland of ill-engineered attractions and loosely enforced rules by undertrained teenage supervisors.
Sounds amazing, right?!
I won’t spoil it for you, but those that experienced it in person wear their Action Park scars as a badge of honour for surviving it.
To be fair, the most heinous of injuries coming out of Action Park have nothing to do with their waterslides specifically. But the segment regarding their cannonball loop is horrifyingly awesome.
Worth a drive
The last great bastion of outdoor waterslides in Saskatchewan are the Kenosee Superslides.
Their license was revoked mid-August by the health authority in regard to safety concerns.
The park was able to address minor repairs through sanding and fitting patches within a few hours to get their license reinstated in time to finish off the season.
Four slides at the park remain closed while the owners bring in fibreglass specialists to assess them.
Let’s hope they don’t meet the same fate as waterslides before them, where fun came first and safety later.
Posted by Kelly Macsymic