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Locals beat the heat at Cape water park; Long weekend, longer lines

By Staff | May 27, 2008

The holiday weekend attracted capacity crowds at Cape Coral’s Sun Splash Family Waterpark as locals looked for a way to cool off and be entertained without going too far from home. Hot weather and sunny skies drove near record crowds to the city-owned park as late May felt more like mid-July.

“Earlier today we had a line all the way out to staff parking,” Tyanna Cardoso, a park guest services employee, said Saturday. “On Memorial Day the past two years we have been so busy. We go right to capacity.”

“Since we got new slides, we have more capacity and we have had more people,” added fellow guest services worker Alison Morris.

While traditional attractions like the Lazy River and the Electric Slide attracted plenty of park-goers, the new five-story high speed slides continued to be the flavor of the season.

Residents waited more than half an hour, with lines stretching more than two stories high, to get on the extreme attraction, which average a five second descent. But the long lines dissuaded few from making the long climb up, so eager were park-goers to take the breathtaking plunge.

“That’s some crazy stuff right there,” said Trafalgar Middle School student Anthony Montero, who screamed as he flew down Thunderbump.

Lifeguards who have been on duty for more than one season agreed that the attraction is bringing many more people into the park, even though it can now handle an additional 300 to 400 people.

“There are more days when the park is maxed out because everyone wants to ride the new slides,” said lifeguard Nick Festa.

The new attraction, which cost the city $1.6 million, was promoted by supporters as a way to get Sun Splash on the map and to compete with major water parks such as Blizzard Beach. While accomplishing that goal remains to be seen, some who hit the park this weekend may have used it as a substitute for other theme parks in the region.

Gateway Charter High student Matt Taleho usually takes two-hour trips to Busch Gardens with his friends during the holidays, but his buddies and he decided to hit Sun Splash this Memorial Day weekend.

“There’s nothing else around here to do,” he said. “We didn’t want to go to the beach, so we came here.”

Cape Coral resident Kevin Timmerman lounged around Sun Splash on Saturday to celebrate his son’s 12th birthday and saw firsthand how many people want to get into the park at its opening each day.

“The lines are extremely long and it takes forever to get in,” he said, pointing out that everyone comes early to scope out the best spots to relax.

While he believes the prices are a little on the high side and the sheer volume of park-goers is a bit much, he said that it beats heading to Tampa or Miami given the price of gas.

“Why drive there when you have Sun Splash here?” chimed in lifeguard Devin Hill. “It’s more local and you get the same entertainment.”