Sun Splash ready to celebrate 20 years
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the opening of Sun Splash, the family water park that was opened to give kids of all ages a place to stay cool besides their backyard pools.
Today, the city-owned park on Santa Barbara Boulevard will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the public in an event that will feature birthday cake, a festive atmosphere and prizes and gifts.
There will be 20 prize drawings for items ranging from tickets aboard the Key West Express to free golf, tickets to Regal Cinema and one-day cruises on the Fort Myers Princess. Also, the first 500 guests June 30 will receive a Sun Splash coozie.
Regular admission fees apply.
That’s a far cry from its humble beginnings in 1992, according to Sandra Greiner, manager at Sun Splash, who lived in the shadows on the park when it opened.
“I saw the park evolve. It was small when it opened, with two slides looking outside my window,” Greiner said. “The park was well-received, and we kept adding on because of the positive feedback.”
Sun Splash Family Waterpark has grown from an alternative to the pool to the region’s largest waterpark with 14 acres of slides, pools and food.
Among the more extreme attractions built in recent years are the X-celerator, Terror Tube and Thunder Bump. The park also rebuilt its pavilion and had prefabricated bathrooms flown in last year, which were paid for through grants, Greiner said.
Today, the park attracts more than 140,000 visitors per year, with many of them coming from outside the city, which pumps more money into the local economy.
“We get a lot of business from the north – Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Englewood. The focus was to bring in outside people,” Greiner said, who has managed the park for three years and brings a marketing element to her job. “We try to tap into everything we can. Not just Cape Coral.”
Greiner would like to see more expansion, although she said that’s not her call.
“That’s the city council’s call. I would like to get an interactive area and another slide,” Greiner said. “It’s time we put more money in to keep it growing and get more people in and create added value.”
The fact this is a municipal park makes Sun Splash’s success all the more remarkable.
“If you look at us, most municipal parks haven’t succeeded. We continue to grow, flourish and change,” Greiner said. “This gives us something we can be proud of.”
The park is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Aug. 7. For more information call 574-0558.