Revitalizing Atlantic City’s Tourism: Island Waterpark at Showboat

The Atlantic City Boardwalk needs no introduction in the USA. Legendary as it is, it was in need of a revitalization. This is a case study of how Showboat Hotel is helping to diversify the city’s tourism offerings, beyond gaming to include family-friendly entertainment—through a stunning indoor water park.

The Vision for a Water Park Filled with “Wow” Moments

As plans for the new water park started to progress, the owner, Tower Investments, assembled a team of local architect consultants and its designer, Martin Aquatic. The general vision was to create a park filled with iconic attractions and “wow” moments. It should be fun for both children and adults. It should celebrate the spirit of Atlantic City. And it should break records.

Thus, the concept for Island Waterpark was born.

Outside view of an indoor water park from above with protruding water slides

The length of the building is 520 feet, with 30 bays. There are two retractable roof cupolas, at 77 and 73 feet. The entire building includes 25 motorized pivot windows around the perimeter for airflow. When the roof is open, the opening is 80 feet wide and 410 feet long.

With 100,000 square feet of indoor space, this $100 million investment is the world’s largest indoor beachfront water park—and the largest indoor water park in North America under a single retractable roof. The interior recreates the shops, amusements, and vibes of the famous boardwalk. Together with aquatic thrills and plenty of space to relax and socialize, Island Waterpark is a destination with true multi-generational appeal. It has kid-friendly attractions and at the same time, allows adults to enjoy unique leisure activities in Atlantic City that are different from the offerings of a casino.

To capture a wide audience, Tower Investments selected WhiteWater to provide a superb mix of aquatic attractions, with 11 water slides, two aquatic play structures, and a FlowRider®.

The Building and Space

Island Waterpark is designed to be a happy year-round destination with a sleek, clean look and feel. The entire building is aluminum, which is the perfect solution for the corrosive ocean environment outdoor as well as the corrosive aquatic environment indoor. Its glass walls and roof allow plenty of natural light in, which has a profound impact on mood. The OpenAire roof not only shelters from the cold and inclement weather, it can be retracted to draw in fresh air for organic ventilation and let the guests feel like they are not missing out on a nice summer’s day. Not only that, the opening on an entire side of the building allows for an unobstructed view of the ocean from the adult pool.

Overview of indoor water park at night

An 80-foot wide and 24-foot-tall high door opens to the infinity pool and bar on the inside and affords the guests there a view of the ocean and boardwalk.

Speaking of the “Bliss Pool,” the idea of a separate 21+ area was an integral part of the park concept from the very beginning. It is where guests can groove to DJ music, sip cocktails at the swim-up bar, lounge in VIP cabanas, and even hop on Pelotons. When the sun goes down, this area can be transformed into a nightlife venue like no other in town. It is also designed to be able to host private functions for additional revenue.

Of course, the rest of the water park is family friendly, simplified by a minimum height of 42” across the board for all water slides (excluding the toddler area). At the center of the park is a 500-foot long lazy river. This area is not just for drifting. It also has a two-story bar for an elevated social experience and is where people want to go to see and be seen. Intersecting the river are two ADA-accessible bridges, which take guests to Slide Island, a large aquatic play zone. Guests floating along the lazy river will get a preview of the fun they can have on this play structure.

People looking at person on surf machine at an indoor water park

In keeping with the island theme, there is an Adventure Pool for sports activities, Blue Cascade Waterfall for the tropical feeling, Wild Wave FlowRider for surf lifestyle vibes, and ample space to chill. Combined with boardwalk food offerings, shops, a zero-gravity coaster, a zipline, and naturally, the exciting water slides and aquatic play structures, Island Waterpark is designed to inspire moments that guests won’t soon forget.

Mat and Inner Tube Slides

To make the indoor area feel spacious and comfortable, all mechanical equipment needed to be out of the guests’ view and under the two slide towers. The five biggest water slides protrude outside the building envelop and finish back inside. These also function like billboards, as elements such as huge AquaSpheres and funky AquaLucent effects dramatically showcase the thrills to be had at the water park to passersby outside.

Head Rush Mat Racer

Woman on a mat inside water slide flume

Extending outside the building facing the boardwalk is a Head Rush Mat Racer called, “Tidal Racers.” These are two flumes purposely designed with transparent sections so that the riders’ bodies can be seen whizzing by, making a connection to the people at the bustling beachfront below.

Inside the building at 71 feet, riders in two separate flumes lay on mats to begin their competition. They are taken outside the building as they speed through light and dark tubes, loops and straight sections, before finishing back inside 470 feet later, side by side, in their run-out lanes.

Inner Tube Rides

Two women on an inner tube going down a water slide
Top of water slide tower indoor

On the opposite side of the building is a tower launching three rides at 70 feet high for 1-2-person inner tubes.

“Sonic Serpent” is a Giant AquaTube that promises a speeding fun time through loops and hairpin turns.

“Barracuda Blaster” is a Constrictor that sends riders through a path punctuated by mesmerizing AquaLucent dots and then down not one, not two, but three tight coils for high-banking turns.

“Electric Eel” has riders travelling down curves and through two large, curious-looking AquaSpheres, where they oscillate inside the translucent-domed orbs and finish with hypnotic AquaLucent dots decorating the flume.

Clean and Sleek Aquatic Play Structures—Perfect for Indoor

AquaForms 12

In the middle of the park surrounded by the lazy river is Slide Island, the world’s biggest AquaForms multi-level aquatic play structure. With a clean, sleek look, this structure perfectly fits the aesthetics of the water park. A unique selling point of AquaForms is the monopole design and standard polycarbonate guardrails that allow for clear sightlines and give the area a more spacious feel—important in an indoor venue. Also, because this unit is modular, parts can be easily added or exchanged in the future.

Two women inside a water park looking around an aquatic play structure
Two women at water slides

Most of the water slide parts in this park consist of RTM (resin transfer molding) fiberglass, which is beautifully shiny on both the inside and outside surfaces and easier to clean.

Comprising 12 platforms on four different height levels, the interactive play structure feels like an adventure trail that allows for exploration. It has five body slides and 55 features in total, including a 317-gallon tipping bucket.

AquaForms 100

The little ones have a fun area all to themselves called “Kids Cove.” Made with corrosive resistant stainless steel, it’s an AquaForms 100 featuring a Mini Multi-Lane slide and interactive play elements, such as handprint and footprint activators. Just like the bigger AquaForms, this one is built with monopole design, allowing for a better sightline for the parents watching their children.

Safety Tiles with a Theme: Life Floor

The surfaces on and around both AquaForms are decked with Life Floor, a rubber foam flooring system made for the aquatic environment. Themed just like an island, both play areas use Life Floor’s classic triangular gradient pattern, starting with dark blue tiles on the periphery, then lighter blue, and finally light and then darker sandy colors toward the middle of the zone.

Green and yellow aquatic play structure
Green and yellow aquatic play structure

With over 11,000 square feet of tiles, this is one of the biggest indoor projects for Life Floor in the US. The flooring not only adds to the beauty of the water park, it also reduces slips and falls, thus making aquatic play safer for children.  

The Surf Machine with a Cult Following: FlowRider Double

Emulating a beach experience with surf is a FlowRider Double, the world’s most popular surf machine. This attraction already has a cult following. From older kids to teens to adults, flowboarding is a sport that guests would want to do over and over again to improve their skill. Fans all over the world look for FlowRiders on cruise ships, hotels, or water parks to repeat this experience.

FlowRider Double can be split down the middle through an inflatable divider for two simultaneous riders or removed for more space to shred. Also popular for spectators, this crowd pleaser entices guests to stay on site longer and enjoy more food and beverage.

Man flowboarding on surf machine inside a water park

In Summary

Island Waterpark was the most highly anticipated water park opening in North America in 2023. Atlantic City needed to transform its tourism offerings, and this water park checks many boxes. It provides a great mix of attractions in one place for both families with children as well as for adults seeking non-gaming entertainment. The success of this water park will serve as an example for other cities and developers looking to diversify their economies.

Contact WhiteWater’s experts to create your indoor water paradise.

Harmony Liau