Reflecting on an Unexpected Year

Well, 2020 was an unexpected year! While most of us are releasing a sigh of relief that the year is now behind us, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my top 10 WhiteWater moments of 2020, because despite the challenges (or because of them), our team’s achievements deserve the spotlight:

1. Launching Endless Surf: Perhaps the most exciting moment of 2020 was the launch of our new product line, Endless Surf! Although 2020 turned out to be an odd year to launch a new product line, Endless Surf was the culmination of years in the making—and a buzzworthy product was just what we needed. Despite the market uncertainty, Endless Surf has generated huge interest with half a dozen projects already in development from Vietnam to Paris. We are excited to bring the next generation of powerful, efficient, and customizable waves to the world and can’t wait to see the first Endless Surf pool installed.

2. Vantage Contact Tracing: As a business, it is important to identify opportunities and pivot on them nimbly in response to changing conditions. At WhiteWater, we launched Vantage in 2018 to help water parks gain access to real-time data and insights to improve guest experiences and operational efficiency. With 2020 bringing new challenges, Vantage saw a need to pivot and use their technology to help with the urgent contact tracing requirements being faced by long-term care facilities. Now, not only can their software be used for the water park industry, but their technology is helping in healthcare settings and offices to track interactions and keep people safe.

3. Creating Industry Firsts: Inspired by our AquaLoop water slide, the first Orbiter in the world opened this year giving family and friends the ability to share the experience of a complete high-thrill 360° loop. A World Waterpark Association (WWA) Leading Edge and Asia Attractions Golden Crown award winner, Orbiter starts with an enclosed tube that leads into a steep open twisted drop that races rafts into the upward angled and twisted Orbiter loop. Here, rafts make a high-banking circumnavigation along the outside wall of the disc, building height as they reach the apex, before a high-speed drop down into the pool entry. It’s an unparalleled ride experience never seen in water parks until this year!

4. Record-Breaking: Another WWA Leading Edge Award winner, the Master Blaster on the Navigator of the Seas cruise ship from Royal Caribbean stands seven stories high and propels two-person inner tubes along more than 800 feet of hills, drops and straightaways – it is the longest waterslide ever on a cruise ship. Reaching top speeds of 28 km/h (17 mph), guests alternate between enclosed sections with thrilling AquaLucent colored rings, uncovered blaster sections, and clear acrylic AquaTube. The Master Blaster makes use of curves and a hairpin turn to confine its length to the back third of the Navigator and hurls riders through the longest stretch of slide ever suspended over open water.

5. Bringing Surf to Backyards: Perfect for a year of ‘staycations’, we also launched the FlowRider® Edge, a personal surf machine that attaches to your pool and easily fits into your backyard. The Edge is a single-lane, one-pump, tight-footprint attraction with our patented inflatable ride surface wipeouts into a ton of fun—just flow with the water over the back and splash down right into your swimming pool. With the new product to the FlowRider® line, homeowners can now create a personal “surf spot” just for their friends and family. With over 8 new waves installed from Texas to Dubai in 2020 and even more scheduled for completion in 2021, this year was stellar for the FlowRider® team.

6. New Offices: To better serve our European customers, we opened a new regional office in Munich, Germany. The new office is led by industry leader Rainer Maelzer and focuses on providing a full-service offering with an expert WhiteWater team with the local market knowledge and responsiveness. The expanded team includes business development managers, designers, slide path engineers, project managers, site supervisors, and after-sales specialists. Boasting multiple languages and decades of industry experience, we are now centrally located in the region and better positioned to deliver the best water parks in the world for European, Russian and African clients. In addition to the new Munich office, our Shanghai and Vancouver head office also moved this year. We’d outgrown the previous buildings and came back from the spring lockdown to a stylish new light-filled space, maybe symbolic of the brighter times ahead.

7. Making History: WhiteWater’s Executive Vice President of the Americas, Franceen Gonzales, was appointed as Chairperson of ASTM’s F24 committee – Amusement Rides and Devices in 2020. Franceen is the first woman to hold this post, which reflects her constant dedication over the past 35 years to make parks safer for all visitors. Throughout her illustrious career, she has held leadership roles in industry groups such as International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), World Waterpark Association (WWA), Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC), Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), and AIMS International and has been recognized with multiple industry awards for her volunteer work.

8. Global Recognition: Sometimes recognition comes in the form of an award, like our President & CEO, Geoff Chutter being Canada’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2020, and sometimes it is being featured by a global news network! Having grown up in the UK watching the BBC it was a thrill to have Geoff was also featured on BBC’s program, “Paths to Success.” The Canadian BBC team visited WhiteWater’s head office in Vancouver, B.C., where Geoff was able to share a view into the attractions industry and reflected on how as a new entrepreneur, he found himself hugely mortgaged, with interest rates reaching 20%, but persevered to create WhiteWater as the global company we know today.

9. Increased Flexibility: We have embraced different ways of working as a result of 2020, working collaboratively across teams, and remotely from our homes. Different waves of the pandemic have shown us that our team is able to be successful wherever they work; their commitment and flexibility to keep projects on track has been incredible. With sailing routes and ground shipping heavily effected, the pandemic taught us the need for us to improve communication, data, and information sharing across borders and global supply chains. With increased flexibility 2020 helped us to find the silver lining in every cloud. Heading into 2021, our team will continue to focus on supply chain optimization and leverage our ERP investments refining processes; all of which allow us to be even more agile and resilient in the future.

10. Celebrating 40 Years: WhiteWater’s odyssey began as one of Canada’s first water parks, wherein a fledgling industry, water slide manufacturers were few and far between. As necessity is the mother of invention, WhiteWater started constructing its own water slides. Within five years, WhiteWater had acquired a fiberglass manufacturing plant and a local engineering firm becoming a complete manufacturing solution provider for water parks around the world. Turn the clock forward 40 years and you’ll find WhiteWater still thriving as the largest international provider of everything a water park needs, from park design to the broadest range of attractions in the industry. A huge accomplishment for the team, December 15th 2020 marked the company’s 40th anniversary!

While 2020 was a jam-packed year, I am happy to report that we don’t show any signs of slowing down, with big new products on the horizon and scheduled installations around the globe. WhiteWater is looking forward to another exciting year as we continue the celebrations of our 40th anniversary, anticipating the innovations and progress of our decade ahead.  As 2020 has proven, our team’s commitment continues undaunted to help parks solve problems, create immersive experiences, and delight guests all over the world.

See you in 2021, hopefully, face-to-face once more!

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Mat Racer, Gui'an Water Park, Fuzhou, China

Una DeBoer