Regional Office Spotlight: Munich, Germany

Continuing the series featuring our global offices, we next highlight our Europe team, detailing how WhiteWater decided on Munich and who the key personnel in the office are that help to bring the local projects into reality.

By the Numbers:

  • Year Opened: 2013
  • Employees: 13
  • Departments: 5 (Slide Path, Performance Services, Business Development, Project Management, Estimating)
  • Languages: 9 (Italian, Turkish, English, German, French, Serbian, Russian, Spanish, Croatian)

Office Origin Story

London was an obvious choice, especially with the team actively working on LEGOLAND® Windsor, but the high rent prices left them looking at other options. The winner ended up being Barcelona, as the city was a hub with good connections when it came to traveling, had an educated workforce, and was a credible site for Europe without the cost of London. Plus, it helped that Parques Reunidos was nearby as the team actively worked on Parque Warner Beach before the project’s 2014 opening.

While the office opened in 2013 with only three employees, that would quickly change. With five cruise line projects in the pipeline and an expansion for Mirabeach at Mirabilandia sold in 2014, Grant Poje relocated from Vancouver to Barcelona to join the office as VP of Business Development as water parks grew in demand. Following suit were two project managers, bringing the total headcount to six. It was also around this time that WhiteWater officially divided Europe, the Middle East, and Africa into different territories, ensuring clients would have a dedicated team in their time zone and language.

Rainer Maelzer, President of WhiteWater ERA GmbH
Rainer Maelzer, President
Diego Reckmann, Regional Director of Operations
Diego Reckmann, Regional Director of Operations

Building a Fully Equipped Team

The last big change for the office would occur in November of 2020, when it moved to Munich, Germany, to focus on implementing the local-for-local strategy. Led by industry veteran Rainer Maelzer, the move brought WhiteWater more central in the region, which better positioned the team to deliver the best water parks in the world for European clients. With nearly 30 years of experience in the theme park industry, Rainer is well-respected for innovative thinking, being one of the minds behind the SlideWheel® water slide. With a keen understanding of market dynamics, Rainer is dedicated to bringing WhiteWater’s world-class attractions to the region and was recognized with a Park World Excellence Award as an Industry Icon in 2021 and a Blooloop 50 Theme Park Influencers award in 2022.  

Following Rainer’s arrival, Eric Sinclair transitioned to the Munich office in February 2021, assuming the position of Senior Project Manager. With his passion for surfing, 10 years of project management experience at WhiteWater, and the company’s launch of Endless Surf, Eric seamlessly took up leadership of the groundbreaking project at O2 SURFTOWN MUC. His wealth of experience with supporting the region’s water park and aquatic endeavors since 2014 made him a natural asset to the European office.

Extending local market support for our clients, Diego Reckmann joined WhiteWater in September 2022 as the Regional Director of Operations. An active advocate for safety, Diego has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry and is well-versed in the EN standards due to his time with TÜV North. He has project expertise across different venue types, including cruise ships and indoor water parks, and can speak English, German, and Spanish to support clients in their language.

The most recent addition to the team is Jelena Mitosevic, who brings a master’s in industrial engineering management from the University of Novi Sad. Identifying the need to support clients with inspections and performance services in the region, Jelena supports European parks in their sustainability endeavors, working with them to extend the life of their attractions. Also speaking three languages, Jelena supports clients in Serbian, Russian, and English.

Brent Yin, Slide Path Designer
Ayberk Yuksel, Project Manager
Ayberk Yuksel, Project Manager
Deniz Caglar, Estimating Lead
Deniz Caglar, Estimating Lead

Upcoming Additions to the Munich Office

The team is continuing to expand and grow soon strengthening its expertise in the design phase by relocating Slide Path Designer, Brent Yin, from the Vancouver office. With a master’s degree in engineering design from McMaster University, Brent is well equipped to support the Europe team with tricky layouts, working to fit big, iconic rides into small footprints, such as in hotels and indoor water parks.

Finding talent from outside the company, WhiteWater’s Munich office will welcome Ayberk Yuksel this summer. Bringing over 20 years of industry experience, Ayberk was the head project manager for Poland’s largest indoor water park, Park of Poland, before joining WhiteWater. His training with the team is well underway at WhiteWater’s Dubai office learning from the regional project managers before finalizing his training in Vancouver and relocating to Munich later in the year.

We highlighted Deniz Caglar, who leads estimating for the EMEA region, in the first installment of our regional office series. Now, we are excited to announce that she will also be relocating to WhiteWater’s Munich office at the end of summer. With over two decades of experience in project cost management, Deniz significantly streamlined our operations by eliminating the need to wait 12 hours for pricing from Vancouver, facilitating quicker decision-making regarding project costs.

Parallel Pursuit racing water slides from below
Parallel Pursuit, Studio City, China
FlowSurf wave simulator
FlowSurf, Lake Tencin, France
AquaForms play structure
AquaForms 300, Aqualand Moravia, Czechia

Attractions in the European Market

We asked the business development team for some of their favourite attractions in the region… Here’s what they had to say:

  • Racing has long been a beloved pastime in Europe, and the allure is evident in the rides that draw crowds and generate high repeat ridership and throughput. Alican Bozkurt, VP, of Business Development, pointed out Parallel Pursuit as one of his top picks. This attraction fosters head-to-head competition and enhances interactivity by incorporating a low separating wall. This design allows riders to see and hear each other, whether they are navigating straightaways or tackling turns, in both open and enclosed sections.
  • Pushing the boundaries of surf, Tom Krüger, VP, of Business Development for FlowRider®, was nostalgic over the addition of FlowSurf™ last year as it reminded him of his early days studying hydropower and dam construction in Munich. Taking inspiration from the Eisbach and other famous river waves, FlowSurf uses real surfboards to carve on top of a glassy, deep-flow stationary wave.
  • “Sustainability has been a growing area of importance for European water parks, so one of my recent favourites is our AquaForms product line,” said Business Development Manager Sirko Adler. “We opened an AquaForms at Aqualand Moravia last year, and it does a wonderful job of offering a greater play space on a minimal footprint.” Using corrosive-resistant materials and RTM (resin transfer molding) fiberglass, this aquatic play structure is durable and easy to maintain. It includes nine-foot and hand activators to create a more engaging play experience with real cause-and-effect interactions. Additionally, because these features are not always on, the park uses less water to entertain.
Surf lagoon under construction
water park under construction
Solaris Beach Resort Expansion

What’s Next for Europe?

All eyes are on Europe as the team has several exciting openings this summer; the first of which is the highly anticipated O2 SURFTOWN MUC. An inland surf lagoon that will offer authentic running waves that can be generated every 10 seconds for up to 180 meters, thanks to Endless Surf, the focus of the venue is on creating an atmosphere that promotes the fun of the sport and offers a surf and lifestyle experience for everyone.

The team also has two expansions to existing parks in Denmark and Croatia. Over in Scandinavia, the team will open a Mini Boomerango, Pool Sider, Multi-Lane, Ramp Slide, and Tailspin + Boomerango Fusion at Fårup Sommerland. This will be the first installation in Europe where we see a mini and a full-scale of the same attraction. Similarly, Aquapark Dalmatia at Solaris Beach Resort is adding to its hotel water park a combination of indoor and outdoor attractions, including AquaSplash, Wave River, Wave Pool, AquaPlay 250, Constrictor + Rattler Fusion, Whizzard, Giant AquaTube, Parallel Pursuit, and Life Floor.

According to WhiteWater ERA GmbH President, Rainer Maelzer, “At WhiteWater Europe, our focus is on localizing solutions to meet the unique needs of our clients. From groundbreaking surf parks to sustainable attractions, we’re committed to driving innovation that leaves a lasting, positive impact and delivers unforgettable experiences.”

Cassidy Newman