It’s no secret that the attractions industry is known for its fanatics, and given the nature of our business, it’s no surprise that WhiteWater has its fair share—in fact, one of the biggest you’ll find anywhere, is our Kelly Sall. Growing up, Kelly spent most of his spring and summer breaks visiting theme and water parks where he’d spend his days flying on roller coasters and plummeting down water slides. In a twist of fate, the first water park Kelly ever visited was the WhiteWater Waterslide Park in Penticton, BC. Many years later he made the connection that it was owned, operated, and manufactured by the same WhiteWater that had its head office only 20 minutes from his house. Now, older, wiser, and sporting an Iron Ring, Kelly is happily part of the team at WhiteWater where he currently serves as our Product Manager for Water Rides.
What drew you to WhiteWater?
My first exposure to WhiteWater was in 1982 when I visited the first WhiteWater water park in Penticton with my family. It was my first time at a water park, and I was only 6 years old, so this was a big deal for me. I remember having the best time there, riding the slides with my Dad and sister, and left that day as a waterslide enthusiast. That day made such an impact on me that I commemorated it with a WhiteWater souvenir flag that my sister and I signed and pinned to my bedroom wall, where it remained for many years.
How did you become a Product Manager for Water Rides?
At my previous company, I was working as a Product Manager where I worked closely with the sales force, marketing department, and engineering teams. When I first joined WhiteWater, I began as a Product Development Manager responsible for technical aspects and managing new waterslide designs in the water slide value stream. With the experience from my previous job, I took on a part-time opportunity working in the Attractions value stream, which eventually transitioned to a full-time role.
Describe what a typical day looks like for you
As a Product Manager, my focus is standardizing the current products in the water rides portfolio and developing road maps for upcoming generations of water rides. I’m frequently checking in with the sales team, the marketing team, our engineers, and people in the field to learn how we can best position our products for now and the future. I also monitor industry news and read a lot of trade publications. It is important to stay abreast in trends. I also try to get on new rides whenever the opportunity arises.
What has been your favourite project?
My favourite projects so far has been the ones where we are working on Spinning Rapids Rides. It’s a true hybrid between a water slide and an amusement ride, and incredibly gratifying to see the re-emergence of this ride. I’ve ridden five out of six that are in operation globally and can verify first-hand what an incredible experience it is.
Shoot the Chute water ride at Happy Valley Shenzhen in Shenzhen, China.
What is your favourite water ride?
I really like the Shoot the Chute. It offers fun and excitement to riders and spectators with its thrilling drop and giant splash. Seeing the drop unfold from the front seat of the vehicle as you tip over the edge really gets the heart racing. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting absolutely drenched by the wall of water that is thrown towards the viewing bridge.
What’s your favourite part about working at WhiteWater?
My favourite part about working at WhiteWater is the incredible potential we have. I work with an amazing group of talented and hard-working people. In addition, we work in a fun industry that’s really taking off and embracing trends and new technologies. There are many opportunities ahead of us and Geoff’s drive has positioned us for some great success.
I also love that our products can foster imagination and play within kids of all ages. Growing up I loved playing on water slides and roller coasters because I was able to create my own narrative. Whether I felt like becoming a pirate that day or a fighter jet pilot, playing pretend in theme or water parks allowed me to create whatever story I wanted.
The souvenir flag that Kelly and his sister, Christie, signed after their visit to WhiteWater’s first waterpark.
If you could switch your job with anyone from the company, who would it be?
One of the most satisfying things about working at WhiteWater is seeing people’s faces light up as they step off a water slide or ride. I think I would personally love to be part of our installation crew or a site supervisor where you see the direct result of the entire team’s work: Smiling faces and excited screams.
What’s something people might not know about you?
That I love classical music. In high school I used to design and install high-end car stereo systems. The best genre of music to test the systems with is classical music because of its range of dynamic sounds. Because of this, I got hooked on that genre of music. I’m also a huge fan of film scores. Some of my favourite composers are Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and Gioachino Rossini.
Whizzard water slide at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
Which is your favourite slide?
The Whizzard is one of my favourite water slides. The excitement as you’re transitioning from a dark enclosed tube to light, trying to see where you are in relation to your friends, maintaining speed and experiencing the feeling of weightlessness over the drops makes for a lot of fun. Although you’re racing and participating with your friends and family, you’re also very much doing your own thing.