The Waterpark Capital of the World!

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I spent the weekend in the Wisconsin Dells, celebrating my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary.  As a waterpark virgin, I thought I’d report on my experience.  It would require an entire blog post to explore the in-laws, or the Midwest. (I always forget how nice these people are – here I am at DTW, browsing at Borders– well actually, trying to keep the kids from killing each other during our four-hour layover by reading up on the Jonas Brothers and latest in the Twilight/teenage-mutant vampire sex saga – and the sales clerk just will not stop talking.  “What’s your problem?” I want to ask, and then it hits me – I’m in Michigan!)

Chula Vista Waterpark, Wisconsin Dells

Chula Vista Waterpark, Wisconsin Dells

Anyway, back to the Waterpark Capital of the World®.  Because this is Wisconsin, and the weather can be (and was) 50 degrees in June, we spent our weekend at the indoor waterpark.  At check-in, I noticed a sign that read something like, “In order to protect and enhance our environment, we are charging a $2 per day ‘green fee'”.  It was then that I started noticing the environmental nightmare of this place:

  • First of all, there are hundreds of thousands of gallons of water being used on a daily basis, mostly transported around by pumps and machines of enormous proportions.
  • This water, splashed around by wave machines, water cannons, and the like, creates rainforest-like conditions.  Combine that with the airborne byproducts of pool-water sanitizing chemicals, and indoor air quality is something you don’t want to think about.
  • Finally, the noise.  I felt a bit like the Grinch in Who-ville (“That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! THE NOISE! THE NOISE!”) but I swear the noise levels must have exceeded OSHA standards.  There are very few times I wish I had a sound level meter on-hand; this was one of them.

Back in our room/condo, there was a jacuzzi (into which Greta proceeded to pour an entire bottle of dishwashing liquid – someone’s having bubble baths this week!), the usual teeny-tiny bottles of shampoo, and not a single energy-efficient light bulb.   I kept asking myself what they could possibly by spending my $2 on.

When I got home, I tried to do some research on environmental impacts of waterparks, and did not find much.  I did learn though, that there is a LEED-Certified waterpark in Indiana.  This seems about as oxymoronic as ‘sustainable aviation’, but whatever.

The kids had a blast.

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