ORLANDO -- By Allison Walker Torres, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor News 13 Orlando
This week, Universal's Volcano Bay celebrates its grand opening. So have you ever wondered just what it takes to build a water park?
We visited the design team at Falcon's Treehouse, the attractions division of Falcon's Creative Group. They've created everything from Turtletrek at SeaWorld Orlando to Heroes and Legends at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Another one of their projects is an Atlantis water park in China that has a centerpiece similar to Volcano Bay's 200-foot Krakatau. While Falcon's didn't work on Volcano Bay, Chief Creative Officer Cecil Magpuri says there's a lot of stuff going on in most water parks that guests wouldn't know about.
"There's these huge pumps -- sometimes the size of this room -- that has to be hidden to the consumer," he said. "[The park] wants to focus the guest on looking at the theming."
"For example, like these columns," added Falcon's Creative Group VP, David Schaefer, referencing a rendering of an aquarium. "While they're very decorative, those are the large columns that are supporting the acrylic panels for the grand aquarium. And so, we also have a lot of different lighting features and special effects that kind of bring the space to life."
Scott Miller's job is to take the visions that are born in studio and actually install them. He says a water park is basically a huge plumbing project. The water itself needs to be way more pristine than your swimming pool at home.
"It's gotta be filtered a lot more because there's a lot more people," Miller said. "So it's gotta get a lot of gallons per minute [that] have to be circulated and filtered and cleaned. And replaced! There's evaporation... There's a lot of kinetic energy flowing through that you can't see. When you get up on the slide and you slide down, you've got that trail of water right behind you."
While these men specialize in different parts of the design process, they all put equal emphasis on sticking to the storyline.
"That's a big part of the successful components of developing a water park, is to make sure the story still survives the process," Magpuri said.
"It's usually a very collaborative process to develop the story," Schaefer agreed. "Sometimes it can be a few people sitting in a room together and we come up with great ideas. Sometimes it can be a much larger group."
So this Thursday, Volcano Bay's first guests will take on the carefree attitude of the fictional Waturi islanders - a story told on 30-acres of parts you're never supposed to see.