|By John J. Moser, The Morning Call,
Allentown, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 31, 2008 - If Tuesday's snowstorm was the unofficial start of winter in the Poconos, today will be the first day of summer at Split Rock Resort in Carbon County.
There, H2Oooohh!, a $22.1 million indoor water park with the Northeast's first indoor surfing/boogie board "flow rider," a 135,000-gallon pool with 4-foot waves and a half-dozen other water attractions will open to the public after two years of construction.
Inside the 53,326-square-foot, rain-forest-themed park, the water temperature will always be 84 degrees and the air 80 degrees. And special ceiling windows mean you'll even be able to get a tan, resort officials said.
"It will be a tremendous benefit to the area, Carbon County and the Poconos overall," Split Rock President W. Jack Kalins said at a news conference at the Kidder Township resort Thursday.
He said H20ooohh! will employ 90-100, with 55 lifeguards -- 16 per shift -- and food and service people. The park also features a snack bar and tiki bar.
The new attraction also will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes for the Jim Thorpe Area School District, Carbon County and Kidder, Kalins said.
The park opens nearly three years to the day Great Wolf Lodge opened the Poconos' first indoor water park less than 25 miles away in Pocono Township. That resort attracts a half-million people a year.
"Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as evidenced by the number of other resorts who would like to emulate what we offer, particularly in the area of water parks," said Laura Cosmillo, Great Wolf's sales and marketing director.
When the Camelbeach outdoor water park, also in Pocono Township, opened its Pharaoh's Phortress attraction in July, officials there said they also plan a 400-room hotel with a 100,000-square-foot indoor water park.
But Kalins said that unlike Great Wolf, H20ooohh! will be open to the general public, not just resort guests. Customer capacity will be 1,350, with entry first-come, first-served.
Kalins said he envisioned the park well before Great Wolf, as long ago as the 1990s, when he saw the concept in Europe, and got planning approval in 2005.
Tom Lampron of Aquatic Development Group of Albany, N.Y., the project's designer and builder, said it's similar to parks the company has built in Kellogg, Idaho, and North Conway, N.H., and has under way in Mount Laurel, N.J.
The aquatic attractions have a total of 275,000 gallons of water, said Chuck Dickinson, Split Rock's director of special projects. In addition to the flow rider and wave pool, features include a family raft ride that seats four or five at a time, and two tube-chute rides.
There are a shallow activity pool, an activity area for children and adults and a three-story "treehouse" interactive play structure with water spray guns, cannons and geysers. The Jungle Falls bucket every five minutes dumps 500 gallons of water onto customers.
Adults can use a hot tub and warm tub, Dickson said.
The water is recycled, with losses of less than 7,500 gallons a day through evaporation and drying, Dickinson said. Also recycled is $1.8 million cubic feet of air every 71/2 minutes to maintain the temperature, he said.
He said 824 live plants -- mostly palms and ferns -- were planted in the park, making the facility "look like a rain forest."
Some parking and landscaping work remains, Kalins said. He said the snowstorm pushed completion back a week.
To see more of The Morning Call, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.mcall.com.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email email@example.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.