With the recent announcement of the expansion of Oceans of Fun there have been a lot of questions. Why combine the parks now? What’s happening to Diamondhead? So with many questions swirling in my mind I thought I would ask Brandon Stanley at Worlds of Fun a few questions to offer some understanding behind the changes coming up for the 2013 season.
The big question, on my mind at least, is why the parks were combined. Sure when all the Six Flags parks started adding on the mini-water parks (Hurricane Harbor), I thought that if oceans was going to be combined surely that would have been when it would have happened. But no, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Ground breaking at Oceans of Fun in 1981. I know this isn't 100% a historical blog but I had all these cool old Oceans of Fun photos and I have never had any reason to share them... They are shattering a bottle of water, against an earth mover. Pictured here are: (from left to right) Bob MacGregor (president of Kansas City Chamber of Commerce), Pat Tierney (president of the convention bureau), David Rismiller (president of Commerce Bank), Lee Derrough (General Manager of Worlds of Fun), Jack Steadman (president of Worlds of Fun), Chuck Boyd (Direct of Missouri Division of Tourism), Bill Linscott (of Linscott, Haylett, Wimmer and Weat) and Gary Maggert (Engineer for Burns and McDonnell)
First, a little history. Oceans of Fun opened in 1982, it was extremely unique, toted as the worlds largest water park when in opened on May 22, 1982, spread over 60 acres, and costing over $7 million dollars in construction. Many of the highlights from that year are still with us, the 1 million gallon Surf City wave pool and the fifty foot tall Diamondhead water slides still holding onto their crazy names, Waiki Wipeout, Maui Wowee and Honolulu Lulu. In 1992, for the park’s 20th anniversary, the park made a second unprecedented decision… to combine the parks, sort of. With the same day gateway people could visit both parks on the same day, but they still continued to operate as two separate gated parks, and Monsoon would become known as the “border patrol” between the two.
Monsoon, shot in the early 90's not long after the combination of both parks under the Same Day Gateway. Several years ago the crew of Monsoon created a crew shirt that said "Monsoon Border Patrol" which they truthfully have been since 1992 until last weekend...
A few years ago, when the Paramount Parks joined the chain, the Gold and Platinum passes were introduced to season pass holders. With most electing to go with the Gold pass, most pass holders now had admission to both parks included in one pass.
From Brandon Stanley at Worlds of Fun, the expansive group of Gold Pass holders and the fact that they already pack Oceans of Fun was one of the reasons for the decision to combine the two parks. The other? Group sales. Group picnics have been the lifeblood of amusement parks and theme parks since the beginning of time it seems. Even back at the turn of the LAST century they were the moneymakers for parks. Group ticket sales at Oceans has been low says Stanley at Worlds of Fun. So by combining both parks it gives them the opportunity to offer both parks to future groups, and use the picnic facilities at both parks as well.
So did combining the parks have anything to do with competition from Six Flags across the state? Stanley states that the park doesn’t generate much attendance from that region, so the competition aspect never seems to have entered into the decision. Plus from a personal point of view (mine), we all know Oceans of Fun is better then Hurricane Harbor anyway. (Am I biased? Possibly)
Diamondhead under construction!
So 2nd big question. What about Diamondhead? Worlds of Fun is saying, Diamondhead is staying for now. So all those that love Waikiki Wipeout, or Honolulu Lulu, they aren’t going anywhere, and you don’t need to throw away that super sized bottle of tylenol. The only thing that is going at Oceans it appears is Captain Kidd’s, the pirate ship water play area, but it will be replaced. The plans on that have not been finalized.
Last question and probably most important to some people (who don’t have a season pass that is I guess). Price. First, it appears that there will be a staggered price with spring and fall, offering a discount over the summer season when both parks are open. Second the actual price? No official news yet.
Sorry for the crookedness, but its pretty cool. Some original concept artwork of Oceans of Fun.
So we have (some) answers, and Worlds of Fun’s 40th anniversary is shaping up. When I was a kid, I probably went to Oceans of Fun about 3X more then I ever went to Worlds of Fun, I have lots of memories. From playing in the sand at Neptune’s Lagoon to spending hours camped out in front of the Diamondhead slides. The biggest thing I remember is how we all used to say that the only thing that divided Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun was a fence. Remember Mamba and Monsoon weren’t there yet, so you couldn’t actually SEE Worlds of Fun from the Oceans of Fun picnic area. I have to give credit where credit is due, Lamar Hunt, Jack Steadman, Lee Derrough, they were forward thinkers back then, water parks were barely in their infancy, the first Schlitterbahn, the granddaddy of all water parks had only opened in 1979, three years earlier. So it was a big risk to build such a large, expensive, expansive waterpark in Kansas City at the time. It was a good decision. Let’s hope that Oceans of Fun’s good fortune continues far in the future.