On May 28th, 2016, developers Keith Dalton, Terry Hlavinka, and Ray DeLaughter opened their 25-acre waterpark, Typhoon Texas to the world. The momentous occasion was the successful culmination of their three-year quest to bring world-class family entertainment to Katy, Texas.
The city of Katy had been approached on six prior occasions with waterpark proposals, but each had been rejected as they waited for a private developer to undertake the project. The city got their wish when Texas A&M classmates Dalton and Hlavinka, along with DeLaughter, approached them with their plans.
Noticing a lack of quality, wholesome fun in the region west of Houston, the Typhoon Texas team began exploring several different types of projects, always returning to the idea of a waterpark. So in 2012, they started on the epic mission of planning the largest private waterpark to be built in the U.S. in the last 10 years.
With investors on board, funding secured, and planning underway, the park’s developers did their research, visited waterparks, and evaluated providers before selecting WhiteWater in December, 2014 to help make the Typhoon Texas vision a reality within their aggressive timeline.
To set the project up for success, the pre-contract phase was critical in establishing achievable milestones. Each side racked up a few air miles by visiting each other’s sites to review the project details, confirm the schedule, and to get to know the project team in person. This invaluable facetime ensured that Typhoon’s vision was fully communicated, understood, and realized by both parties and set the foundation for a productive relationship.
Working with Typhoon’s in-house designers, WhiteWater created several concept plans for the park, until arriving on the ideal design for their site parameters and projected demographics. To land on an optimal mix of attractions, WhiteWater had to strike a balance between slides and waves, rivers, and play structures to ensure there was something for every age group, thrill level, as well as capacity concern.
With the right schedule, right team, and right product mix in place, the ground-breaking took place in late August, 2015. Manufacturing of the fibreglass started in the summer, while the construction team, also the developers, ensured that foundations and excavations were done in time so there were no delays. Installation went well because of their experience in running construction projects, in hiring sub-contractors, and because they had a full-time WhiteWater PM on site; all key contributors to any project’s success.
Nine months after their ground-breaking, the Texas-themed waterpark was ready to welcome 10,000 guests a day. Featuring 13 main rides, a custom RainFortress, 25,000-square foot wave pool, and a 1,345-foot lazy river, Typhoon Texas Houston were able to exceed their projected gate of 400,000 guests in their first summer season of operation.
With such a successful opening, it’s no surprise that the team at Typhoon have already expanded and added a second park to their portfolio, aptly named Typhoon Texas Austin, located in Pflugerville, Texas. Already an established waterpark, Typhoon is teaming up with the folks at WhiteWater once again, this time to add their beloved feature attraction, Gully Washer RainFortress, to their newest location.
Evan Barnett, the General Manager of Typhoon Texas Houston, offers up some lessons learned after their first year in operation.
“Enjoy the journey and keep it simple. Less is more, work on exceling at the basics daily.”
“Always allow more time for training with a brand new front line team. Typhoon Texas team members set the tone for our guests to enjoy their day.”
“Research and match the attraction mix to reflect your target audience and the region you are developing in.”
Typhoon Texas is brimming with fun and thrilling slides. From the twists and turns at The Snake Pit to the thrilling drops and loops of The Duelin’ Daltons, there is no shortage of exhilarating experiences to be found. However, there is one slide that seems to have created something of a bragging rights’ feat that has guests lining up over and over again to complete.
If you head over to the Monster Storms slide tower, you’ll see two six-person family raft slides, The Texas Twister, an AquaSphere-Constrictor fusion slide, and the park’s eponymous Typhoon, the Texas flag-covered Boomerango. It’s the shot of that Texas flag, covered with a raft of ecstatic riders that has become synonymous with Typhoon Texas, and it’s that flag’s star that has become the ‘brass ring’ of the ride. The Typhoon is as iconic for its look as it is for its must-do experience.
Guest after guest try their luck at touching the star as the raft soars up the wall of the Boomerango, having to time it just right to complete the task. If they don’t do it on the first try, they’ll line up again, readjust their approach, and try again, just to be able to say that they’ve, ‘touched the star’.