Where the Forest Meets the Slides

What does the forestry industry have to do with the water park business? Nothing! At least, that’s what Jim Basala thought some thirty years ago: this forester-by-trade was working for the parks and recreation department in Indiana, at a time when many people were still asking, “What is a water park?”

But there was public interest, so the parks department decided to start small with a three-flume municipal facility. They went to public bid, and that’s when the Deep River/ProSlide® partnership was born. Basala suddenly found himself plunged into a brand new industry, and was shocked at its skyrocketing popularity.

Taking Indiana by “Storm”

Phase 1 of Deep River was designed for 140,000 annual visitors. The first year, it saw more than 220,000!

“Right out of the box, we knew we needed more than what we had,” says Basala.

Enter The Storm.

It was the park’s first expansion, just a year after opening. The new custom tower had three black, enclosed ProSlide® PIPEline™ slides snaking down, with tight curves and big acceleration.  “Your stomach goes away a little bit,” says Basala. “It’s still one of my favourite rides.”

The public thought so too! The complex was a huge and instant success.

  • 1999 Opening year

  • 220,000 Visitors per year

ProSlide®: the lowest bid, the highest impact!

From the beginning, all the slides at Deep River were ProSlide®. “It’s all about low bid,” Basala explains. Because the park was—and is still—a municipal operation, the Parks and Recereation Department receives bids from many suppliers and elects to work with the lowest bidder that meets the need.  “And that’s just kind of the way it is,” says Basala. “ProSlide® was the low bidder on those first three flumes.”

But the power of ProSlide® wasn’t just its price point. When Basala and crew saw how successful the slides were becoming, they were excited to see future ProSlide® bids on park expansions. Through their low bid review process, the Parks and Recreations Department continued to work with ProSlide® for years to come.  As Basala says, “Every ride we have, if it’s fiberglass it’s ProSlide®.”

And so next came more extreme thrills with a suite of ProSlide® speed slides in 1999, and a huge expansion six years later that even included a world’s first: dueling CannonBOWL™ 40 slides positioned above a meandering lazy river. “These rides did what we wanted,” says Basala. “They were exciting. They were extreme.”

This “small” municipal park had become one of the most popular destinations in the entire southwest Michigan and central Indiana region!

Phil Hayles, VP of Business Development for ProSlide®, loves watching Deep River transform what’s possible. “They are one of the premier municipal water parks in North America,” says Hayles. “They’re just one of the most forward-thinking operations. They’re competing with larger destinations in nearby Chicago, and they’re succeeding.”

And that’s good news for the parks department. “We have a budget,” says Basala. “and 65% of our budget comes from money that we make. And of that, the vast majority comes out of Deep River Waterpark and everything that’s attached to it.”

That money supports 7000 acres of bike trails, historic areas and programming such as guided nature hikes, which don’t produce any revenue. These programs couldn’t exist without being buoyed by the success of the water park.

No Problems with ProSlide®

But it’s not all about just price and performance. The sense of partnership is also what keeps Basala and the Deep River crew coming back to ProSlide® again and again. “We’ve got 25 years of history with Deep River,” says Hayles. “It’s like a tight-knit family.”

“We have zero problems with ProSlide®,” Basala agrees. “Whether it’s the design, the delivery, the installation or the follow-through. And ProSlide®, I mean they were there in the beginning right? They helped build this industry. It’ll be neat to be around in 20 years and see what’s new and exciting.”

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We’ve always had a really good relationship with ProSlide® whether it was the design, the delivery, the installation, or the follow-through.

Jim Basala CEO, Lake County Parks and Recreation Department

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