This year should be quite an adventure for Hawaiian Falls. The Irving-based water park company hopes to make a big splash with its first year-round attractions and an expansion outside of Texas.
In June, the company was scheduled to open a $23 million regional park in Pflugerville, north of Austin, and a $16 million park in White Settlement, west of Fort Worth. They were to be the first water parks to include a year-round attraction called Hawaiian High Adventures—3 acres of cargo nets, ropes courses, and physical outdoor activities, including a 70-foot-high zip line that sails adventure enthusiasts over a lazy river and wave pool. Each “adventure” park also includes a conference center that can accommodate up to 1,000 people.
David Busch, president and CEO of Horizon Family Holdings, Hawaiian Falls’ parent company, believes he’s hit upon something that will extend the short 90- to 100-day water park season to nearly 365 days a year.
“We think this is the next thing in outdoor family entertainment,” Busch says. “We are willing to risk the company. That is what we are doing.”
Hawaiian Falls has existing water parks in Mansfield, Roanoke, Garland, The Colony, and Waco. With the addition of the two new parks the company projects about $30 million in revenue and 1.8 million visitors this year, up from $17 million in revenue and 1 million visitors last year.
The water parks operate via public-private partnerships in which the cities own the parks and fund construction. They lease them back long-term to Hawaiian Falls to operate. Generally, 5 percent to 8 percent of park revenue is returned to the cities that own the parks, or about $250,000 a year for each of the five parks without a year-round concept. City coffers could get fatter with the new adventure parks bringing visitors year-round. The adventure parks cost about $5 million to build and, like the water parks, the cities will fund their construction.
Hawaiian Falls will soon embark on its first expansion beyond its home state, with a deal for a park in Elk Grove, Calif. It also has projects under negotiation in Hawaii, San Francisco, and Kansas City, Missouri.
The growth has Busch considering whether to take on an equity partner. “We’d love to find the right one,” he says, “if we could get an alignment on the vision.”
The 63-year-old CEO says he has no immediate plans to retire, but admits he’s on the hunt for long-term leadership and recently named a regional manager for Austin/Waco and another for the DFW parks.
“I’ve never enjoyed life more,” Busch says. “I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”