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Gaylord Palms spending $4.2 million on water park enhancements

Gaylord Palms spending $4.2 million on water park enhancements
The Gaylord Palms is bringing FlowRider back to Central Florida. The Kissimmee hotel will add the surf simulator this summer as part of an effort to bring more thrill rides to its water park. (Aqua Development Group)

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center is the latest Orlando-area resort to embark on a major upgrade of its onsite water park.

The Marriott hotel is working with New York-based Aquatic Development Group on a plan to install a waterslide complex and FlowRider surf simulator. Industry leader WhiteWater designed the waterslides.

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Hotel spokeswoman Jodi DiSalle told GrowthSpotter the attractions will cost $4.2 million. "Our industry is just like technology -- everything's changing," she said. "People are always trying to find a more exciting ride."

The investment comes just four years after the Gaylord spent $50 million on a floor-to-ceiling renovation that included construction of two new swimming pools. The hotel added a family-friendly lagoon-style pool and swanky South Beach-inspired adult pool.

"Our family pool at the Cypress Springs Water Park features four slides, a tree house and a toddler area, but we realized after we finished we needed something geared toward teenagers," DiSalle said. "We were looking for something with a bit more excitement and more adrenaline."

<a href="http://www.whitewaterwest.com/">Whitewater</a> designed this waterslide attraction for the Gaylord Palms Resort. The 48.5-foot AquaDrop will be the tallest in Florida.
Whitewater designed this waterslide attraction for the Gaylord Palms Resort. The 48.5-foot AquaDrop will be the tallest in Florida. (Gaylord Palms)

The water slides on the shared tower will include a pair of dueling, looping tube slides that allow riders to race each other and a 48.5-foot AquaDrop.

"It's the tallest AquaDrop in Florida," DiSalle said. "It uses AquaLaunch technology. There's a trap door that opens under the rider and launches them onto the slide. The slide drops into a flat-line loop and then a champagne fusion bowl."

The FlowRider surf simulator will feature a 240-horsepower pump with enough space to accommodate two riders at the same time. The Gaylord Palms will be the only resort in the market to feature the thrill ride.

Orlando had previously been home to two indoor FlowRider attractions -- one at the Florida Mall and the other at Kissimmee's Fantasy Surf. Both have closed in recent years, leaving Clearwater Beach as the closest location.

Construction is scheduled to start on July 5 at Gaylord Palms, with an opening planned for October. DiSalle said the construction won't limit guests' access to the existing pools.

"We're actually building into our parking lot, so the Cypress Springs Water Park will remain open throughout the construction period," she said.

The hotel renovated its restaurant last year and recently converted some under-utilized space into 10 additional guest rooms/meeting rooms, which brings the total number of rooms to 1,416. The thrill rides will complete the hotel's renovation plans for the year.

All of the swimming facilities are limited to hotel guests.

"I'm sure we'll continue to evolve," DiSalle said. "We're in a very competitive market, and people have limited leisure dollars. So we want to make sure they have the best experience for their dollar. Now we feel like we have a comprehensive adult pool and something for every age group."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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