Keeper of the Plans

Wichita’s newest water park opens this weekend. Here’s what you need to know

Experience Wichita’s new Splash Aqua Park

Eagle reporter Matt Riedl was the first person to take a run-through of Splash Aqua Park, which opens Saturday at I-235 and Seneca. It's an inflatable obstacle course that floats on a sand pit, and it's unlike any other water park in Wichita.
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Eagle reporter Matt Riedl was the first person to take a run-through of Splash Aqua Park, which opens Saturday at I-235 and Seneca. It's an inflatable obstacle course that floats on a sand pit, and it's unlike any other water park in Wichita.

A new water park is opening in Wichita on Saturday, but don’t expect any lazy rivers.

Splash Aqua Park, 820 W. Steeple Bay Parkway, is more “Wipeout” than it is “water park,” at least in the traditional sense of the term.

The park features more than 80 inflatable obstacles that float on a sandpit lake just south of I-235 and Seneca. For an hourly fee, people of all ages can try to maneuver through the course without falling in the lake — though that is half the fun of it.

Sprinklers will ensure that all the inflatable slides, swings, ramps, wiggle bridges, ladders and trampolines are slippery.

Admission to the park is priced by the hour: A one-hour session is $15 per person, and a two-hour session is $25 per person. People can also purchase a punch card for five hours for $50. The price is the same regardless of the participant’s age.

That’s about on par with Wichita’s trampoline parks, which charge anywhere from $10 to $13 for one hour of bouncing.

Participants must sign a liability waiver, after which they are given a life jacket and a safety briefing. Come wearing a swimsuit — you’ll have to swim out to the obstacles.

Park owner Cole Kalkbrenner said there will eventually be a changing room at the park, but until then there are porta-potties on site.

Sessions start on the hour, and guests are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes prior. Up to 100 people can use the park per session.

Anyone 5 and older can use the park.

The water park will be open every day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. until Labor Day, when the park will open exclusively on weekends. The last day of the season will be Sept. 29.

Four lifeguards will be watching over the park at all times, with a fifth supervising lifeguard on shore.

At its deepest point, the sandpit lake is 12 feet deep.

Kalkbrenner has had multiple teams of divers inspect the pond to ensure the water is clean and debris free. They’ve also used sonar, he said.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.splashict.com or in person at the park.

The best way to get there is to drive north on Gold Street from MacArthur, where a newly paved street leads straight to the parking lot. There will eventually be an entrance to the park from Seneca, Kalkbrenner said.

For parents of kids playing at the park, there is a beach where lawn chairs and blankets can be set up. It doesn’t cost anything for parents to hang out on the beach.

“This is very similar to a trampoline park, where you come and you stay for an hour at most, get your energy out, and then hang out on the beach for another hour,” Kalkbrenner said. “This is a fun, healthy outdoor activity that you can do on a hot summer’s day.”

In addition to the water park, Splash Aqua Park will rent paddleboards for $10 per hour. The goal, Kalkbrenner said, is to offer rentable paddleboats in the future.

Kalkbrenner said he wanted to create an atypical water attraction in Wichita.

Similar floating water parks have found popularity overseas, and the concept is starting to catch on in America, Kalkbrenner said.

He and his wife, Erin, own and operate a similar floating water park in Port Macquarie, Australia — where they lived and waterskiied for multiple years. They moved to Wichita last year.

“(In Port Macquarie), we just had a clean body of water, similar to this, that wasn’t getting utilized, so we decided to take a chance on a really cool business model — inflatable water parks,” Kalkbrenner said. “Here we are, four years later, still operating in Port Macquarie and now we’ve got one right here in Wichita.”

Every year, the inflatable obstacles will change at the park, Kalkbrenner said. He’s partnered with Aquaglide, the manufacturer of the obstacles, to test out new ones in Wichita, he said.

“We’ll get it right here in Wichita first,” he said. “We’re excited to grow with Wichita.”

Splash Aqua Park is the first major attraction to open in what developer Jeff Lange is calling Steeple Bay, a mixed-use development that will soon be home to Gander Outdoors and Camping World stores.

Those stores are both expected to open next month, Lange said.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.

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