Carrie Rengers

New Wichita splash park: You can tell summer is almost here in 78 different bouncy ways

This week may not feel much like summer, but there’s one big indication — the size of a football field, in fact — that it’s fast approaching.

That’s the new Splash Aqua Park that’s under assembly at Steeple Bay in south Wichita.

As you round I-235 near Seneca — the same “swingaround” that prompted Marcus Lemonis to pick that spot for a Camping World and Gander Outdoors — you can see the water park taking shape this week.

The playground of 78 inflatables — including swings, slides, trampolines, jumps, wiggle bridges and other fun — is connected by inflatable walkways.

“This is like ‘American Ninja Warriors’ on the water,” said Cole Kalkbrenner, who is opening Splash with his wife, Erin.

He said 125 anchors will hold the inflatables in place.

“We’re going to have 70,000 pounds on the bottom of that lake,” Kalkbrenner said. “We’ve really had to engineer a boat to drop those anchors.”

There are three boats to do the work, one of which is outfitted with a crane on the front of it.

Kalkbrenner said the process of creating the park isn’t as simple as plopping some inflatables in the water.

“No, unfortunately not.”

He said discussions about the park started in July.

“All of these things . . . take a lot of planning,” Kalkbrenner said. “We’ve had to make sure we didn’t have any debris in the water.”

He said that was a particular concern because of past tornadoes in the area.

Placing the inflatables will take about a week, then there will be about a month of building the land infrastructure for the park.

Kalkbrenner said his hope is to open Memorial Day weekend.

He said Camping World and Gander Outdoors are supposed to open in early June. Both of the stores sit along the lake.

Kalkbrenner said he’s already getting a lot of calls for group bookings at the park.

“We’re just happy that the community has received it really well.”

The inflatables are sturdy and can’t be hurt by a grommet or something similar on a bathing suit, Kalkbrenner said.

“You’d have to intentionally want to damage the obstacles.”

Security guards will patrol the lake, and Kalkbrenner said he’s already had a lot of support from police and fire departments.

However, a camera he placed at the lake to do a time-lapse video of the inflatable assembly was stolen. Kalkbrenner called it a “super bummer.”

The Kalkbrenners are professional water skiers who helped develop a similar park in Australia.

The park is for children and adults of all ages starting at what most likely will be age 5 with adult supervision. Visitors have to sign a waiver, wear a park-provided life jacket that is fitted by a park employee and attend a safety briefing.

An hour session is $15, and a two-hour session is $25.

“You just walk into the water with a life jacket on,” Kalkbrenner said. “It’s about 25 feet to the first platform that you can step up onto.”

He said the park is “a crazy-good workout,” but mostly it’s just fun.

“You have to have a smile on your face the whole time. It’s just unbelievable.”