Splash Pads Heat Up Summer Business

Posted in Insights -

People are naturally drawn to water, especially in the summer.

While pools, oceans, lakes, and water parks are perennial favorite places to cool off, there is another option for families seeking an easier route to water-based fun in the sun: splash pads.

In fact, splash pads, also known as interactive water features, are quickly becoming the new public pools in some areas, offering engaging outdoor water experiences and providing safe recreational fun.

Interactive water features are increasingly showing up in design plans for retail and entertainment venues, hotels, apartment communities, and public spaces as landlords, developers, and city planners realize the value of these water features.

By giving guests a central area to play and enjoy, splash pads drive traffic to commercial properties and nearby businesses, increase consumer length of stay (which pleases tenants), and ultimately, can raise property values.

Below are a few splash pad features that drive traffic and benefit property owners and developers:


Today’s splash pads often feature special effects such as interactive entertainment, lights, and music, delivering an immersive experience to guests of all ages. These water features can be designed and built with a much more sophisticated presence than the playground versions with which many are familiar.

For example, OTL completed the mechanical and electrical work for the interactive Alaskan Adventure water feature at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. Children visiting the attraction can play in the splash pad’s computer-controlled water effects, which simulate the sprays and sounds made by Alaskan sea animals in their natural habitat.

Special effects like these help transform splash pads into “edutainment” destinations, which can drive repeat traffic, supporting a stronger bottom line.

In addition, play fountains in hotels and multifamily developments are amenities that attract and entertain guests and residents, giving them another reason to return again and again.


Splash pads provide a place for people to gather, play, socialize, and enjoy programmed events near the water.

In Downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park, OTL installed an 830-foot-long interactive fountain that serves as the centerpiece of the park, attracting visitors from miles around.

In addition to enjoying the water jets that shoot arcs of water up to 14 feet in the air, guests can relax in on-site picnic areas, browse a nearby farmer’s market, or even attend a wedding at the park.

Enticing people to gather around splash pads in public places encourages them to take advantage of other nearby amenities, which reinforces tourism to the area, benefits nearby businesses, and ultimately supports the vitality of the community in which the water feature is located.


Splash pads are versatile amenities – they can easily serve double duty as water-play centers during the summer months and entertainment attractions in their own right when the weather is chilly. This flexibility gives property owners, developers, and city planners an engaging focal point all year round.

At Cowles Commons in Des Moines, Iowa, for instance, OTL completed all mechanical, electrical, control systems, lighting, and finish materials for a landmark fountain in a prominent city plaza. This water feature serves as a summertime splash pad which is easily drained and converted to make room for big events. This integration with the site is a bonus in winter, too, as the fountain area just becomes part of the plaza hardscape, and doesn’t look like a fountain which is drained and empty through the cool weather season.

As interactive fountains continue to increase in popularity, developers and owners are increasingly finding these water features to be a smart addition to commercial developments and public areas.

In addition to their ability to entertain, gather people together, and serve multiple purposes, these entertaining water features can raise property values as they attract consumers of all ages to visit, play, and enjoy.