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Washington Voices

Give summer the slip

Sat., July 28, 2012

Bob Williams of Longview, Wash., rides a body bowl slide on Monday at Splashdown Waterpark in Spokane Valley. Williams said he and his son, Bob Jr., travel to the park from the West Side as much as they can. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Bob Williams of Longview, Wash., rides a body bowl slide on Monday at Splashdown Waterpark in Spokane Valley. Williams said he and his son, Bob Jr., travel to the park from the West Side as much as they can. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Family-owned Splash Down Waterpark hosts family fun

Temperatures are on the rise again in the area, and many residents may be looking for ways to beat the heat and find something for their kids to do.

Splash Down Family Waterpark, 11127 E. Mission Ave., has been providing summer fun for 30 years. Former owners Bill and Ruth Bleanser won the right to purchase the land and open the park after a coin toss between them and another couple interested in starting something similar on the land.

Eight years ago, the park was purchased by Geoff and Melissa Kellogg.

Geoff Kellogg was a minor league baseball pitcher, first drafted to the Milwaukee Brewers. He and Melissa moved from town to town while he played baseball and their family grew.

When he hurt his shoulder, they returned to Spokane, where they had grown up. Geoff Kellogg got a job at Splash Down as the manager and worked there for a few years while their children were still small. The couple thought about buying the place, but at the time, the price was too high.

A few years passed and the children entered school. They looked into buying Splash Down again and it worked out for the family.

At the time, the couple had five children. They now have six. The oldest is married; the youngest, Grace, is 7 years old. Melissa Kellogg said all of her children have enjoyed coming to work with her and helping out.

“All the kids have worked here,” Melissa Kellogg said.

There are about 50 employees at Splash Down. All of the lifeguards are Red Cross certified.

The Kelloggs have added a couple of features to the park since they took over. The first was the Cannon Bowl, where tubers go down a four-story slide into a bowl-shaped structure before getting flushed out at the bottom into a pool of cool water.

The next addition was Fastball, a six-story slide that drops sliders at speeds of 45 to 60 mph. There is the Big Squirt filling station – visitors can fill up water toys and squirt their friends. Water Wars offers kids a chance to shoot their friends with water balloons using a launcher.

Petey’s Lil Puffer Lagoon is designed for younger children. Melissa Kellogg said younger children feel more comfortable with smaller slides and still get to experience the fun of the rides. There is also an area set up where families can have children’s birthday parties. The area was once filled with hot tubs, but they decided the extra seating area would be a better fit next to the kids’ slides.

“It has a parklike feel,” she said of the area.

The older Spokane Falls slides, the original slides with twists and turns clearly visible from the freeway are still very popular with visitors. Each one is 400-feet long.

“It’s super fun,” Kellogg said. “It’s nice for everybody.”

Kellogg said there are still plans to expand the park. She said they have purchased three new slides – one for two people on inner tubes, one for three or four people on inner tubes and one similar to the Cannon Bowl, but used without inner tubes and sliders are flushed straight down the bottom.

“If they think this (the Cannon Bowl) is the toilet bowl …” Kellogg joked.

She said they have the slides in storage now and are making plans to install them by next summer.

After that, the Kelloggs want to look into either a lazy river attraction or a wave pool.

Joseph Zacherle, 20, braved the Fastball on Monday.

“It’s just been here for so long,” Zacherle said of Splash Down. “It’s been my water park forever.”

Splash Down heats the water for all its slides to around 73 to 75 degrees, but since it is running all day long, it tends to cool off quite a bit.

“It’s not warm,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg said families are welcome to bring a cooler with a picnic lunch when they visit. Alcohol is not allowed in the park.

What’s Kellogg’s favorite slide?

“Hands down, it’s the Cannon Bowl,” she said. “I love that crazy ride.”


 

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