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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Silverwood Theme Park wave pools ‘are a meeting point for people’ to beat the heat

The wave pools at Boulder Beach Bay might not be the first attraction that comes to mind when you think of Silverwood Theme Park.

But in this heat, it’s hard to imagine a trip without them.

“The wave pools are a meeting point for people – right in the middle of the water park. It’s always the thing people gravitate towards,” public relations manager Stephanie Sampson said. “Something every member of the family can enjoy.”

Boulder Beach opened in 2003 with one wave pool. As it became clear one wasn’t going to be enough, the park added another.

Nearly 20 years later, the pools are still packed every day. Behind the walls of the wave pools are feats of engineering.

To create the waves, turbines start pushing air every 10 minutes into a large, watertight chamber. The air is then forced through flaps into another chamber built out over a small, partially enclosed section of the pool. The air pushes the water down and out of the chamber; as the air rushes back out, the water flows back in.

By varying the timing of the air flaps, the mechanism creates four distinct wave shapes.

“All it does is push air down and then let the water rise,” said Danny Wanamaker, Silverwood’s rides and water maintenance manager.

For the team that keeps the waves rolling, days at the park start long before the first guests arrive.

“We get here at about 4 o’clock every morning,” Wanamaker said. “We go through every single ride and the whole water park.”

That means climbing every tower and slide, meticulously going through the multi-page safety checklists prescribed for each attraction.

Meanwhile, the biggest concern at the wave pools is regulating the water’s pH levels. Compared to running a roller coaster such as Aftershock, which has more than six pages of single-spaced safety checks, the wave pools are simple.

By the end, every roller coaster will run between six and 12 times before the park opens.

“We test every ride all the way down to the kiddie rides which, believe it or not, are some of the hardest to inspect,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts and you have to check every single one, grease every single thing on an exact schedule.”

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