Report in on Cove's First Year

The numbers are in on Castaway Cove's first year as a city-owned water park. Despite missing key targets, the park turned a profit.

Kent Lemasters is the President of Amusement Aquatic Management Group. He presented the season's report to Wichita Falls City Council Tuesday morning. The bad news is attendance numbers are over 8,000 below budget and revenue is nearly $200,000 under budget. But, the park profited nearly $180,000.

While that is well below the $312,964 budget, city officials called season one a success.

"We're pretty happy with the first season," said Wichita Falls City Manager Darron Leiker, "and we look forward to growing the attendance numbers and look forward to better things to come."

Leiker said the city had two main goals heading into this season. First, to facilitate a smooth transition from the old owners to the city. Second, to turn a profit. The city accomplished both.

Leiker and Lemasters both cited bad weather and the down economy for missing projections. Otherwise, they are pleased with what was accomplished. In fact, Leiker credits Lemasters for the success castaway Cove experienced despite everything.

"I think if we would not have had their expertise," he said, "given the economic climate and the weather, we probably would have suffered even more on attendance numbers."

Lemasters admitted, though, some things could have been done differently. He said he wishes they had changed marketing strategies earlier in the season following a rainy start to summer.

The Cove experienced some success with their Nightwater promotion and deals for airmen at Sheppard Air Force Base. Leiker and Lemasters said they will look at how to better capitalize on that kind of marketing next year.

One of the biggest issues guests had with the cove was price. In gate surveys, guest satisfaction was lowest in the admission and food price categories, rating 3.2 and 3.3 out of five respectively. Lemasters and Leiker said they would look at pricing, but feel they can better work on deals for season pass holders.

There are plans for adding value to the cost of admission though. Ideas which will be considered include pairing meal deals with admission and adding more events. Lemasters said more concerts, extreme sports and shows like diving exhibitions will all be considered.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.