Through the years, NOVA Parks has been known for many things. One of those things is their pools, and the other is their creative innovation. Previous stories about how those pools came to be, like the ashtray drawing that became the Pohick Bay Pool, the trip to Alabama to see the wave pool that inspired Cameron Run, and the idea of building a large, all-inclusive pool at Bull Run, told us how first-generation recreational areas began. As we all know, however, time marches forward. And as it does, the need for change and innovation follows closely.
Today, we look back at the period of 2008 - 2012, when an innovation mindset and an entrepreneurial spirit aided NOVA Parks to make changes that transformed pools into popular themed waterparks.
For many years, the Pohick Bay pool was a very popular attraction. It was large, accessible and had fun features like diving boards and simple slides. But, as the new millennium dawned, the pool had lost some of its shine. Visitors seemed to want something different from their usual experience, and NOVA Parks was right there with them. Understanding the demographic that used the pool the most, the Park Authority began brainstorming ideas on how to make them happy while also adding a special twist to the park.
In 2008, the Pohick Bay pool was transformed from its former glory into the new age. A whimsical waterpark emerged at the site. A place where kids and parents alike could enjoy an amazing day of recreation, fun, and laughter. It was called Pirates Cove. Brand new play areas, water cannons, palm trees, and larger waterslides filled the grounds. The whole building looks like a pirate ship brimming with cannons. In June, there is even a Pirate Day with “real” pirates interacting with those at the pool. The central insight of Pirates Cove was that children from 3-10 were the primary customers, and that is the age of imagination.
Visitation to Pirates Cove more than doubled. Seeing this success, NOVA Parks set out to make the people of the Northern Virginia region even happier by calling for all of their existing pool areas to be redesigned. The Park Authority worked hard, producing the equally popular Volcano Island (Algonkian Regional Park ), Ocean Dunes (Upton Hill Regional Park), and Atlantis (Bull Run Regional Park), while also rebranding Cameron Run as Great Waves.
As of today, NOVA Parks’ waterparks are some of the most used and most beloved recreational areas in the region. The Park Authority is happy to operate and maintain these areas for the joy they bring to people of all ages. They truly are some really “cool” pools.