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Splash House attendance spikes

SPLASH: Guests use the wave pool, which Splash House director Andy Davis saysdraws a lot of people from out of town.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Warm weather and coupon deals enticed more visitors to cool down at the Splash House this summer, like the Hobart, Indiana family that drove three hours for one last splash on Labor Day.

More than 49,000 people from across Northern Indiana bought tickets at the Splash House this year after record-breaking rain kept people from wanting to get even more soaked.

“I always say we live and die by the weather,” Splash House director Andy Davis said. “July, starting with the last week of June, all the way through August, it was so hot. The first four weeks of the summer for us were really slow. At that point, I thought there was no way we were surpassing last year’s numbers, and then July more than made up for it.”

Nearly 35,000 people bought tickets in 2018, which was up slightly from 2017. 

The family from Hobart decided to make the trip to Marion after finding a Groupon.com deal, which Davis said helped drive up numbers further.

Last year was the first time the deals were offered since 2014, and coupon use more than doubled this year, with about 7,500 people taking advantage of the program.

Davis said Groupon typically advertises the deals in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne areas, but he said word-of-mouth and social media advertising drives a lot of their success, drawing many families from Anderson, Muncie and surrounding counties without pools.

City-owned pools have never turned a big profit, Davis said, so the city made the investment to get people from out of town to check out what Marion has to offer, since people often eat food in town during lunch or on their way home for dinner.

“It’s not a money maker. It never has been… We view it as a quality-of-life investment,” he said.

This year’s total brought back crowds reminiscent of when the wave pool opened in 2010, Davis said.

“To get back up toward 50,000, which is more about what our average is, was awesome,” Davis said. “The first three summers that the wave pool opened, the numbers were just outrageous.”