Last night Vermont Sports was invited to the media preview of the Jay Peak Pump House, the $27 million, 50,000-square-foot water park that celebrates its grand opening today.
The best way I can describe the Pump House is, imagine giving a kid a box of crayons and asking him or her to draw the coolest place ever, and then turning that drawing over to an engineer, architect, and construction firm, and telling them to make it real. Whimsical sculptures give the park a Willy Wonka-esque vibe, cabanas provide an island feel, and the 70-seat bar doesn’t hurt things any either.
But the “rides” are the best part. The Double Barrel is a force to be reckoned with. You can boogie board into the streaming water, and when you’re ready, try tricks like getting on your knees on the board and flipping it. You can also try standing up and surfing on miniature surfboards (about the size of a skateboard). You just can’t be shy about wiping out, in front of a LOT of people.
The other attraction getting a lot of buzz is La Chute, a water slide that drops you 60 feet per second. Josh Gleiner, our gear editor, tried it last night, and when he landed, he said it happened so fast he didn’t know what happened. The slide spits you as fast as 40 mph, and you even go upside down at one point. There are three other slides, which travel outside of the building, and put you in the dark for portions, so you don’t know what to expect.
There’s a bouldering wall (a little challenging with wet hands!) above a pool, so when you drop, the water provides a fun landing. And the “lazy” river encircles the park, so when you’re ready for a break, you can ride a tube to catch your breath. (It’s not that lazy, there are some good waves!)
Admission is $35 per adult per day and $25 for juniors, but Jay is offering some splash and stay specials.
We got a tour of the underbelly last night. One of the nice aspects of this park is the lack of chlorine smell. Jay is only using about 2 parts per million of chlorine, while most public pools use about 5 ppm. Jay is using UV rays to help sterilize the water.
And, they’re capturing heat generated to refrigerate the nearby ice rink, and pumping that heat underground, to the water park, to heat the water.
It is especially great that this park is in the Northeast Kingdom, the poorest and most rural part of Vermont. This is the kind of world-class attraction that we imagine will bring a lot of tourists to Jay, and help infuse the local economy (Jay has already gone on a hiring spree, and we met many of the new employees last night. It was nice to see how happy they were and how much it seemed that they loved their job).
For those of us who live here, it’s really exciting to have something this cool in our backyard!