The Neglected Age Children

The July/August issue of International Aquatics magazine featured "dream waterparks of the new millennium." The magazine had ten designers sketch up their dream facilities, with no budget or other constraints. Their designs were featured in the magazine.

Many of the designs were innovative and had great features. However, when we looked them over, we noticed that not a single design addressed a very significant market niche, children 2 years and younger. That's right, not a single one of the dream facilities addressed this age group and the needs of their parents.

We find this is a common deficiency in just about ever location-based leisure (LBL) facility we visit; there is no recognition of the unique needs for this age group. The only explanation we can think of is that either designers think all young children are the same and don't understand the differences in developmental ages of children, or the designers think children 2 and younger are just too young to do anything. Perhaps they think they spend their entire day in strollers.

We know this is a significant market from our work with a number of our clients who have children's facilities. One client, whose facility does more business seasonally than most FECs do in an entire year, gets 30% of its attendance from this young age group. Why, because we worked with them to design the facility to not only appeal to these youngest children, but to also make the facility incredibility friendly for parents with young children.

Most LBLs are missing a significant amount of business by ignoring this youngest group of guests. When it comes to families, many families have children of different ages. Many families have both children 2-years or younger as well as older children. So just designing for older children means the facility doesn't meet those families' needs. Its no fun if the 6-year old is happy, but the 2-year is bored and screaming. Its not fun for the parents to monitor a 2-year old who is misbehaving since the play is not designed for him/her.