ATLANTIC CITY BETS ON NON-GAMBLING ENTERTAINMENT
A new $100-million indoor aquatic recreation facility is hoping to make a splash in Atlantic City with the aim of appealing to family tourism and giving visitors something else to do besides gambling in the New Jersey tourism destination.
It is an effort that Las Vegas has used with great success in recent decades as that city emphasized resort amenities, entertainment and most recently, professional sports, in addition to gambling.
The Island Waterpark is another big bet on non-gambling entertainment in the seaside resort as Atlantic City seeks to become less dependent on the spin of the slot machine reels, the roll of the dice or the flip of the cards.
In recent years, its nine casinos and some non-gambling businesses have unveiled attractions including a giant Ferris wheel, high-end restaurants and shopping and entertainment venues.
“I’m so excited for this project and for the people of Atlantic City. You can bring the family and have something for the kids to do, too,” said Bart Blatstein. “Statistics show people will travel up to seven hours to go to a water park. And it’s not just us here. We have nine casinos, 300 great restaurants and 20,000 hotel rooms. We all benefit from this.”
Blatstein, president of Tower Investments, has been particularly active on the non-gambling front in Atlantic City. He bought the Showboat, a former casino hotel, from Stockton University in 2016 and operated it as a non-gambling hotel. Since then he has added an indoor arcade and go-kart track there.
Another attempt at non-gambling attractions did not fare so well. Blatstein bought the former Pier Shops from Caesars Entertainment for $2.7 million and reopened it in 2015 as The Playground shopping and entertainment complex. But that project fizzled despite what Blatstein said was $52 million worth of investments, and he sold it back to Caesars five years later for an undisclosed price.
The project is the first in a long string of Atlantic City water park proposals to actually, well, hold water.
In April 2017, a local investment group led by investor Ronald Young signed a deal to buy the former Atlantic Club casino, announcing plans for a family-friendly hotel, anchored by an indoor water park. But when financing dried up, so did the water park plan.
In 2012, a group headed by developer Tom Sherwood proposed a sailboat-shaped hotel and water park project in the Marina District.
The Island Waterpark, built on a vacant lot between the Showboat and the Ocean Casino Resort, includes 11 slides, a 90-sq.-m. surf simulator, and a lazy river encircling much of the park. It also has a Kids’ Cove, 9-m.-tall) tree house that can be booked for private parties, cabanas, and an adults-only nightlife section.
Tickets range from US$69 to $119 p.p. depending on the time of year.
First published at Travel Industry Today