2021 River Valley Water Park Revenue Exceeds Expenses

FORT SMITH — A water park that Sebastian County and Fort Smith jointly own managed to surpass its 19 pre-covid profit margins last year.

County Judge David Hudson told the county quorum court at its Feb. 22 meeting that Parrot Island Water Park recorded a net gain of $285,070 in 2021. This is due to the park recording more $1.8 million in revenue versus over $1.5 million in expenses. Parrot Island ended 2021 with a balance of $429,253.

Hudson said Thursday that the park’s revenue has exceeded expenses every year since it opened at 7300 Zero St. in 2015. The only exception was 2020 with the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, though the park remained open that that year.

Hudson believes the park’s success was greatly aided by Dallas-based American Resort Management, which did an “outstanding job” in operating and marketing the facility for the city and county.

“The Parrot Island facility has been planned and operated to support itself as much as possible,” Hudson said.

City Administrator Carl Geffken wrote in a memo to city managers on November 17, 2020 that the park generated just over $1 million in total revenue compared to more than $1.3 million. expenditures that year, resulting in a deficit of $297,973. Previously, in 2019, it generated a net gain of $77,527 with over $1.3 million in revenue against expenses of over $1.2 million.

Although Geffken wrote that the shortfall was made up by American Resort Management receiving $133,431 from the Paycheck Protection Program, city managers and justices of the peace each approved spending $119,771 to cover what was left. and fulfill a contractual requirement. Parrot Island has $75,000 at the end of the season for off-season working capital.

Geffken said Friday he believed the park’s success last year was the result of his management, as well as efforts to regularly review expenses and maximize revenue on the part of American Resort, Hudson and himself.

Richard Coleman, chief executive of American Resort, attributed the park’s surge in profits from 2019 to 2021 to a two-phase expansion during that time. There was also a “modest” increase in admission prices during this period, the first of its kind since the park opened.

“And we’ve had some really good wins with our sales and marketing efforts to attract attendees from even further afield than ever before,” Coleman said. “So Parrot Island, coming out of Covid, had a tremendous year of brand awareness and again with the new products that we were able to advertise it did exactly what it was supposed to do. “

Hudson said a surf attraction called FlowRider was added in 2019 while a new two-person tube slide, the O’Hana Highway, was introduced in 2021. Sebastian County and Fort Smith also shared the costs of new features.

Coleman said the park adhered to capacity restrictions stemming from covid-19 in 2020. It also faced a national trend around the time that many people were staying closer to home.

“Last year, when restrictions were lifted and people really wanted and wanted to get back to normal life, not only on Parrot Island, but all over the country, entertainment venues and entertainment venues had one of the best years ever because there was pent-up demand to be at facilities like ours,” Coleman said.

Drew Peterson, general manager of Parrot Island, said park attendance in 2021 ranged from 85,000 to 120,000 guests over 97 days of operation. Geffken’s memo from 2020 says 59,248 people visited the park that year, while 91,589 did so in 2019.

Geffken on Friday described Parrot Island as a “great gem” not just for Fort Smith, Sebastian County and the River Valley, but beyond. He said the park’s safe opening in 2020 helped him attract people from as far away as Kansas and Texas.

Parrot Island will open May 14 for the 2022 season, according to the park’s website. Coleman said American Resort is planning to add more entertainment and other things to the park to keep families engaged this year, though details aren’t ready to be announced yet.

Parrot Island’s budget for this year includes more than $2.1 million in projected revenue against expenses of more than $1.9 million, leaving a surplus of $205,188, according to Hudson.

Bradley Martin, maintenance supervisor, pressure washes a swimming pool Friday, March 4, 2022 at Parrot Island Water Park in Fort Smith. The park, which Sebastian County and the city of Fort Smith jointly own, made a net profit of $285,070 in 2021, according to County Judge David Hudson. Visit nwaonline.com/220306Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

Park Features

Parrot Island attractions include five waterslides, the FlowRider surf ride, wave pool, children’s pool and play structure, activity pool, and lazy river.

Source: Parrot Island website

Sallie R. Loera