Refurbished Killens Pond Water Park unveiled

Cutting the ribbon Wednesday at Killens Pond Water Park, from left, are Sen. Dave Lawson, Lake Forest School Superintendant Dr. Brenda Wynder, Gov. Jack Markell (watching waterslider), Rep. Tim Dukes, Sen. Gary Simpson, Rep. Bobby Outten, and DENREC Secretary David Small. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Cutting the ribbon Wednesday at Killens Pond Water Park, from left, are Sen. Dave Lawson, Lake Forest School Superintendent Dr. Brenda Wynder, Gov. Jack Markell (watching waterslider), Rep. Tim Dukes, Sen. Gary Simpson, Rep. Bobby Outten, and DNREC Secretary David Small. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

FELTON — The bolts have been screwed into the tubing, the ceremonial ribbon has been cut by Gov. Jack Markell and other dignitaries, and everything appears to be just about downstream from here for the refurbished Killens Pond Water Park.

Officials from Killens Pond State Park and the Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control unveiled the park’s four new brightly colored water slides that jut out from high atop a 54-foot platform on Wednesday morning, luring both adults and children alike to give them a try.

State Sen. David Lawson, R-Marydel, takes the plunge on the 50 foot slide at newly rehabbed Killens Pond State Park Water Park on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

State Sen. David Lawson, R-Marydel, takes the plunge on the 50 foot slide at newly rehabbed Killens Pond State Park Water Park on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The waterpark will be closed to the public today as final preparations are made to the slides before the arrival of the busy Fourth of July weekend. The waterpark will re-open at 11 a.m. Friday.

The new slides — two of which are speed slides while the other two are the traditional twisting body slides that empty in a pool below — are a part of $3.7 million in improvements in the first phase of what the park anticipates to be four phases.

“Basically, we’re bringing back the fun … and the ‘Wow!’ factor,” said Darren Lawson, park superintendent at Killens Pond.

Donyee Smith, 16, a park lifeguard who will be a senior at Lake Forest High School this fall, took the first ride down one of the speed slides just as the ribbon was being cut at the bottom of the new platform.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s real fast. I had a chance to look down it when I was going down and I could feel how fast I was going. People are going to love this.”

That is exactly the kinds of words that officials want to hear.

The waterpark enjoyed huge crowds of 75,000 to 100,000 each summer from 1996 to 2007, but started to experience a dropoff over the past decade.

Gov. Markell said he believes the enhancements will bring the crowds back. The park hopes to attract as many as 110,000 people this summer.

“The improvements at the Killens Pond State Park waterpark enhance what is already a great Delaware destination, making it even more attractive to families and anyone who lives, works or visits here,” said Gov. Markell. “This project is an investment that will bring more visitors to the state, support the economy and provide families with a fun, safe and healthy option to get outside and enjoy nature.”

It marks the first time the park has undergone a renovation other than regular maintenance and upkeep since its

The new waterslides at Killens Pond Water Park.

The new waterslides at Killens Pond Water Park.

opening 20 years ago.

Other improvements in Phase I include an enhanced entry into the waterpark with colorful canopies, an enlarged queuing area to provide shade for customers waiting to enter the park and additional ticket booths to speed the ticketing process.

Accessibility improvements have been completed at the bathhouse, which also received fresh coats of paint, and a new building to house the water filtration system that supports the slide complex and will assist future improvements.

“The upgrades to the waterpark are the latest in a number of major improvements to the amenities and infrastructure that make our state parks such exceptional places to enjoy the outdoors in Delaware,” said DNREC Secretary David Small.

“We are grateful for the support of (Gov.) Markell, our General Assembly, our Friends organizations and most importantly, our park visitors who understand the value of our parks and their contributions to our quality of life. The new slides and improvements will help maintain Killens Pond State Park as a premier destination in Kent County.”

Some of the future attractions the park hopes to add are a water spray facility and birthday party pavilions.

“Hopefully, when it comes to making improvements to the water park, we’re just getting started,” Mr. Lawson said.

Lifeguards line up for a team photo at the new Killens Pond Water Park on Wednesday.

Lifeguards line up for a team photo at the new Killens Pond Water Park on Wednesday.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.