Bong slide! Our top five ideas for Aurora's Gaylord Rockies Hotel water park
Last week, the Houston-based company that plans to develop an 85-acre, 1,500-room hotel and convention center in Aurora, near Denver International Airport, revealed that it would like to add a gigantic, $25 million indoor-outdoor water park to the project.
RIDA Development Corporation, which took the project over from Gaylord Entertainment in March 2013, said the park would include several pools, two water slides, a lazy river and simulated hot springs.
But we've got some better ideas.
The water park would presumably make it easier to finance the Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Conference Center, which is estimated to cost $800 to $850 million.
Of course, the plan could be all wet: Although the state has offered to help RIDA out with $81.4 million in incentives, a group of Denver hoteliers has challenged that award and is suing the state agency that agreed to give them. They're also concerned that the water park would only be open to hotel guests and not the state's taxpayers.
With that in mind, here are our top five for themes and rides at the water park that could be used to draw not just hotel guests, but locals, too.
The National Western Stock Show & Dolphin Rodeo Back in 2011, before RIDA took over the Gaylord, the Stock Show and Aurora investigated the very real possibility of moving the yards and the events next door to the project. That didn't pan out (or hasn't yet, anyway), but that doesn't mean the Stock Show couldn't get some traction by lending its name to the water park, specifically as part of a dolphin rodeo. This enclosed aquarium-like environment would replicate the conditions of Florida and Hawaii, which already have attractions where kids can swim with the dolphins, but add an additional rodeo-like element. You've heard of mutton bustin', where kids ride lambs until they fall off? At the Dolphin Rodeo, the young ones can mount up these water mammals and see who can hold on the longest. Git along! Number 4:
Pit Bull Swimming Park Denver typically opens up its recreational swimming pools to dogs and their owners on the last day of summer hours each year, but Aurora could outdo its big brother, not just by asking RIDA to create a water park for dogs all summer long, but to design it specifically for pit bulls. But isn't that breed banned in Aurora? Yes, for now, but the city council is currently considering a repeal on the eight-year ban -- and what better way to welcome back the breed? Continue to keep counting down our top five ideas for Aurora's Gaylord Rockies Hotel water park. Number 3:
Science Fiction Land 2 This isn't the first time a would-be developer has proposed that a giant amusement park be constructed in Denver's largest neighbor to the east, so why not pay tribute to the city's history by honoring the last one? In 1979, a man named Barry Ira Geller proposed a $400 million theme park called Science Fiction Land that would be based on an adaptation he'd written for Lord of Light, a 1967 sci-fi novel by Roger Zelazny. The place was going to be three times the size of Disneyland, with a 38-story Ferris wheel, a holographic zoo, a 1,000-lane bowling alley attended by robots, security guards equipped with jetpacks, a heated dome, and fourteen Vegas-style dinner theaters. The project collapsed amid corruption allegations before it even got started, but that doesn't mean Gaylord couldn't work a few robots into its plans: Three cheers for robotic cabana boys! Number 2:
South Platte Prairie Dog Ride Colorado loves its wildlife. Well, some of its wildlife, anyway. While much is made of bison, bald eagles and bighorn sheep, one of the state's most populous critters, the prairie dog, is considered more of a scourge and is eradicated as often as possible. But RIDA could solve two problems at once by allowing municipalities to relocate prairie dogs to an ecosystem-themed water ride. Guests of all ages, along with local school groups, could float down an approximation of the South Platte, through prairie dog villages studded with raptor poles. The hawks would control the population while kids on inner tubes watch from the safety of the water. They'd have fun and learn how nature works, too. So cute! Continue to keep counting down our top five ideas for Aurora's Gaylord Rockies Hotel water park. Number 1:
Water Bong Slides Aurora may have a temporary moratorium on recreational pot shops, but that doesn't mean the Gaylord couldn't become the first hotel and conference center to design an amenity to appeal specifically to the marijuana-minded traveler. Their project already calls for a "lazy" river. Why not build two and call them the Sativa Stream and Indica Creek -- and model the water slides to look like massive water bongs?
More from our Business archive: "Photos: Six most expensive homes for sale in Denver, winter 2014 edition."
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