In our second case study, we take a look at Mont Saint-Sauveur in Canada. This very early skiing mountain became a four season destination with the help of a water park and other attractions and made the company very competitive.
This skiing resort was among the first to open in Quebec back in 1934 when the first lift hill installed. Throughout the years, the infrastructure updated, and in 1970, the land that was then owned by multiple families consolidated into a brand new company that would dedicate themselves to running the skiing area and expands when opportunities presented themselves.
All skiing mountains faced the same issue: no large scale source of revenues in the summer. Many mountains offered things like mountain biking, hiking, and activities among those lines, but those were not wide scaled and the summer months were still a severe drain on company’s bottom line.
The skiing slopes in the summer.
The park add those fences so that guests don’t try to go hiking in off-limit areas.
In 1986, Louis Dufour, president of Mont Saint-Sauveur international had a great idea: what if we used the beautiful mountain terrain to build a water park? By installing the slides in the forest that split the various slopes, you are not disrupting the skiing operation. As for the multiple pools, they found a novel way to integrate them into the slopes by emptying them in the fall and then installing large blocks of foam in them. Add some snow, and voila, your winter crowd won’t even know the bottom of the slope may be the wave pool or a lazy river. In the spring, once the snow is gone, it is a matter of removing the blocks and filling up the attractions with water.
Phase 1 of the “Parc Aquatique du Mont Saint-Sauveur (Mont Saint-Sauveur Water Park) was composed of an early Wave Pool, some children slides, and the two rivers. Those were impressive 20+ minute water chute attractions where riders had to ride the chairlift up the mountain and get off quite high in the air. Then, they grabbed a tube and proceeded to go down the mountain by way of 40 pools, each connected by a gunite slide.
La Piscine a Vague (Wave Pool)
Last section of one of the river.
Large tubes and a rafting helmet are mandatory to experience the Rivers.
As you can see, the size of the drops between the pool varies.
Another river section.
It was an excellent selection for the first year, but it was not exactly the hoped for success. One factor that did not help was the fact the park was only open for a short 30 days window. For year 2, the water park expanded and it was the start of a legendary company: Proslide Technologies Inc. Rick Hunter stepped into the industry by accident in 1980 and by 1986; he joined with a shipbuilder from Hudson, QC called Hans Tanzer to form Proslide Technologies. In November that year, Andreas Tanzer left another yachting company (C&C Yacht) to join Rick and Hans on the engineering side and together, they created eight new slides for the Parc Aquatique. Two of them were flat bottom speed slides called “Les Turbo” to the left of the Rivers and four were winding body slides (Les Spirales) down the hill, to the right of the Rivers. The last two were children slides and scaled down versions of Les Spirales.
The two original children slide from Proslide.
Les Spirales, Proslide first ever water slide attraction. All four are still in operation, but the park now allow guests to ride down a mat, making it a much thrilling attraction than before.
A look at how tight and interwined the four Spirales were built.
The splashdown pool for Les Spirales.
Rick Hunter fantastic ideas, Andreas Tanzer engineering skill and Hans Tanzer experience with fiberglass were exactly what the fledgling park needed. It brought the crowds in and gave Proslide the boost and credibility required to establish a foothold in the industry. Things worked out so well Proslide was soon given the contract to design and build the fiberglass slides at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park in Florida that opened in 1989.
Humanga Kuwabunga at Typhoon Lagoon, three Proslide Freefall attractions.
In 1989, the Parc Aquatique introduced a brand new winding Lazy River near the main skiing lodge, and construction soon started on a unique attraction: La Riviere Colorado (Colorado River). The idea was to bring white water rafting to the waterpark and to this end, they cleared a path through the trees in a new water park area. They poured a long cement path and various pumps and obstacles installed throughout the river. Last, they designed a brand new raft where two riders sit face to face and have to hold on to handles.
Aqua-Balade, the park first lazy river attraction.
The ending stretch of the Colorado. Notice how agressive and impressive the white-water rapids are.
One of the many steep drop on the Colorado.
The result is the closest thing water park visitors will ever come to authentic white water river rafting. The raft goes through the same motions, going under water, rocket out of the water at another point in the descent, have variable speeds. This legendary attraction helped bring the water park immense success and is still the cornerstone of the park.
Here, we see two riders going down the river.
The ride is nearly 3 minutes long and feature a huge height difference.
In the mid-1990’s, the park innovated with La Manic, a brand new style of river attraction. This river has a zero entry beach entry area and riders than grab a tube. You start floating along like you are on your usual lazy river attraction… But you get to a point where a large quantity of water is dumped into the river from a height. This was one of the first “Torrent River” in the world, and this wonderful attraction came from Murphys Waves, the renowned wave pool builder. The large quantity of water creates a massive wave and the circular shape, and high walls take the wave all the way around before it breaks on the beach. It is a fantastic attraction, and the name is very appropriate, as the Manic is short for Manicouagan, the fifth largest water reservoir in the world and is itself a round lake in northern Quebec.
The entrance to the Manic. The path went through a construction area at the time we shot the picture due to the Mini-Golf construction.
One of the wave going around the river.
What the river look like when its empty.
One interesting feature is that the Manic offer two distinct experiences: the low tide is accessible to guests under 47 inches provided they wear a life preserver and go with an adult. Eventually, the high tide comes, and the wave height is nearly double! To that end, guests under 55 inches are not allowed on the river even with their parents. The river is much more aggressive and the experience a lot more intense.
The park expanded in 2002 with the Niagara, a long semi-enclosed Proslide Pipeline tube slide. It was built in the forest along the path to the Colorado, and that corner of the park now offered two great attractions.
The view from the top of the Niagara.
The slide is divided into three sections with a drop in between each.
Another of the drop.
The slide was built in the forest.
In 2004, the park modified the left corner of the Wave Pool with “Le Baril” (The Barrel), a tipping bucket structure. It is a smaller version of the usual Treehouse as it’s composed of climbing nets and a few water play features.
Le Baril. The sign refers to the powerful drop of water.
A look at how the Baril was integrated in the Wave Pool.
Le Baril dumping its water.
After the 2005 season, Les Turbo was retired. Their premium location in the middle of the park immediately filled in 2006 with the two rivers: La Riviere Rouge (Red River) and La Riviere du Nord (North River). The name come from two well-known rivers in the area and to expand the family slide selection and to improve capacity, a pair of custom Proslide Pipeline was selected and installed.
Riviere Rouge and Riviere du Nord.
Another look at both slides.
In December 2009, one of the first Wiegand Alpine Coaster in North America was built at Mont St-Sauveur. Named the Viking, this was built in the forest that separate two skiing slopes and the station constructed between the Wave Pool and La Manic. This attraction can operate year-round and was the first step taken to expand the short water park season.
The Viking beautiful station and ending of the ride.
The lift hill with a car on it.
After the 2009 season, MSSI, the owner of Mont Saint-Sauveur decided to close down a sister water park, Les Cascades d’Eau de Piedmont. This hillside water park had a fantastic location next to the highway and was only a few minutes away from Mont Saint-Sauveur. The site had been purchased by MSSI in 1999, but even after modernizing the park with four new slides, the park still struggled to attract more than youth groups. Cascades d’Eau was a park every summer camp group in the area went to, but after that, families and everyone else moved to other facilities in the area.
Cascades d’Eau de Piedmont.
The park featured a unique log flume like rafting ride with a steep drop at the start.
A raft going through the course.
La Meteore was the blue slide on the right. Two Proslide Multi Bump slides had been replaced by the two steep Pipeline slides on the left.
A closer look. The elevated path lead to a mini-golf and the Rafting attraction.
The blue and green slide is a KIDZ Pipeline and was one of the four new slides.
The large blue and green slide at the top was the Blizzard, a Proslide Pipeline installed during the renewal phase.
The ending of the Blizzard. It was a good move as you can see it attracted many adults, but it was too little, too late sadly.
MSSI plan then was to expand the park and make it a dual use water park-amusement park with a wooden coaster as the flagship attraction. The Thunder Eagle in Pigeon Forge, TN had seen little use after its owner shut down the park in 2001. It was purchased and carefully dismantled by Martin & Vleminckx, the original builder of the ride. The components were then brought over to Piedmont, QC and the park filed for the building permits.
Part of the wooden structure of Thunder Eagle.
Unfortunately, the city rejected the plans and invoked a bylaw that banned construction over a certain level. La Meteore, a closed Proslide Freefall slide, was as tall as the proposed wooden roller coaster, but it had was grandfathered in before. MSSI and the city fought in court for years, but eventually, MSSI decided to move on to other projects and closed down the park. The four new slides were carefully dismantled and moved to Mont Saint-Sauveur. The rest of the slides was at the end of its life and scrapped. The wooden coaster was eventually used by Martin & Vleminckx to construct the new Zippin Pippin in Green Bay, WI.
So in 2010, the two most dramatic slides from Les Cascades d’eau were reinstalled at the Parc Aquatique. The new name was “Les Torrents” (which describe a high-speed and aggressive section of a river) and new supports built to conform to its great new mountain site above la Manic.
Les Torrents in their new home. As you can see, the tall steel supports were discarded and replaced by a low to the ground course.
The ProSplash run out course was built over part of the Manic.
There was always a large empty area in the summer between the wave pool and la Manic. It was already made vibrant with the Viking Alpine Coaster, and in 2012, the dry attraction side definitely expanded with four new attractions and the area named the F.U.N. Parc. A Soaring Eagle Zipline was chosen as the headliner and called the Dragon. It soars above the Viking and the F.U.N. Parc before cutting through the trees. The drop is very impressive, and the station doubles as the main ticket counter on the bottom level.
The Dragon loading platform and themed vehicle.
The Dragon high above the ground.
It is quite a thrilling attraction since riders are only restrained with a seatbelt.
Three family attractions from Zamperla were selected and installed around the Dragon station:
La Ruche is a set of Midi Tea Cups with a beehive theme.
Les Barons Rouges is a modern version of the classic Red Barons kid ride.
L’Arbre Geant is a Jumpin’ Star with a tree theme.
In 2014, Le Sonic joined the F.U.N. Parc and is a very colorful Zamperla Kite Flyer.
Le Sonic in mid-flight.
In 2015, the third Cascades d’Eau slide was expanded by Proslide and installed in the area above the Wave Pool. The Blizzard is now longer and taller and still has the same blue and green, vibrant colors it had in Piedmont.
Blizzard at the Parc Aquatique.
An overview of the Blizzard.
The Blizzard received brand new supports in addition to a flume expansion.
In 2016, the water park decided to use the Manic island for a new large mini-golf. Combined with the Viking Alpine Coaster and the F.U.N. Parc, this helps make the park even more of a three season destination.
The last addition to the park is the Frisson (Chill), the last Piedmont water slide that was in storage. It is a Proslide Kidz Pipeline and helped rejuvenate the children area of the Parc Aquatique.
Les Sommets provided us with this photo by Alain Denis of the Frisson grand opening. Parc Aquatique