The answer to this questions depends on quite a few factors, including whether guests are permitted to bring their own tubes from home, if they are available for rent or included with admission, and if you have several attractions requiring tubes.
The More the Merrier Approach
For aquatic centers with typical pools, many operators allow guests to bring in their own tubes or flotation devices for pool fun. This reduces expenses when there is no need for the facility to purchase, maintain, inspect, or store them. The cons to this solution is that if you are more of a waterpark facility, tubes should be approved by your manufacturer to ensure the safety of riders. Because you have little control over the types, sizes and colors of the tubes, we recommend you do not allow anything other than coast-guard approved flotation devices in your facility.
Many medium-sized waterparks provide tubes for their guests included with admission. This approach allows you to control the types of flotation within your facility and ensure that the tubes are maintained and replaced at regular intervals. This is also helpful when you are operating a continuous river that often reaches capacity. Requiring guests to leave their tubes in the river can give you an accurate indication of when you reach capacity (i.e. When all the tubes are being used). Offering tubes only at the attractions where tubes are required (waterslides, river, or wave pools) also reduces the number of tubes who meet their untimely demise being used as an extra seat on the hot, abrasive concrete deck. The cons of this approach is that you must purchase, inspect, clean, and maintain the tubes yourself, which will add additional hours to your labor budget in addition to the expense of the tubes.
Rent Your Own Approach
Larger parks often offer a “rent your own tube” option for guests on the day of their admission. The positives to this approach are that guests feel like they can enter the attractions at their leisure without having to search for a coveted double tube or wait on the hot deck for an open river tube to float by. The tubes are typically numbered with the guest receiving a wristband with the correlating tube number to ensure they do not lose their tube to another guest throughout the day. The cons of this approach is that guests must haul their tubes to each attraction, you must have additional staff to check-in/out tubes and a process to handle damage to tubes. A complaint for guests is that they do not like carrying their tubes up to the top of the stairs on attractions. Some parks have addressed this concern by implementing a “tube valet” service where they place their tubes at the bottom of the tube lift and meet their tube at the top of the attraction. This is often offered as an add-on fee in addition to the tube rental fee.
If you do determine that you will provide tubes in your facility, whether as a part of admission or as a rental option, it is important to develop a tube maintenance program. This should include a log of when each tube was inspected and cleaned, as well as a process for retiring old/damaged tubes. Documenting the life of the tube assists in making decisions regarding budgeting for replacements, ensuring cleanliness of the tubes, and the ultimate safety of the guests.