Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland will open Memorial Day 2013, and its general
manager pledged Thursday that safety and wholesome family fun are their
The giant, wooden pirate ship and a pavilion will be torn down so parents
can see where their children are at all times.
Surveillance cameras will be installed in the amusement area and parking
lot, and security staff will patrol both locations.
Engineers have evaluated the former Splash Down Dunes mechanical systems
planning for upgrades. Permits and licenses will be obtained, and prior
Porter zoning commitments including a turn lane at Waverly Road and U.S. 20
must be satisfied.
There’s a lot yet to be done, according to manager Matthew Phair, but the
Utah-based company is hoping for 3,000 to 4,000 patrons a day in the first
approximately 88-day season.
Eventually, park operators believe up to 10,000 patrons daily can be
accomodated on site six days a week. Seven Peaks will be closed on Sundays.
Marketing outreach throughout Northwest Indiana as well as Chicago is taking
place. Phair said Seven Peaks wants to bring visitors here for more than a
day-trip to boost the local economy, and let people know what’s in their own
He also indicated the waterpark wants to employ area contractors; hire 10 to
12 full-time staff and 300-350 local seasonal employees; and work in
cooperation with area restaurants and venues.
To that end Seven Peaks is promoting its Chicagoland Pass of All Passes
offering 12-month unlimited admission to the Duneland waterpark, and limited
admission to Chicago Wolves, South Shore Railcats, South Bend Silver Hawks,
Washington Park Zoo, Zao Island Fun Center, and a growing list of other
attractions including likely some in Chicago.
The introductory price of $19.95 per individual pass is good only until
year’s end using a school discount code. Seven Peaks will donate directly to
a participating area school $2 for each pre-purchased pass sold.
Seven Peaks director of school partnerships Derek Manning said the program
is in 11 Utah school districts involving 400,000 elementary students and one
school raised $14,000. “You’d think that would be something like we’d say,
‘Whoa, don’t go crazy’ but no, we encourage that.”
More than 40 persons --- some Seven Peaks neighbors in the Summertree
residential development --- were present for Phair’s presentation and Q&A
session last night.
Jack Garzella, president of the Summertree Homeowners Association, said he’s
familiar with Seven Peaks amusement centers in Utah. “They’re pristine, top
notch, very impressive.”
But those aren’t words to describe Splash Down Dunes, vacant since 2009.
Ten-year-old Sid Augustyn said the former owner didn’t take care of the park
very well, so how would Seven Peaks do things differently?
With the venue properly maintained, staffed and operated, said Manning,
Seven Peaks will transform Duneland’s waterpark and keep it a place people
want to visit.
Jack Olesker of Long Beach asked how the waterpark can inject money into the
local economy. Phair said Seven Peaks is working to explore partnerships
with about a dozen restaurants, with chambers of commerce including
Chesterton/Duneland, and with several area visitor centers.
Duneland School Board member Ralph Ayres, who also sits on the Burns Harbor
Redevelopment Commission, suggested working with the South Shore commuter
Porter Park Board member Patty Raffin asked if there were plans for future
development at the waterpark. Phair said there is space available for new
attractions as well as room to expand off the existing ride towers. Being
explored is a possible ice skating rink in winter.
Garzella told the Chesterton Tribune that Summertree residents want
the Seven Peaks parking lot paved and lighting installed. Phair said
initially the lot will be graveled and a tree buffer planted, later
blacktopped and a fence erected to the west. No decision’s been made whether
to charge for parking the first year.
Phair explained operating hours generally are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. but earlier
for pass holders and later for corporate/private parties with catering
options. Concerts may be scheduled but decibel levels will be monitored.
Food must be purchased at Seven Peaks and no alchohol is allowed.
Traditional amusement-park food as well as healthier menu items and juices
“It’s going to be a good push but we’re very excited about getting this up
and going for the community,” said Phair.
Commented one woman, “It already looks 300 percent better than it did."