The newly rebuilt Bunker Beach wave pool opens for the season Saturday in Coon Rapids, featuring heated water for the first time in its 33-year history.
But those who come to body surf, float on inner tubes and frolic in the water as 3-foot waves toss them to and fro probably won't need the extra warmth this weekend. The temperature on Saturday is expected to reach the 90s.
"I ordered a good forecast," said Jeff Perry, director of Anoka County Parks, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday. "This place will be buzzing with a lot of happy families."
The rebirth of the water park "will be a great day in Anoka County," said County Board Chairman Scott Schulte.
There is a lot to like about the new-look wave pool, on which the county spent $6.5 million over the past year after the original version began to show its age.
The new pool has four 150-horsepower motors capable of producing nine different wave patterns to give patrons "different experiences," said Cory Hinz, the county's Recreation Services manager.
The pattern featuring 3-foot roller waves to simulate an "Atlantic Ocean experience" will be used most of time, Perry said. Swimmers also will be hit with diagonal and reverse V-waves at selected times.
The remodel includes a 3,000-square-foot child-friendly lagoon with zero-depth entry, a new family restroom with more changing space, a new maintenance building, and an expanded and resurfaced parking lot.
The addition of heaters to keep the water at 80 degrees will be a welcome addition, Perry said.
"That was one of our top complaints," he said, noting that water in the wave pool was sometimes cool and typically registered the same temperature as local lakes.
Deteriorating infrastructure was the impetus for the makeover of the wave pool, the metro area's first when it opened in 1988.
Crews found it increasingly difficult to maintain the pool, and parts were hard to find when breakdowns occurred, Hinz said.
About 120,000 visitors come each summer to cool off at the pool in Bunker Hills Regional Park, with more than 3 million since its debut.
But after more than three decades it needed to be replaced, Perry said.
"We got our money out of the old wave pool," he said.
The pool was shut down last summer because of COVID-19, but the upside was that it gave contractors enough time to replace the old pool and finish their work to guarantee the splashy facility would be ready to open this weekend.
Besides the wave pool, the 10-acre site includes five areas to beat the heat, including several waterslides, a mega soaker, plunge pool and a lazy river.
With COVID restrictions lifted, the wave pool can accommodate up to 1,000 swimmers at a time, with up to 2,500 people allowed to be in the complex at a time.
Fees for the 2021 season will be $16 for visitors 4 feet or taller and $14 for those shorter than that. The pool will close for the season on Labor Day, Sept. 6.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768