For some, summer fun is going to cost a little bit more this year.
Rates for daily entrance to SomerSplash Waterpark will be going up $2 this summer, but season passes will stay the same price.
Somerset City Council voted Monday night to raise the price of four types of admission prices. Daily Ride-N-Slide tickets, which include access to everything within the park, are now $16,95, up from $14.95. Full access passes bought after 4 p.m. are now $9.50, up from $7.50.
Half-Splash tickets, which are for guests who don’t want to tackle the tall slides, are increasing to $14.95, up from $12.95. After 4 p.m. passes are $8.50, up from $6.50.
This is the first time since the water park opened that ticket prices have increased, said Somerset budget director Jimmy Hogg.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler explained that the increase was needed because the city’s garbage dumpster program is experiencing more costs. “Our landfill costs are going up so high. We need to be looking at generating revenue if we want to put in new rides,” he said.
Revenue for the dumpster program was linked with the budget for the water park when the park first opened. “Profits on the dumpsters used to pay all the department services, plus a little bit extra,” Hogg said, “but profits have gone down, so we needed to raise the water park prices to offset the difference.”
The council focused on daily admission prices while leaving season passes at the same price. This was because tourists are the main consumers of daily passes, while locals opt for season passes, Hogg said.
Season passes cost $49.95 until March 31. From April 1 to May 15, passes will cost $59.95. After May 15, the price of a season pass rises to $69.95.
Council members hope that more revenue means more attractions can be added in the future. It was pointed out during the meeting that the year new attractions were added to the park, total attendance was around 97,000. However, last year, total attendance had dipped to somewhere between 80,000 and 85,000.
Council member Jerry Wheeldon said that new attractions were key in keeping tourists interested. He was concerned that the attendance had dropped specifically because the “‘new’ wears off” of older rides.
Although no firm plans have been made, Girdler said that several options are being looked at for adding to the park, including adding winter attractions such as an ice skating rink or snow tubing.
Because the idea of raising rates was meant to focus on out-of-town visitors rather than put an extra burden on the wallets of local families, council member Mike New added that he also wanted to see the park opened for free a couple of nights each month so that local children of low-income families could enjoy the park.
The council unanimously voted to authorize SomerSplash General Manager Stephen Sims to work out a plan for opening the park for free on a periodic basis throughout the summer for local school children.