SUN-N-FUN LA­GOON

Freshly up­dated, ev­ery­body into the pool

RSWLiving - - CONTENTS - BY JA­COB OGLES

Freshly up­dated, ev­ery­body into the pool

As­in­gle mom, Katie Bon­ner is al­ways on the hunt for week­end ac­tiv­i­ties with her 7-year-old son, An­thony. The fam­ily from Fort My­ers has been to all the wa­ter­parks in South Florida, she says, but had re­cently dis­cov­ered Sun-N-Fun La­goon in Naples.

She rel­ished mo­ments in Fam­ily Falls, an ex­pan­sive 4-foot­deep pool lined with run­ning wa­ter­falls. Mean­while, An­thony would ride all the park slides from the Sting Ray to the Sea Lion, then jump back in line and slide down again, his mom

says. “My son did all of the slides many times,” Bon­ner says, “be­cause there were barely any lines! At other wa­ter­parks, he would have to sit in the hot sun, wait­ing in line. We are so grate­ful to have Sun-N-Fun so close to home, and can­not wait to re­turn in the sum­mer.”

The wa­ter­park, a fa­cil­ity owned and op­er­ated by the Col­lier County Parks and Re­cre­ation Depart­ment, pro­vides a respite from the un­pre­dictable ocean tides, with at­trac­tions geared to ev­ery age. Af­ter clos­ing for much of the win­ter, the wa­ter­park

opened its gates again for week­ends start­ing in Fe­bru­ary, and it is open seven days a week June through Au­gust.

Even in a re­gion known for its beaches and re­sorts, tourism lead­ers in the area say Sun-N-Fun La­goon re­mains pop­u­lar both with vis­i­tors bring­ing fam­i­lies to the area and with res­i­dents looking for a cost-conscious the­mepark ex­pe­ri­ence closer to home. “It’s a won­der­ful attraction for us to have here,” says Lori Wad­dell at the Greater Naples Cham­ber of Com­merce Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter. “It’s safe, it’s clear. You can see other kids in there learn­ing to swim. Plus, ev­ery kid loves just jump­ing in the pool.”

County of­fi­cials prom­ise the park will feel fresher, thanks to some im­por­tant if not ex­trav­a­gant re­fur­bish­ments done in the off­sea­son. Vis­i­tors may not see enor­mous dif­fer­ences when they turn to the wa­ter­slides―be­sides the deeper shade of blue that came with re­plac­ing or main­tain­ing much of the tub­ing this win­ter―but they will cer­tainly feel the im­prove­ment step­ping foot in Sunny’s River attraction, the 1,250-feet dual-path lazy river attraction. New tiling and a repaved floor sur­face should leave fewer park­go­ers checking for scrapes. “It should be more com­fort­able on our pa­trons' feet,” says Richard DeGalan, aquatic su­per­vi­sor for the Col­lier County Parks and Re­cre­ation Depart­ment.

Sun-N-Fun La­goon holds five sin­gle-rider wa­ter­slides, each four sto­ries high and run­ning 220 to 350 feet. The most pop­u­lar, the Sea Lion, plum­mets di­rectly into the lazy river. For younger guests not yet 48 inches tall, there’s the Tur­tle Cove wa­ter play­ground attraction, open to kids ages 5 through 12. For the

Sun-N-Fun La­goon holds five sin­glerider wa­ter­slides, each four sto­ries high and run­ning 220 to 350 feet.

swim-di­a­per set, there’s the Tad­pole Pool, 18 inches deep at its low­est spot with an ageap­pro­pri­ate wa­ter­slide.

Wad­dell notes Sun-N-Fun La­goon sits next to pub­lic fields and is ad­ja­cent to the Golisano Chil­dren’s Mu­seum of Naples, so the park can com­plete a day spent out­doors. Of­fi­cials ex­pect some 600 chil­dren to en­roll in swim lessons this sum­mer at the park, and those seek­ing life­guard cer­ti­fi­ca­tions can also be trained there. Se­nior wa­ter aerobics classes and other pro­grams will be of­fered, turn­ing a tourist attraction into a pub­lic amenity.

About 100,000 guests passed through the Sun-N-Fun La­goon ticket booths last year, though DeGalan notes an­other 20,000 or so came for pri­vate party or evening events. And while tourists make up most of the folks in the wa­ter dur­ing sum­mer­time, res­i­dents through Septem­ber will be able to en­joy the park on week­ends. The venue also opens for a week dur­ing the Christmas sea­son. The park boasts a low en­try cost, as well―$6 for guests shorter than 48 inches, $13 oth­er­wise. Those of us 60 and up pay $9; chil­dren age 3 and younger are free. There is also a $2 dis­count for Col­lier County res­i­dents.

Katie Bon­ner will cer­tainly re­turn, tes­ti­fy­ing that Sun-N-Fun La­goon pro­vides a respite from mega-at­trac­tions in Mi­ami and Or­lando. “It is not a very large park, which I find con­ve­nient,” she says. “You can sit in a comfy shaded seat and be able to keep an eye on your kids.

“There were so many dif­fer­ent things for us to do, we didn’t want to leave.”

There were so many dif­fer­ent things for us to do, we didn’t want to leave.” —Katie Bon­ner, on vis­it­ing Sun-N-Fun La­goon

Sun- N- Fun La­goon is a mil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter­slides, lazy rivers, falls, pools, tad­pole fea­tures, lap lanes and di­ve­boards, a bit of some­thing for every­one.

Even in a re­gion known for its beaches and re­sorts, Sun- N- Fun La­goon re­mains pop­u­lar both with vis­i­tors and with res­i­dents looking for a cost- conscious the­mepark. Group rates and rentals are avail­able.

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