De Panne, Belgium | September, 2015 - Indoor water parks have become increasingly popular across Europe in recent years, bringing year-round swimming to a region with never enough summer. While most European water parks sport soaring glass walls and palm trees, Belgium's Plopsaqua takes a somewhat different approach. Part of the popular Plopsaland De Panne theme park on the Belgian coast, Plopsaqua offers 4000 square meters (43,000 square feet) of enclosed subtropical environment, replete with 65ft Sky Drop, an interactive ‘disco slide,' and a storm pool with waves, thunder and lightning.
As Plopsaqua Project Manager Steve van Camp explains, "we didn't want to build a traditional indoor swimming pool. We opted for a closed construction, allowing us to implement and control special effects."
Designed by FACE and lighting designers Painting with Light, the storm pool is outfitted with 16 Renkus-Heinz CFX81 two-way compact loudspeaker systems, arrayed to create the illusion of a storm passing overhead. "The challenge was to create a genuine thunder storm, moving over the storm pool and exploding above the 15 x 15m rain-shower zone before softly fading away," explains Steven Kemland, FACE's project division manager. The system is driven by Powersoft amplification, processed by Media Matrix NION and programmed by a TiMax 2 SoundHub.
The CFX loudspeakers have been specially treated to resist the sub-tropical temperatures, high humidity and chlorine content in the enclosed environment, as have all rigging and peripheral components. "The speakers are covered with a special chemical finish, and so is every bolt and plug used in the rigging," says Kemland.
Despite their compact profile, Kemland says the CFX81 cabinets were the perfect choice for the project. "The CFX-81s are used to create the thunderstorm effect. Instead of steering the sound over individual speakers, the TiMax SoundHub uses the full configuration, creating a realistic surround effect of a tropical storm's movement." The system also serves as general PA system for safety or emergency messages.
Open only since March 2015, Plopsaqua has thus far exceeded all expectations, racking up more than 100,000 visitors in its first three months of operation. Steve van Camp concludes, "this project is the result of years of experience and a professional approach, making this thematic water park one of kind."