With school back in session, Sun Splash Family Waterpark is shifting to its weekend schedule.
On Thursday, the park changed its hours of operation to Saturday and Sunday only until the season ends on Sept. 29. Visitors can continue to enjoy the grounds from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days.
Sun Splash will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 2 to round out the Labor Day holiday weekend, and the last Family Fun Night of the 2013 season is scheduled for Saturday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Family Fun Nights feature music, food specials, chance to meet Swish the Fish and prize drawings. Admission is $7 plus tax for Cape residents, $9 for non-residents and $3 for daytime visitors who want to return to the park for the evening festivities; season pass holders are free. Parking is not included.
Park Manager Sandy Greiner reported Thursday that it has been a successful season overall.
"Any time that you can do, bottom line, better than the year before, than it's a success," she said.
As of July 30, attendance and revenue were down compared to 2012, but savings were up. There were 83,873 visitors compared to 90,024 during the same period last season - about 6,000 fewer people.
Greiner credited the lower figure to a cold Spring Break and a three-day closing at the park.
"I attribute it to Spring Break, mainly," she said. "That equals almost 6,000 right there."
"We might still catch up on that," Greiner added.
In 2012, Sun Splash earned about $1.8 million in revenue. The park is $60,000 behind this year.
"It's not all about the revenue here. It's also about how well we're controlling the expenses," she said.
Compared to last season, Sun Splash has cut expenses by approximately $125,000. The largest chunk of savings - about $100,000 - is attributed to the park's payroll and appropriate staffing levels.
"We analyzed every position," Greiner said. "When we needed them, if we needed them."
A watchful eye on spending has also helped to chip away at the total cost of expenses. Discounts are used when placing orders, when possible, and three different vendors means competitive pricing.
"Whoever gives us the best price, that's who we're going to use," she said.
In term of visitors, Sun Splash has so far attracted more non-residents this season over previous years.
Greiner explained that advertising in markets outside of Cape Coral has led Fort Myers Beach visitors and others to the park's doorstep. She called Sun Splash the largest water park in Southwest Florida.
"People come down here and are looking for something to do, why not spend their dollars with us?" Greiner asked. "They are just really really happy with the water park."
Aqua Theatre Nights have been growing in popularity. An estimated 1,000 people turned out for the last one of the season on July 26. She noted that an Aqua Theatre Night typical draws 500 to 600.
"So that was really really good," Greiner said.
"More people are saying, 'I really enjoy being in there at night. It's not as hot,'" she said. "It's a discounted rate, as well - I really think it's a combination of everything."
Sun Splash is currently working on its off-season plans to refurbish the Tot Spot.
"We're totally demolishing it and starting it new," Greiner said.
The current features date back to the park's opening.
"It's the original," she said.
The park has a budget of about $300,000 for what will be an "interactive playground."
The work should be complete by the start of the 2014 season.
"I really want people to start looking ahead to next year," Greiner said.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark has more than 14 acres of wet and dry attractions including three speed slides, a Lazy River, Tot Spot for small children, family pool, and open and enclosed water flumes.
For more information, visit online at: www.SunSplashWaterpark.com.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd.