My family always enjoy spending time at water parks. We have been fortunate to visit quite a few over the years, but recently, at KeyLime Cove in Gurnee, Ill., we had an experience we've never had before: we went behind the scenes and saw how the water park works its magic. (Well, it's actually more like science than magic, but you know what I mean.)
The free tours – offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. – first became available last spring and have been becoming increasingly more popular ever since. There were about 20 people, including kids of all ages, on our tour.
The tour lasts about 25 minutes – the perfect amount of time for kids' attention spans – and starts in the water park but then moves into the pump room.
Chief engineer Robert Williams is the ecological expert at KeyLime Cove and the tour guide. He oversees a purification program to produce safe, swim-able water.
Williams is friendly and full of fun factoids.
The pH value of the water park's water, for example, is the same as a human teardrop. The water park uses 420,120 gallons of water per minutes. When dyed blond hair turns greenish in pools it's not because of the chlorine, rather the copper in the pipes.
He also lets the kids turn on the water valves – aka "turn on the water park" – for the day. This was a total crowd-pleaser.
Interestingly, KeyLime Cove uses ozone sanitation technology – and therefore less chlorine – to keep the water clean and clear. Ozone is 200 times stronger than chlorine but has no effect on skin or hair. Plus, ozone is a highly effective sanitizer against Cryptosporidium, E. coli and Salmonella.
"Ozone destroys 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, spores, fungus and mold," says Williams.
We found the tour added an educational element to our trip, which is always appreciated. It's important kids continue to ask the hows and whys of life otherwise they grow up to be grown up who don't ask the hows and whys of life.
Best of all, we found KeyLime Cove to be extremely convenient. It's contained in one building and yet still features five slides ranging in thrill level which will appeal to kids of all ages – as well as grown ups. And the short, 40-minute car ride from Milwaukee is gold.
Be sure to stop off at the Mars Cheese Castle on the way for interplanetary dining. Or at the very least, a bag of curds.
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