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Theme Ships Ahoy
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Theme Ships Ahoy

Given that ships and shipwrecks are inherently tied to water, it only makes sense that interactive, ship-themed splashpad water features are a natural fit, for ocean enthusiasts and landlopers alike. Here’s a look inside the popular interactive-fountain genre.

By Chris Thomas

Ship-themed splash pad features have become remarkably popular for several compelling reasons.

Firstly, they ignite imaginative play among children, inviting them to embark on adventures as sailors, pirates, or explorers. The allure of navigating the high seas or discovering hidden treasures captivates their sense of exploration and wonder, inviting daydreaming and fantasy-based frolicking.

These nautically inspired splash pads often incorporate interactive elements like water cannons, sprays, and tipping buckets, providing sensory stimulation, and engaging children in active play as they fantasize about adventures in guise of sea captains or pirates.

Secondly, ship themes carry broad age-range appeal; younger children can enjoy simpler activities like steering the ship’s wheel, while older kids can participate in more complex games and imaginary scenarios.

Additionally, these features offer educational value by introducing children to maritime history, geography, and ocean life in a playful way. Added altogether and ship-themed play features represent a dynamic and widely appealing form of interactive water play.

This engaging feature, from our Fun Forms line is known as the Pirate Ship Aqua Slide, is installed at Oak Ridge Splash Park in Balch Springs, TX. Suitable for splash pads with no standing water, or up to six inches of water for shallow pool applications, this slide also makes a nice centerpiece for the aquatic play space.


Visually striking and aesthetically pleasing, ship-themed splash pads attract both children and parents, fostering a sense of community connection and nostalgia for maritime traditions. That’s why these splash pad features stand as a favorite among families, combining imaginative play, interactive features, educational value, and visual appeal.

Yes, design motifs such as ships, pirate ships, and shipwrecks can indeed go in and out of style, much like any other design trend. As cultural tastes, preferences, and influences evolve, certain motifs may become more or less popular over time. For example, there may be periods where ship-themed designs experience a surge in popularity due to influences from popular media, such as movies, television shows, or books centered around maritime adventures.

Ultimately, many of these motifs are driven by the city or municipality that collects feedback and direction from their community. As gathering places, ship-themed splash pads add value, fun and appeal to public spaces.

In our work designing and manufacturing these features, we have seen ships, pirate ships in particular, are among the most popular features when there is a theme. Trains are a very close behind. A theme can largely depend on budget, location, and the vision of the community.

Since theming is our specialty, we tend to see more projects with specific requests for themes like pirate ships and ship wrecks. That said, we typically design with a mix of themed and non-themed features to create a variety of spray effects, textures, and shapes to maximize play value.

This fun slide is located at the Trophy Club Community Pool and Splash Pad in Trophy Club, TX. The slide is designed for ages two-to-five years old, and makes a good retrofit option for replacing old features. All it needs is a water supply line stub up.

Our ship features are generally based on shipwrecks, such as our pirate ship, broken boat slide, submarine sprayer and sunken dingy. We can also create scaled replicas of historical ships if so desired.

We include water slides, water cannons as requested for heightened interactivity. In many cases, we include spray effects in different locations of the features, such as our pirate ship, so that patrons have multiple places to play and interact.


They are typically made with a carved, hard foam core and coated with our trademarked material, Aqua Armor, a durable, vandal and UV resistant polymer coating. Some custom structures may include stainless steel, fiberglass slides, and themed decorative concrete.

We have mechanical engineers, experienced hydraulic designers, and the collective knowledge from being in the water feature industry since 1987, to design our equipment.  Because of these custom capabilities, we can provide customized spray features that align with the customer’s vision.

In some cases, the feature may require custom controls to operate for the desired intent. We try to minimize the need for custom controls as this can have a significant effect on the budget and long-term maintenance.

Installed at Windjammer Park, a 28.5-acre waterfront park located in the picturesque town of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in Washington State, the feature is made of glass-fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC). Water Odyssey was able to create the natural look of a shipwreck that has long been abandoned and now a part of the surrounding natural beauty. The structure is quite impressive as the mast height is 18-feet high and has over 237 gallons of water flowing throughout the splash play area. The splash pad looks like a shipwreck washed up from the shore onto the land long ago and now sea-life, rocks and driftwood surround the wreck and water surfaces throughout the play structure. 

The ideal situation is to keep it simple and only utilize the standard controls required for the entire project. Some things to consider are electrical service availability, water supply line size and availability, location, will the splash play area be powered by a flow-through or recirculation system, will there need to be supervision for safety purposes, etc.

These features are now found across a variety of settings. Not only do we see them located near waterfronts, but we also see them located in water parks and municipal splash pads that are not near any large bodies of water.

We typically only see these types of features in commercial applications such as municipal splash parks, water parks, and theme parks; though, we have had requests from residences. Due to the budget required to include these features, they better serve the commercial and public sectors.

Chris Thomas is Director of Marketing for Water Odyssey, San Marcos, TX, a leader in the design and manufacture of commercial aquatic play equipment for splash pads, water parks, theme parks and aquatic centers.

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