The godfather of water parks passes away

Richard Croul was an inspiration to Southern California’s hotbed of wave pool inventers and dreamers, influencing everyone from Tom Lochtefeld, Tom Morey and Phil Roberts.

“He was the godfather of building waterparks in the US and paved the way for the rest of us,” recalls wave pool artist Phil Roberts. “He’s built them everywhere and he’s one of those old school guys who just gets in the tractor and gets it done – one of those old school “field of dreams” kind of guys.

His inspiration came when he dug out a lake at the family campground and then turned the surrounding piles of dirt into slides. From there he experimented and is now credited as creating the world’s first waterslide, building parks across the world. His most famous is Wild Rivers in Irvine California.

This ground zero for waterparks sparked the wave pool evolution that we see in many different forms today. Cheyne Magnusson and Kalani Robb’s re-imagining of the Wet ’n’ Wild waterpark in Palm Springs into a surf park wouldn’t be possible without Richard Croul’s influence.

“Richard represented the very best of California,” the Daily Pilot wrote in his obituary. “Freedom, creativity, originality, entrepreneurship, earthiness, love of water, love of family and a rare form of zany pragmatism. He enjoyed life to its fullest and taught others to enjoy it by example.”

Croul passed at age 90 after battling a rare form of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.

Main image of Wild Rivers Water Park by D Ramey/Wikipedia

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