If you have ever spent time at a water park or resort hotel, you might be familiar with the lazy river. These slow-moving, shallow bodies of water are ideal for relaxing in an inner tube and letting the current carry you around. Lazy rivers exist as a staple of the history of aquatic features and maintain their popularity today.
But do you know where the lazy river comes from or how they work? Today, American Aqua Designs will take you through everything you need to know about lazy rivers, from their design, origins, how they have evolved, and even how to maintain one in a residential area.
Long before the lazy river became culturally relevant, it started with the growing popularity of “tubing.” In the 1940s, an entrepreneur named David Breault had an abundance of inner tubes, a nightclub to promote, and an idea. One lazy afternoon, he set up an event at the Apple River and let people ride the inner tube along the water’s natural current.
After a roughly 45-minute floating party, guests stopped near a truck advertising Breault’s nightclub. The truck would drive people back to the starting point, and they could go for another trip if they wanted to. The event was incredibly popular, and Mr. David Breault confirmed that it was a massive success, as business at his nightclub started booming.
Perhaps more astonishing is that in the 1960s, an actual princess of Thailand, Chumbhot of Naga Svarga, received credit for popularizing the idea of tubing as a recreational activity. The princess invited friends to her estate to float along the river in inner tubes. It looked so fun that soon people were willing to pay for the experience and rent a tube.
We know from photos and stories that people floating along rivers in inner tubes existed well before the Princesses’ events in the 1960s. However, it is a fascinating piece of history how much of the popularity of modern tubing came from Thai royalty.
Despite these two iconic people using tubing as a recreational activity, the term “lazy river” didn’t become prominent until 1970, when George Millay first trademarked it. Millay was an American businessman who founded SeaWorld and other aquatic parks like the former Wet ‘n Wild park in Orlando.
Over the decades, lazy rivers became a staple of water parks, hotels, and high-end resorts. Relaxing in a natural current on a floatation device offers a sense of fun, comfort, and community that has proven popular. Throughout the years, many parks attempted to turn the lazy river concept into more of a ride with rougher currents, small waterfalls, and more exciting themes or visuals.
While several variations on the concept exist, the classic lazy river design remains a popular choice for many locations. Lazy rivers are now available in residential areas so that people can create, customize, and enjoy their own lazy river experience.
One of the most important things to know about the lazy river is how its mechanics help separate it from pools and other water attractions. The story goes that the mechanics used to create waves in wave pools were for making waves to assess how they affect ships and boats. One of the workers fell into the wave pool and discovered it was a lot of fun.
Lazy rivers use jets and pumps to create a continuous current throughout the length of the attraction. When creating a lazy river, it’s important to properly balance the current’s level, speed, and power to ensure that it doesn’t make too much turbulence but works to keep things moving without interruption.
When designing a lazy river, one of the trickier aspects of controlling the current involves having the pumps work around corners. If the pumps and motors make the current too strong around corners, the river may lose water or shove the tubers up against the outer wall. However, if the current is too weak, moving around the corner may cause a slowdown and disrupt the natural flow.
While many lazy rivers exist as a loop, allowing for an infinite series of laps around the body of water, other options exist to create a more linear experience. Some lazy rivers may take an approach like that Apple River event from David Breault in the 1940s and come to an end, or the lazy river may flow naturally into a more open pool area once it’s over.
Whether you work for a resort that uses one or decide to install one in your backyard, knowing how to care for a lazy river properly is a vital part of keeping it running. For starters, you must regularly check the pumps and motors to ensure everything is still running.
Like a pool, you want to ensure you keep a proper chemical balance in the water to keep it clean and prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria. Maintaining a proper pH balance is essential for any lazy river, and you want to have a healthy balance of chlorine and bromine to keep your water free of irritants.
Cleaning a lazy river is an integral part of their maintenance and, thankfully, is a straightforward process. Fiberglass lazy river pools are simple to clean thanks to their material, making it difficult for things like algae to cling onto. Because lazy rivers are shallower than most pools, it’s less effort to get to the bottom and clean them.
Lazy rivers are incredible features with a rich history and interesting mechanics that keep them flowing the way we want them to. If you want to float along a lazy river in your backyard, American Aqua Designs is the world’s only manufacturer of fiberglass lazy rivers. Those looking to try something new and bring the relaxing form of tubing to their home should contact us today to set up an appointment. Our specialists are here to answer any questions you may have and help bring a personal oasis to your home.