Island Waterpark at Showboat will transform the Atlantic City hotel into a year-round family resort, says owner Bart Blatstein.
The Philadelphia-based developer also believes the $100-million project will spur additional investment in the seaside gambling town.
“I guarantee you that Atlantic City is going to change like it never has in its history,” Blatstein said Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony of Island Waterpark.
The 103,000-square-foot aquatic attraction will have a retractable roof and feature slides, a lazy river, pools, a zipline and adult-only areas. It will be constructed on the New Jersey Avenue beach block lot next to Showboat.
Blatstein said the goal is to have the park open sometime around Memorial Day 2023.
“I promise you, this is happening,” he said.
As for the project’s funding, Blatstein says he’s picking up the tab.
“It’s my money that goes into this place. There are no partners. There is no outside money. This is not a public company,” he said. “It’s my money.”
Will Island Waterpark be the long-awaited ‘game-changer’ in AC?
Although not the first imagined theme park for Atlantic City, Island Waterpark at Showboat is the latest, and perhaps most realistic, attempt.
“We all know that plans can change and plans take time,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said. “We’ve all seen it throughout the years. We had stories of a waterpark coming into the great City of Atlantic City and, for whatever reason, it didn’t have the economy, resources, etcetera.”
Small also tossed out an oft-overused phrase in Atlantic City to describe the project’s impact.
“This is a complete and total game-changer,” he said, later adding: “Not only is this a win for the tourists, this is a win for our residents.”
Renderings of Showboat Island Waterpark
Big gambles in Atlantic City
Blatstein made waves in Atlantic City around 2015 when he spent $2.7 million to buy the building on the pier across from Caesars Atlantic City.
At that time, he promised a $50 million investment in a concept called the Playground Pier. The goal was to revive the fading shopping mall into a retail, dining and entertainment destination.
The next year, he spent $23 million to purchase Showboat, a former casino that was one of five to close in Atlantic City between 2014 and 2016. He also acquired the Garden Pier across from Ocean Casino Resort in 2016.
At the Showboat, Blatstein reopened the House of Blues as the Bourbon Room in 2018. The Matrxx Gym also made its debut in 2018. Later that year, the Showboat Residences rental units opened.
Last summer, the Lucky Snake Arcade & Sports Bar opened on the hotel’s former casino floor.
Still searching for the jackpot in AC
Blatstein’s Atlantic City projects have produced mixed results.
The Bourbon Room has never come close to the success of the House of Blues. The underutilized space is empty more often than not.
The rental apartments and the gym in Showboat appear to be doing well. The hotel itself is operational and the meeting spaces routinely host niche conferences or shows.
The Playground Pier had less than a dozen tenants when it was sold back to Caesars Entertainment in 2020.
The Garden Pier occasionally hosts outdoor, seasonal events, such as live wrestling or concerts.
Blatstein said Lucky Snake drew over 200,000 people between its May opening and Wednesday’s press conference.
At one point, Blatstein teased the idea of constructing an adjacent sports gambling facility on the lot where the waterpark will be. The Showboat has a deed restriction prohibiting gaming until 2024, so Blatstein floated the auxiliary betting space as a workaround.
Main image and renderings provided by Showboat Atlantic City