IT has been three years since we last visited the water park in Negril, and a lot has changed.
First off, the park's name has been re-worked to Kool Runnings Adventure Park, which quite easily encompasses what TEENage experienced recently — an adventure.
Located along the Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril, Hanover, Kool Runnings is the Caribbean's premier water attraction.
Established in 2007, the park sits on over five acres of land, boasting seven slides, a quarter-mile lazy river, kids rides, and go-karts.
But this year the park has installed several new attractions: Paintless Paintball, Lazer Tag, The Tsunami Wave Pool, as well as, a state-of-the-art Gaming Arcade.
For this summer, TEENage has given the revamped park the must-visit seal of approval.
As part of their social conscience, the park also recently launched the Water Safety Institute. This promotes the importance of water safety in Jamaica, especially with the recent drowning deaths of two male students in Portland during a school outing.
In guiding the team around the park, Shari Munroe, director of marketing and sales, told TEENage about the rationale behind the initiative.
"As a water-centred attraction, we feel that it is our duty to ensure that the park's patrons are safe and that they know how to help in the event there is a water emergency," Munroe said.
Munroe and Chantelle Black, aquatics supervisor at the park, both pointed out that too often, public holidays, when Jamaicans normally head out to enjoy beaches and rivers, are marred by the news of tragic drowning deaths.
"We would like to equip as many people as possible with the tools and techniques they need to safely enjoy the water," Black said.
Just before we utilised any of the 40 lifeguards on duty, TEENage tackled one of the new landlocked activities at the park.
Paintless Paintball had co-sport co-ordinator Ian Williams eagerly gearing up to join a batch of teachers, who had come to the park to celebrate Teachers' Day.
Gearing up, however, took up quite some time and so the rest of the team decided to go check of the Tsunami Wave Pool.
Making waves up to five feet, the Wave Pool, a hit among patrons opened late last month and it's something you just have to feel to appreciate.
A bit timid for the team — Williams and new writer Sharlene Hendricks — went on to the traditional slides in the park.
The 40-foot towers Jamaica Bobsled Ride, Duppy Conquerer, Green Grotto and Sly Mongoose, were all conquered. And being told that she did not meet the safety requirements to use the Kick Puppalick, Sharlene made use of the children's slides (on the 30-foot tower) — Sly Mongoose, Lightening Bolt, and Red Snapper.
After having spent some time on slides, TEENage took the fun into the Gaming Arcade, which houses 10 state-of-the-art and classic games including Air Hockey.
For our last escapade of the day — Kanoeing on the Morass — TEENage paddled along a part of the second largest wetlands in Jamaica, the Negril Great Morass.
The wetland houses over 300 species of wildlife, including reptiles, birds and butterflies, and is the second only to the Black River Lower Morass, which is also the largest wetland habitat in the Caribbean.
Kanoeing down the morass proved to be quite fun and interesting. We got the opportunity to feed the fish (some of them quite huge) and looked at the site for an additional attraction to be installed in the park this summer — the Morassic Park.
Kool Runnings Adventure Park is definitely a 'kool' place to go this summer, whether it be a family outing, or just a group of friends, the park has a wide range of activities that accommodate the daring and the not so daring.
For more information on the park, check out their website at www.koolrunnings.com.