Island Water Park at Showboat will transform the Atlantic City hotel into a year-round family resort, says owner Bart Blatstein.
the philadelphia creamThe New York-based developer also believes the $100 million project will spur additional investment in the game’s seaside town.
“I guarantee you that Atlantic City is going to change like never before in its history,” Blatstein said. Wednesday at a groundbreaking ceremony for Island Waterpark.
The 103,000 square foot water attraction will have a retractable roof and will feature slides, a lazy river, pools, a zipline and adult-only areas. It will be built on the New Jersey Avenue beach block lot next to Showboat.
Blatstein said the goal is to have the park open at some point Remembrance Day 2023.
“I promise you this is happening,” he said.
As for funding the project, Blatstein says he’s taking note.
“It’s my money that goes to this place. There are no partners. There is no outside money. It is not a public company,” he said. “It’s my money.”
Will Island Waterpark be the long-awaited “game changer” in AC?
While not the first theme park envisioned for Atlantic City, Island Waterpark at Showboat is the latest, and perhaps most realistic, attempt.
“We all know plans can change and plans take time,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. noted. “We’ve all seen it over the years. We’ve had stories of a water park coming into the big city of Atlantic City and for some reason it didn’t have the economy, resources, etc.
Small also tossed out an oft-overused phrase in Atlantic City to describe the project’s impact.
“It’s a complete and utter change,” he said, later adding, “It’s not just a win for tourists, it’s a win for our residents.”
Renderings of Showboat Island Waterpark
Big bet in Atlantic City
Blatstein made waves in Atlantic City around 2015 when he passed $2.7 million buy the building on the pier in front of Caesars Atlantic City.
At that time he promised a $50 million investing in a concept called the Playground dock. The goal was to revive the declining mall into a retail, dining and entertainment destination.
The following year he spent $23 million to buy Showboat, a former casino that was one of five to close in Atlantic City between 2014 and 2016. It also acquired the garden pier in front of Ocean Casino Resort in 2016.
At the Showboat, Blatstein reopened the House of Blues as the Bourbon Room in 2018. The Matrxx Gym also debuted in 2018. Later that year, the Showboat Residences open rental units.
Last summer the Lucky Snake Arcade and Sports Bar opened on the former floor of the hotel’s casino.
Still chasing the jackpot in AC
Blatstein’s Atlantic City projects have produced mixed results.
the Bourbon Room never came close to House of Blues success. Underutilized space is mostly empty.
Showboat’s rental apartments and gym appear to be doing well. The hotel itself is operational, and the meeting spaces regularly host conferences or niche shows.
The Playground Pier had less than a dozen tenants when it was sold to Entertainment Caesars in 2020.
The Garden Pier occasionally hosts seasonal outdoor events, such as live wrestling or concerts.
Blatstein said Lucky Snake drew more than 200,000 people between its May opening and Wednesday’s press conference.
At one point, Blatstein raised the idea of building an adjacent sports gaming facility on the land where the water park will be. The Showboat has an act restriction prohibiting gambling until 2024, so Blatstein floated the auxiliary betting space as a workaround.
Main image and renderings courtesy of Showboat Atlantic City