Water, Water, EverywhereBookmark this
Early in the morning, while the rest of Branson is waking up, Gerald Jenkins climbs to the top of the mountain and surveys his domain.
“I can see the whole park from Kalani Towers,” says the general manager of White Water. “And it’s a beautiful thing.” That’s usually Jenkins’ last stop before the water rides open for the day. By then, he’s already walked every area of the park — from Waikiki Wave to the Surf’s Up Wave Pool and from the KaPau Plummet to the Aloha River.
“I look for anything from loose trash to weeds in the flower beds,” he says. “Every section of the park has a certain way it sounds, and I listen for anything out of the ordinary.” That’s where the predictable portion of Jenkins’ day ends. From then on, it’s “all about customer service.”
“We usually have a park host whose job is just taking care of our guests,” he explains. “All of us in leadership take on that role. So I could be helping the foods crew cook hamburgers, helping maintenance with a plumbing problem or trying to find a way to minimize a line so folks can do everything they want to do. Every day is different.” It’s a good thing Jenkins spent 41 years training for the job. A homegrown success story for Herschend Family Entertainment, Jenkins spent most of that time at sister property Silver Dollar City, where he worked in foods, maintenance and construction, attractions and safety and security.
“Everything I did before led me to this,” he says. That includes a childhood in Reeds Spring, Mo., just down the road from Branson. “There weren’t a lot of pools,” he says with a laugh.
“We went to the lake and the creek. When the water got so warm in the lake it wasn’t comfortable, we’d pack a picnic and go to the creek. It was wonderful just to splash out and let the cool water pour over you.” Kids, says Jenkins, may have changed since he was one, “but fun is universal.”
“In this element, there’s no technology involved,” he muses. “It’s just getting wet, and the thrill of riding the slides, and playing in the wave pool. And mom likes it because she can relax in a cabana or go to the Lazy River and cool off.
“Our guests feel like the park is safe,” he adds. “Parents can let their kids run and not feel like they’re in danger. We have a lot of eyes watching to be sure our park is family friendly.”
- WHEN — 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, opening May 26
- WHERE — 3505 W. Missouri 76 in Branson
- COST — $20-$44 daily; season tickets are $93-$103
- INFO — 800-831-4FUN(386)
- BONUS — Night Water, when the park is open late on Friday and Saturday, runs through the month of July into the first weekend in August. There will be fireworks on Saturday evenings.