Magic Springs & Crystal Falls

Celebrating 38 years of business

Story by Lindsey Wells, photography by Mara Kuhn

Story by Lindsey Wells, photography by Mara Kuhn

The only water and theme park in this region, award-winning Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, is celebrating 38 years of business on July 22 and shows no signs of slowing down now.

Park General Manager Steve Honeycutt attributes the park’s success to two things: the experience and the value.

“Depending on the time of year you buy, you can get a season pass as cheap as $59.99, and what a great value that is to get a water park, a theme park, and, usually we do anywhere from 14-18 concerts a year, and we do quality concerts too,” he said. “We’re not bringing in acts that are $10,000; we bring in big acts. They notice the value and that’s only part of the gain. The other part is, you may be a good value, but you better give good service too, and I think we do and I think that’s why (guests) come back.”

Admission to the concerts is always included with a season pass or general admission ticket. The Magic Springs 2016 Concert Series lineup includes such acts as Hunter Hayes, Hinder, MercyMe, Cheap Trick, Maddie & Tae, Kutless, Sabrina Carpenter, Colton Dixon, 38 Special, Dwight Yoakam, Candlebox, Blues Traveler and La Original Sonora Dinamita.

“It’s popular and it really helps to sell season passes, and that’s something we want to do,” Honeycutt said of the concert series. “About 50 percent of our total attendance each year is season pass holders, so we’ve got to give them a reason to purchase and concerts really do that.”MAGIC SPRINGS

The average season pass holder visits the park approximately five times per season, Honeycutt said, adding that season pass holders can visit any time they want, at any time of the day, during park operating hours. Whether they want to spend the whole day at the park or just attend a concert, there is no added cost and they are free to enter and leave as they please.

Whether guests purchase a season pass or a one-day admission ticket, Magic Springs offers something for every member of the family. On the theme park side, or the “dry” side, guests can enjoy a variety of thrill rides and family rides, shops, games and eateries. On the water park side, or the “wet” side, thrill water attractions, family water attractions and kiddie water attractions are available to accommodate all ages.

Honeycutt took the position as the park’s general manager in February 2011 and said one change he made that he’s particularly proud of is improving the customer service.

“We tell the employees, ‘the guests are our boss.’ When they come here we’re going to make sure they have a good time and we’re going to create the memories worth repeating, and if you don’t buy into that then we don’t want you to come work here because that’s important,” he said.

Having worked in the amusement park industry since he was 16 years old, Honeycutt has a good understanding of the industry and an obvious passion for every aspect of the job.

“As corny as it sounds, I just love seeing little kids smile,” he said. “When they’re on these rides, it’s ear-to-ear smiling and they’re just having the best time and that’s why we do it.”

When he took the job in 2011, Honeycutt said one complaint the guests had was about the lack of shade in the park and the fact that it was just too hot, prompting the additions of canopies, mister fans throughout the park and extra water attractions to help the guests cool down. A $2.2 million water attraction, Splash Island, was added two years ago and a chiller pool appropriately named the Magic Spring was installed this year.

Honeycutt said he would like to see the park’s attendance reach 500,000 guests per season.

“That’s the challenge — we’re only open 122 days per season, so it’s really hard to do that, particularly if you get rain on a Saturday and you’re budgeted for $10,000 that day and you do $1,000. That’s our goal though, to get up to that half-million mark.”

MAGIC SPRINGSIn addition to providing “magical” memories to park guests, Magic Springs provides jobs (the park employs approximately 40 full time individuals) and adds tax dollars to the community. The park is also to thank for a large portion of Hot Springs’ tourists, in turn helping local hotels. The out-of-market states commonly seen at the park include Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Kathy Marchese became the park’s sales and marketing director in September 2015 and immediately began working on building long-lasting relationships in the community and improving the overall branding experience.

“I love the theme park industry and just seeing the reactions on the guests’ faces, making magic memories every single day; it’s just fun. Not one day is the same. It’s not so routine, it’s always something different every day so you’ve got to be able to think on your feet,” she said. Marchese added that the park staff is “really listening to the guests,” constantly making improvements according to what the guests want to see.

As a result of brainstorming and deliberation by park staff, in addition to the thrill rides, water park attractions and concerts, guests will be treated to several new special events this year which will include the following:

• July 22 — Magic Springs’ anniversary.
Guests can enjoy all day park admission for only $19.78 in honor of the park’s grand opening in 1978.

• July 22-23 — All Scout Camp Out.
Guests can enjoy an exclusive behind the scenes tour and ride on the Arkansas Twister and a popcorn-infused movie on the big screen under the stars on July 22. All ages and ranks may attend for only $32.50. The cost includes camping out, breakfast, admission to the park and admission to the 38 Special concert on July 23. Family members can join their Scouts on July 23 for the same low price. Email or call 501-701-8792 for more information.

MAGIC SPRINGS• July 23 — International Culture Day and Christmas in July.

Celebrate international culture at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls by visiting food vendors offering cuisines from around the world. Exhibits will also feature international culture by showcasing art, dancing, clothing and jewelry. Additionally, the park will also celebrate “Christmas in July,” complete with visits with Santa and lots of holiday décor.

• July 30 — Down on the Farm.
A family fun day at Magic Springs filled with agricultural activities. Families can enjoy square dancers, observe large farm equipment in action and participate in the annual Little Mr. and Mrs. Farmer’s Contest

Other events to look forward to in 2016 include Hero Appreciation Day in August, which allows public servants such as law enforcement, firemen and military personnel to visit the park for free; Hispanic Heritage Day on Sept. 4, featuring Mexican food vendors, mariachi bands and Sonora Dinamita; and Magic Screams, the park’s Halloween celebration, which will close out the season.

“I think we want to continue to improve the experience that we have and the product, and I do think that we will do more on the wet side versus the dry side because that’s what the guests want, so that’s what we’re going to do,” said Honeycutt. “I want to continue and be able to get to that half-million mark, and along the way just make sure that we’re taking care of the guests and by giving them what they want, we’ll reach that attendance.”


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