Wild Waves weekend traffic discussed at city council meeting

Located on 70 acres in Federal Way, Wild Waves is the state
Located on 70 acres in Federal Way, Wild Waves is the state's largest theme park as well as the largest seasonal employer in the region.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Last weekend’s enormous number of visitors to Wild Waves Theme Park was still a topic of discussion during the Federal Way City Council’s July 2 meeting.

Federal Way resident Mike Batchelor expressed the frustration that many residents who live near the popular theme park experience on a fairly regular basis.

“As all of you probably know, this last weekend was a horrible weekend there,” Batchelor said. “For us, it’s that way every weekend…Right now, we feel like we don’t have any representation out there. The police department, we call them out there to ticket people who are parking in front of our driveways. They dismiss us. We need you guys to help us out.”

Batchelor said the overflow of parking and people can get severe enough sometimes that he has “had people picnicking on my yard.”

“They come and sit down and have picnics. I shouldn’t have to deal with that,” he said.

As far as traffic is concerned, Batchelor said issues arise because Wild Waves customers often will block driveways in his neighborhood. This past weekend was especially horrible for just trying to move around the neighborhood, he said.

“Driving from Highway 18 to my house took over an hour and a half this weekend,” he said. “It’s usually a five-minute drive. Again, you guys need to help us out. We want our neighborhood back. It’s a nice neighborhood.”

Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson reviewed the measures police took in dealing with the invasion of Wild Waves customers throughout the weekend.

“Everything came together this weekend for Wild Waves,” Wilson said. “The number of people who came to the park this weekend was more than has ever happened before with Wild Waves Theme Park. We were caught very surprised. I think Wild Waves’ management was caught by surprise.”

Wilson said Wild Waves management is aware of the issues the park creates for residents nearby, and indicated that the park’s management has made attempts to reach out to the neighborhoods.

“They’ve dispensed tickets to the homeowners association for compensation to address this. They have staff who have picked up garbage in the neighborhood throughout this issue,” he noted.

Wilson said that 29 citations were handed out for parking violations in the neighborhoods surrounding the theme park.

“We remain sensitive to the neighborhood to address their concerns. Listening to the Wild Waves staff, I hear that same thing too. They’re very concerned and want to meet the needs of the neighborhood. And this partnership that we have with them and certainly with the neighborhood…We will certainly try and mitigate anything like this that happened this weekend from happening again,” Wilson concluded.

Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell wondered if Wild Waves has a specific number for being at capacity, and asked whether the park turned back customers over the weekend. Wilson said the park does have a figure, but it’s rarely been reached in the years the park has been open.

“They really haven’t had that issue for so many years in terms of reaching capacity…With everything coming together, that was identified,” he said. “That is going to be part of the consideration, and I know they’ve thrown out some numbers that were significantly less than what occurred this weekend to use that strategy moving forward.”

Mayor Skip Priest said he and other city officials met with Wild Waves staff this week in order to form a plan in case the perfect storm of circumstances ever coalesces again around Wild Waves.

“The bottom line is, a very productive meeting occurred today. We will continue to reach out to you and other members of the community, to ensure that your questions are raised and are responded to,” Priest said.


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