Other waterparks tangle with Maui Sands Web site

SANDUSKY A local waterpark hoped to make a splash with a Web site that showcased the best Sandusky h
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

A local waterpark hoped to make a splash with a Web site that showcased the best Sandusky had to offer. Instead, the project became one big belly-flop.

The site, www.sanduskywaterparks.com, is registered to Maui Sands owner Scott Emerson and features information about the resort, as well as several other waterparks in the area.

Maui Sands spokeswoman Lexi Robinson said the site was meant to be a cooperative effort between all the area's major waterparks and a tool for marketing them.

The resort launched its promotional Web site in August and abandoned it after about a month -- when it failed to yield results, Robinson said. But months later, the site remains up -- possibly causing confusion for potential travelers and leaving several waterpark managers scratching their heads.

"We discovered it wasn't bringing in the revenue we wanted," Robinson said. "In the summer it was an opportunity for people to win a free overnight stay or a discounted stay at Maui Sands ... but you hit a season in September, October and November where not as many people are visiting."

Though the resort is no longer marketing the site, Robinson said it's a project they might revisit later.

In the meantime, however, it's not hard for others to find.

The site still appears among the top three Google search results when the user types key words like "Sandusky" and "water parks." It still allows users to register to "receive a free overnight stay or room discounts at a Sandusky indoor water park" and advertises that every entry is a winner. It also advertises that guests can bid for room rates and offers comparisons of certain resort features between Great Wolf Lodge, Castaway Bay and Kalahari Resort.

Kalahari spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy said Kalahari's corporate counsel asked Maui Sands owner Scott Emerson to remove Kalahari from SanduskyWaterparks.com in August.

"At that time, Kalahari Resort felt the Web site was misleading and deceptive to consumers because it inferred that a free stay at Kalahari Resort was one of the possible benefits of registration, which was not the case," McCarthy said in an e-mailed response. "Since then the site has been modified, but ... Kalahari Resort is not sponsoring and or participating in this Web site or its giveaways."

She said Kalahari Resorts was not pursuing any further legal action at this time.

Bryan Edwards, spokesman for Cedar Point and Castaway Bay, said Cedar Point had no connection to the site.

Great Wolf Lodge spokesman Steve Shattuck said he plans to work with the company's corporate legal counsel to have the lodge removed entirely from the Web site.

"We have no affiliation with the site whatsoever -- it's not a representation of our brand whatsoever," Shattuck said. "The last thing we'd want to do is confuse any of our potential guests."