Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Eau to joy

Fun Mountain Water Slide Park has been helping Winnipeggers beat the heat for 29 years

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Pretend that you're the owner of a 48-acre water park situated six kilometres east of the Mint, at 804 Murdock Rd. Now pretend that every time you pick up the paper or turn on the news, you're bombarded with reports about how Winnipeg desperately needs a water park, and how city hall is prepared to fork over a blank cheque to get one built.

Jealous much?

"I wouldn't take their money," says Tanya Hall, who, together with her husband, Darius, bought Fun Mountain Water Slide Park in 2010. "Somebody obviously has to pay so that a company from Alberta can get $7 million and in my opinion, we're already taxed to death.

"I think at some point we all have to figure out what our values and ethics are; I'd rather succeed or fail in life based on my own efforts." (Three months ago, Hall sent a letter to Winnipeg's city councillors outlining her concerns. She's still waiting to hear back.)

-- -- --

Twelve years ago, Tanya and Darius opened a combination restaurant/Shell station in Prawda. The location, which the couple gutted and rebuilt from the ground up, was popular with Winnipeggers on their way home from Lake of the Woods and the Whiteshell.

In 2006, the Halls received some wonderful news. After being told for years that they would never have children, Tanya discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter, Amarissa.

Five months after Amarissa was born, however, Tanya was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

"We ended up selling the business," Tanya says. "Between the cancer thing and my new daughter, I just couldn't handle it."

Tanya eventually healed herself naturally. In early 2009, she and Darius sat down to discuss what they should do next. The answer came in the form of a 12-metre-long motor home.

"We decided to do one of those bucket list-type things and hit the road for however long," Tanya says.

"However long" turned out to be about 30 days, at which point the couple decided that they needed more out of a life than a road map and a full tank of gas.

Tanya, 37, hadn't been to Fun Mountain in 20 years when she and her husband heard that the park was for sale in September 2009.

"We didn't have any experience with water parks, that was for sure, but we could tell it was our kind of place; somewhere that needed a little TLC."

The couple paid a few visits during the winter, walking the grounds with a jackrabbit or three that lived on the premises. The Halls sealed the deal in March 2010. They welcomed their first customers three months after that.

-- -- --

Fun Mountain Water Slide Park was constructed in the spring of 1983, at a cost of $2 million. The man-made lake that rings three-quarters of the area was the source of the dirt used to build the site up to its 14-metre height.

Day 1 was June 29, 1983. Things didn't exactly go swimmingly. When the reigning Miss Teen Winnipeg showed up to take an inaugural trip down one of the park's slides, she was relegated to the "kiddie" area because of a pipe malfunction on the more mature runs, like the Dragon and the Banzai.

That didn't work out much better. According to a Free Press story dated June 30, 1983, the teen queen's journey was "impeded because she kept sticking to the fiberglass of the run." (In July 2002, West Beverly High School "alumna" Shannen Doherty made a splash at Fun Mountain when she showed up with a few friends for an afternoon of frolicking. The 90210 star was in Winnipeg at the time filming Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay.)

Nowadays, Fun Mountain features 10 chief slides, as well as a pool area, bumper boats and a miniature golf course. The Halls are the park's fourth set of owners. Their first big addition came last summer: a zip-line course that propels riders some 200 metres from the top of the hill to the other side of the lake.

This summer, Tanya will introduce theme days and entertainment to the mix. Grammy-nominated rap star Fresh I.E. is scheduled to perform on the park's outdoor stage on July 21, weather permitting.

"Don't even get me started about weather," Tanya says, after a scribe apologizes for using the "W" word. "I've never checked forecasts so much in my life. When the season's over, I don't ever want to watch the weather channel again."

-- -- --

Fun Mountain is open daily until Labour Day. But Tanya laughs at the notion that hers is a summer job.

"I'm on the couch watching Survivor all winter, with books piled up on my lap, trying to figure out what we're going to do next year," she says. (Last September, the Halls took a brief, four-day vacation after the park closed for the season. Their destination? Wisconsin Dells, Wis., a.k.a. the water park capital of the world.)

"It was more of a fact-finding mission," Tanya says with a laugh, admitting that no, she didn't really need more water in her life. "It was a situation of wanting to know what other places do in terms of their food policies, etc."

From now until the park closes, the Halls will live out of their motor home, which is parked in a camping area near the site's front gates 24/7. Come September, they'll return to their house in Prawda, which they share with 12 Chow Chows.

As for the trials (leaks) and tribulations (minor bumps and bruises) of running a water park, (Tanya says Hollywood should consider a reality show based around the gazillion things that can go awry on a daily basis), the owner takes a philosophical approach.

"There are certainly moments when I'm like, 'What are we doing here?' But after you've had cancer and after you've seen that the universe worked in your favour and healed you, there's not a whole lot that can get you down."

Hot town,


in the city

ONE of the tasks Tanya Hall enjoys performing during the off-season is choosing what sun-drenched tunes will be played over Fun Mountain's PA system next summer.

"I like to change it up every year and play songs that have a certain magic --ones that resonate with us," she says, adding that she's a big fan of "world music."

To give Tanya a head start on Fun Mountain's 2013 soundtrack, we searched the Internet for a list of the best summer songs of all time. Here are the top 10 summer time selections, according to Billboard magazine.


Summer Nights

John Travolta & Olivia



Hot Fun in the Summertime

Sly & the Family Stone


Surfin' U.S.A.

Beach Boys



DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince


Endless Summer Nights

Richard Marx


Surf City

Jan & Dean


Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Bryan Hyland


Wipe Out -- Surfaris


Summer in the City

Lovin' Spoonful


California Girls

Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 1, 2012 E3

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