Water Wars makes a BIG splash around the world
WRITTEN BY KATE PERKINS | PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF COLLINS
A LAKE COUNTRY ATTRACTION INVENTED IN CROSSLAKE HAS PROGRESSED INTO A MANUFACTURING COMPANY THAT MAKES WELL-LOVED GAMES AROUND THE WORLD. Water Wars, which started with its water balloon launching game of the same name, now manufactures fourteen models of games that can be found in thirty-five countries across the globe.
Visitors and residents in Lake Country have probably seen a Water Wars game. Two water balloon slingshot stations face each other, and players on either side try to launch the balloons and soak each other in water. It’s the perfect game for a hot vacation day.
Water Wars games aren’t just a staple at Lake Country Fourth of July celebrations and festivals, but also at some of the biggest water parks in the world. They’ve been on cruise ship fleets and in theme parks, and almost every single game is made right in Pequot Lakes.
Tommy Woog, owner, explained that the Water Wars company started with the Water Wars game, but has grown to include many games, including both mobile and stationary versions of the attractions. The company’s original Water Wars product was invented one summer at Free Wheelin’, a Crosslake family fun park owned by Tommy’s father, Tom Woog. One particularly hot, dry year, Tom found that people were leaving Free Wheelin’ to go to the nearby waterslides and cool off. He knew he needed some sort of cool-down activity for his guests.
Tommy describes his dad as a creative thinker with a knack for inventions, and Water Wars was the invention that solved the hot-weather problem. The game was a success its first summer, and an even bigger success the next summer.
“He figured, if it works here, it’ll work other places,” Tommy said of his father’s invention. And while he turned out to be right, there was a lot of thought, research, and design that went into making the Water Wars game what it is today.
For example, the game requires a lot of water balloons. Filling all the water balloons isn’t a problem, but tying hundreds of balloons by hand is no fun.
“One of the best inventions my dad ever came up with, outside of the game, is the speed tier,” Tommy said. On the Water Wars balloon filling station, a small PVC pipe extends out horizontally. Half of the pipe’s top is removed, so it looks like a small half pipe or spout. Wrap the neck of the balloon around the pipe, and it’s easy to tuck the end through the space between the pipe and the balloon neck.
The invention was so simple and inexpensive that Tom never even thought to copyright it, but since then numerous similar balloon tying apparatuses have been invented and sold that are strikingly similar to Tom’s.
So the balloon tying problem was solved, but what about the balloons themselves? Anyone who has a Water Wars game is going to need a lot of water balloons. Regular backyard water balloons seemed too small. The balloons needed to be big enough to make a big splash while being small enough to handle and launch. Giving the balloons an extra-long neck makes them easier to tie, and making them out of latex means that they’ll biodegrade. Water Wars has water balloons manufactured to all these specifications. They buy in bulk—a stunning ten to twelve million water balloons a year.