With 15 minutes remaining until the 11 a.m. opening, more than 200 people were already in line. Some said they had been waiting outside of the gate for hours.
Tina Brockett of Cape Girardeau and her 11-year-old daughter, Erin, arrived at the park at 8:30 a.m. to be the first through the doors.
Brockett said she has been waiting for Cape Girardeau to get a water park for a long time.
"I am so happy they got one. We have been going to the one in Farmington [Mo.] for years. I have been hoping Cape would get one for years," Brockett said. She said her family would typically travel to Farmington a few times a summer to spend the day at that water park, but is looking forward to visiting Cape Splash frequently.
"We would go to Farmington four to six times a year, but we can come to this every week. We bought season passes," she said.
For the Brocketts, waiting in line for more than two hours was rewarded. Erin was the first to cross the turnstiles and was the first to get in the water. She made her way to the lazy river, a 700-foot float around the park, which she said was "great and fun."
Amy Roth, recreation supervisor for Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation, said the lazy river was just one of the park's top attractions Saturday.
"We have a total of four slides. We have two slides that are for [people 48 inches or taller]. They're pretty fast, so they have to be 48 inches to go on those. We have two slides that are a little slower, but they are still a lot of fun. We ask that you're 48 inches [tall] for those, too, but if you're close, you can take a swim test. If you pass a swim test, then you can go down those slides," she said.
For those guests who are too young or too small to venture down the slides, Roth said there are alternatives.
"We have a spray pad area for toddlers and little kids. It's got a real soft, rubberized surface on it, so it's going to be great for the little kids that are learning to walk. It's real interactive. They can push on it and water will be spewing up and coming down. Then we have a playground area for the 3- to 7-year-olds. Again, it's got spray features coming out of it," she said.
One of the most popular features with Saturday's guests, Roth said, was the vortex. This round "swirl pool" has constantly churning waters that rock swimmers.
For those requiring a more traditional approach to time in the water, Roth said there were two lap lanes available.
Because Cape Splash does not allow outside food or drink, it features a full-service concession stand, which sold more than 1,000 items Saturday, Roth said. With the steady flow of visitors throughout the day, she said employees worked very hard to keep up with trash removal and maintenance demands.
Jackson's Trish Hedrick said she made sure to arrive early to try to beat the crowds and to take advantage of everything the park has to offer. She and her two children said they had a great time at the park, but for her the park symbolized more than fun.
"It's going to bring lots of jobs, a lot of business to local stores here and a lot of out-of-towners coming in," she said. She added that it was great to have more entertainment options in the area and the center has a great layout.
The aquatic center is at 1565 N. Kingshighway. It is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Labor Day, and is available for parties and after-hours rentals. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children and senior citizens. Season passes are also available. More information about Cape Splash is available at www.cityofcapegirardeau.org or by calling 339-6342.