Celebrate dad this year Florida-style with some fun in the sun at Sun Splash Family Waterpark.
The Cape Coral park is offering free admission for fathers on Saturday and Sunday with the purchase of a paid child or teen ticket. The venue is currently open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We do this every year," manager Sandie Greiner said. "Just good attendance, good family days."
Sun Splash first presented the free entry deal a couple of years ago to mothers during Mother's Day weekend. Last year, the park extended the promotion to grandparents for National Grandparents Day.
"It's inexpensive," she said of the special. "All you have to do is pay for the child."
Fathers can register to win more than $800 worth of prizes, including a two-night stay at the Diamond Head Beach Resort, a $250 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops, a kayak rental from Tarpon Point Marina and a free round of golf at the Coral Oaks Golf Course. The winners will be selected at 4 p.m. Sunday.
"We'll take entries for every dad ticket," Greiner said, adding they do not have to be present to win.
Sun Splash raffled off similar prizes to the dads during last year's promotion.
"They're about the same as we did last year, and they went over real well," she said.
Saturday will feature an extra treat - an appearance by Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants.
It is the third year that the venue has planned the special visit, but it is the first time that it has coincided with another promotion. According to Greiner, the SpongeBob SquarePants costume comes by crate from out of state and a professional actor, not a park staffer, must play the famous part.
"There's actually a professional character in there," she said.
"It's big," Greiner added of the event.
SpongeBob will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sun Splash for the meet-and-greet. He will shake hands and give out hugs, and parents are welcome to take photos with their own cameras.
"They don't have to pay anything," she said. "It's just an added value for the guests."
Greiner plans to take photos of the visit to post on the park's Facebook page at a later date.
"There will be some pictures. They will be able to find some on Facebook," she said.
The venue's capacity stands at 1,650.
"With SpongeBob being here on Saturday, plus offering the dads' discount, I think we're going to get real close to capacity, if not at capacity," Greiner said.
Last year, there were about 1,500 visitors to the park each day during the Father's Day weekend promotion. The SpongeBob visit in 2012 also brought Sun Splash very close to hitting its capacity.
If the park reaches capacity this weekend, people will have to wait to gain entry.
"As people leave that's when we let more people in the park," she said.
Greiner suggested that visitors come early to avoid the possibility of having to wait to get in.
"It's your best bet," she said. "Once you're in the park, you're in the park."
For Father's Day weekend, Sun Splash will feature a bratwurst, coleslaw and drink for $5.
"Most dads that we surveyed like bratwursts," Greiner said, adding that bratwursts are not one of the normal menu items offered at the park. "We're going to be grilling them up."
She urged families to celebrate dad this year at the water park.
"It's going to be a really good weekend," Greiner said. "It's going to be good family time."
For Cape residents, the cost of admission is $12.95 for children 12 and under or $14.95 for adults.
Admission costs for non-residents are $15.95 for a child or $17.95 for adults ages 13 and up.
"Still a great value," she said.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd.
The water park has more than 14 acres of wet and dry attractions for all ages, including three speed slides, a Lazy River, a Tot Spot for small children, a family pool, and open and enclosed water flumes.
Season passes are available, and Family Fun Nights and Aqua Theatre Nights are scheduled.
The 2013 season runs through Sept. 29.
For more information, visit online: www.SunSplashWaterpark.com.