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Beat the Heat: 8 Wild Waterparks

It’s summertime…that glorious time of the year when school is out and kids of all ages are free to run wild.   Good news for you, when the heat becomes unbearable and your kids need a break, pack the family up and head to the waterpark.  And for us grown-ups, who doesn’t feel like a kid again when you’re zooming down a monster slide from hundreds of feet in the air?! Fun is just about guaranteed and you’ll never get bored with all kinds of slides, waterfalls, pirate ships and lazy rivers for you to float along without a care in the world.  For parents, it’s time to drain the bank account a bit and rent that private cabana.  You know you want to!!

Here are 8 parks that stand above the rest:

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, Texas

Do you love tubing?  Visit Schlitterbahn New Braunfels for over three miles of tubing and a 3600 foot long lazy river named The Falls that holds the title of world’s longest water park ride.  Ever heard of an uphill water slide?  Nope, me either.  But they have them here; not one but three of them.  You won’t find them anywhere else.  I guess gravity is on vacation in the summer too!  Oh and check out the Master Blaster water coaster, you will not be disappointed.


Water World, Denver, Colorado

Located roughly 10 miles north of Denver, Water World is one of the nation’s largest waterparks.  One of the main attractions, Thunder Bay, is a huge wave pool that will cool you off on even the most sweltering summer day.  It holds 1.8 million gallons of water and even the most die-hard waterpark fans give it a big thumbs-up.  They allow you to bring your own cooler and food so you can setup a picnic and keep your budget in check.  Be sure to arrive early for a shady spot, they go quickly and there are not many shady places inside the park.  If you like to sleep in, rent a cabana so your clan can meet up through the day and relax.


Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells

Noah’s Ark has over 80 family-friendly activities to ensure summer boredom never arrives.  You can go all out on some of the crazier rides like Black Anaconda, Quadzilla, or Black Thunder…or enjoy a few of the group rides such as Adventure River, 4-D Dive-In Theater, and Congo Bongo Rapids.  New this year is Surfing Safari, where you can ride learn to ride a bodyboard while thousands of gallons of water churn underneath you.  Tickets can get pricey, so find some online discounts or coupons. Try to arrive early and park close to the park so you can head back for a picnic and avoid all the amusement park fare.  Healthy and cheaper!


Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana

Splashin’ Safari and Holiday World have both amusement and water rides for double the action.  If you love coasters, be sure to ride the Mammoth, touted as the world’s longest water coaster, which is 7-stories high (69 feet)–and covers more than 3 acres.  And it’s a real coaster, too, you ride backward, in the dark, up and down hills, and experience breath-taking drops.   New this year is Hyena Falls, with 4 new in-the-dark water slides with names like Laughs, Chuckles, and Giggles.  The highest and longest is 350 feet long…so if you’re afraid of the dark, go ahead and grab an inner tube and scream your head off!  No food or drinks can be brought into the park, but they provide free 30 SPF sunscreen and free Wi-Fi. If you have your dog along for the trip, there is an on-site kennel during park hours.


White Water, Branson, Missouri

One of the best places to cool off in Branson is the popular White Water waterpark.  Feel like relaxing and floating?  Then head to the 800-foot-long Aloha River at Hula Hula Bay or ride the waves at the half-million gallon Surf’s Up Wave Pool.  If you’re looking for speed and heart-pumping drops, try the 7-story super slide Kalani Towers and race your friends to the bottom of the Pipeline Plunge. When you’ve had enough of the sun and splash, head over to your own private cabana with satellite TV, ceiling fan, and personal locker (tip: reserve it online).  Your kids can continue to splash and play nearby while you recharge your batteries.


Water Country USA, Williamsburg, VA

Perfectly situated in York County, Virginia, you can visit Water Country USA on your next visit to historic Williamsburg.  The waterpark is located conveniently about 3 miles from Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.  Everything is set to a colorful surf theme from the 1950s, and you’ll enjoy over 30 rides and attractions along with live entertainment, a wave pool, and tons of slides.  One of the top rides is Vanish Point, a punishing drop from a 75-foot tower through either a skybox where you drop down and the floor drops out, or the 300-foot speed slide where you simply drop straight down.  Don’t miss Aquazoid’s dark tunnels that torture you since you don’t know what is around the next corner or when you’re going to get hit by one of the waterfalls.  Head over to Big Daddy Falls for a whitewater rafting adventure that your whole family can survive…I mean enjoy, together.  If you have kids rent a cabana on Huba Huba Highway, you’ll be glad you did.


Aquatica, Orlando, Florida

If you are traveling to Orlando to visit Disney World and Sea World, you won’t want to miss Aquatica.  Conveniently located right across the street from SeaWorld on International Drive, this waterpark has something for kids of all ages.  Roa’s Rapids is a fast, lazy river for floating around the park in your life vest, you ride at a comfortable pace as you get pushed along by jets.  Sounds like a perfectly relaxing way to spend the day!  Aquatica is not as big as the Disney Parks but offers a great family experience you won’t soon forget.  Prepare to pay a premium for lockers, parking, and food.  You can bring in a small cooler, but be sure to check the FAQs before you pack so you’ll meet the strict limitations that are enforced.


Disney Waterparks, Orlando, Florida

Whenever I am at Disney, I always try to sneak away to Typhoon Lagoon. I have no problem wasting an entire afternoon in the humongous wave pool that shoots out perfect 6-foot waves after the loud sonic boom.  For the thrill seeker, be sure to check Humunga Kowabunga, where you can be the only mom with a super wedgie as you shoot down a dark tunnel from 5-stories high (214 feet downhill) at a 60-degree angle.  You’ll swear you’ll break your back and need medical assistance at the bottom.  Once you do it, you’ll, of course, want to go again and again.  At Blizzard Beach you’ll miss the wave pool but get more slides like Summit Plummet, Teamboat Springs, and Downhill Double Dipper.  Without a doubt, the waterparks at Disney are worth the trip and will help you escape from princesses and puppets for an amazing afternoon of watery fun.


What’s your favorite waterpark?  Are you going this summer?

More from Samantha Brown:

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10 Best Boardwalks for Summertime Fun

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