The Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels, Texas. (Photo: Evan Gearing/Flickr)
Water parks aren’t just for kids anymore. With the temperatures rising and the number of adult-focused rides, a water park can be the perfect place for anyone – young or old – to relax. Often a season pass is just $5-10 more than a single-day admission, so you may want to splurge and hit the water all summer. And, most of the biggest water parks are connected to other amusement parks, meaning that deals or joint admissions can often be found.
Along with traditional wave pools, lazy rivers, and tube and body slides, water parks are innovating with new bowl rides, underwater aquariums, and stationary surfing half-pipes. Here are the most searched parks on Yahoo:
According to Schlitterbahn’s founders, Bob and Billye Henry, in 1966 they began brainstorming the creation of the world’s first water resort along a river in Texas. Schlitterbahn opened in 1979 with four waterslides and a 60-foot replica of a tower from Solms Castle in Braunfels, Germany. Today, the company operates three large water parks in Texas and one in Kansas, with another opening later this summer in Corpus Christi. The original New Braunfels resort in Texas has since been extensively expanded and continues to be one of the most popular water parks in the country with over 70 acres and 40 attractions. That includes The Falls, the longest tube ride in the world.
Park locations: Texas: Galveston Island, South Padre Island, New Braunfels, Corpus Christi; Kansas: Kansas City
Admission: $45.99-$51.99 for adults, $35.99-$41.99 for children/seniors
Aquatica San Diego (Photo: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego)
Along with its traditional exhibits and attractions, SeaWorld also operates three Aquatica Water Parks in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego. Right across from SeaWorld Orlando, the Florida water park offers a spot to cool off from the sunshine state’s heat. Along with poolside cabanas and traditional water slides, Aquatica Orlando’s most popular ride is the Dolphin Plunge. Two see-through tubes send you racing through the underwater home of a pod of black-and-white dolphins. San Antonio’s park, also connected to its adjacent SeaWorld resort, has 42,000 square feet of beach and features Stingray Falls, which plunges people on a raft into an underwater aquarium.
Park locations: Florida: Orlando; Texas: San Antonio; California: San Diego
Admission: $34-$59, with bulk tickets for additional parks
Great Wolf Lodge in Michigan. (Photo: Cliff Muller/Flickr)
The Great Wolf Lodges are the world’s largest chain of indoor water parks. Each water park is connected to a hotel, so you can stay close to the fun, and is only accessible to hotel resort guests. Great Wolf’s first resort opened in the Wisconsin Dells – known for its water parks – in 1997. That park, which was renovated two years ago, features a 1,000-gallon bucket that dumps over the interactive treehouse and a six-story funnel slide. The newest lodge, an hour outside Boston, opened this year with a 68,000-sqaure-foot, 84-degree indoor water park. It also has a multi-level ropes course, mini-golf, bowling, MagiQuest (an interactive electronic game), and a kids’ spa. Along with the water park, each resort has restaurants, arcades, spas, and children’s activity areas.
Park locations: North Carolina: Charlotte/Concord; Ohio: Cincinnati/Mason, Sandusky; Washington: Grand Mound; Texas: Grapevine; Kansas: Kansas City; Massachusetts: Boston; Ontario: Niagara Falls; Pennsylvania: Pocono Mountains; Michigan: Traverse City; Virginia: Williamsburg: Wisconsin: Wisconsin Dells
Admission: $230-$640/night for various rooms
Splashtown’s Wet n’ Wild in Spring, Texas. (Courtesy: Wet n’ Wild)
Splashtown is a popular name for water parks. You could go to Wet n’ Wild SplashTown in Spring, Texas, which reopened this spring with the Wet n’ Wild name and a number of renovations. Some of its attractions include Ripqurl, a funnel that drops you out into a pool below, and Flowrider, a surfing wall. It first opened in 1985 as Splashtown USA. Or, you can go to Splashtown in San Antonio. It has 20 acres with 50 attractions, including dive-in movies that allow you to sit in the wave pool and enjoy family-friendly films. Or, visit Funtown Splashtown in Maine – New England’s largest water park.
Park locations: Texas: Wet n’ Wild in Spring, Splashtown in San Antonio; Maine: Funtown Splashtown in Saco
Admission: $21.99-$39.99 for adults, $18.99-30.99 for kids and seniors
Cow-A Bunga! at Water Country USA (Photo: Courtesy of Water Country USA)
Owned by SeaWorld, and associated with Busch Gardens nearby, Water Country USA is the mid-Atlantic’s largest water park. Three miles outside Williamsburg, Va., Water Country USA has restaurants, shops, water rides, and entertainment – all with a 1950s and 1960s surf theme. The park also offers swim lessons to guests and a day pass gets you admission to the nearby Busch Gardens as well. The park’s newest ride, Colossal Curl, is 550 feet long, uses four-person clover-shaped tubes, and starts in a funnel, before dropping riders into a series of tubes and finally into a wave pool.
Park location: Virginia: Williamsburg
Admission: $50 for adults, $43 for kids
(Courtesy: Typhoon Lagoon)
Typhoon Lagoon is one of two water parks at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., just outside Orlando. The park is themed on the idea of a typhoon, with the centerpiece being Miss Tilly – a giant shrimp boat impaled on a mountain that shoots out a 50-foot geyser of water every half hour. The mountain also has a number of water slides, waterfalls, and walkways. Typhoon Lagoon was created with one of the largest wave pools of its time in 1989, with the goal of creating surfable waves. Today, you can take surf lessons for an additional fee before the park opens. The Shark Reef is also a popular attraction with guests able to snorkel in an underwater tank between two saltwater reefs.
Park location: Florida: Orlando
Admission: $53 for adults, $45 for kids
(Courtesy: Noah’s Ark)
Right in the heart of the water park capital of the U.S., Noah’s Ark is the largest water park in the country. The 70 acres include two wave pools, two endless rivers, bumper boats, and a 4-D dive-in theater. What’s a 4-D theater? You’ll feel the splashes, see objects flying at you, and even smell what’s onscreen. Black Anaconda claims to be the country’s longest waterslide and Time Warp the world’s largest bowl water ride. In 2013, Noah’s Ark also added a stationary surfing attraction, Surfing Safari.
Park location: Wisconsin: Wisconsin Dells
Admission: $38.99 for adults, $28.99 for kids
The Raging Waters wave pool in San Jose. (Photo: DebMomOf3/Flicker)
Three water parks in California, including the West Coast’s largest water park, make up the Raging Waters chain. The flagship is Raging Waters San Dimas in Southern California with 50 acres and a consistent ranking in the top 10 water parks in the country. The lazy river, Amazon Adventure, uses 500,000 gallons of water and in the Flowrider surfing attraction another 36,000 gallons of water flow every minute. High Extreme is reportedly the largest two-person raft ride in the country at 600 feet long and with people reaching speeds up to 35 mph. The San Jose water park is the largest in Northern California with an activity pool and wave pool, as well as a number of rides, including Bombs Away – in which you stand in an enclosed capsule and a trap door opens beneath you. The Sacramento Raging Waters is located inside Cal Expo, the home of the California State Fair – for which you can buy a joint ticket during fair days.
Park locations: California: San Dimas, San Jose, and Sacramento
Wiggles Water World at Six Flags (Photo: Atlanta CVB/Flickr)
The amusement park chain Six Flags, which operates a number of Hurricane Harbor water parks in connection to their parks, also runs the 69-acre Six Flags White Water outside of Atlanta. It originally opened as White Water Atlanta in 1984. White Water is made up of four separate sections: Wildwater Lagoon, Slippery Ridge, Pine Valley, and Flash Flood Canyon. Each section has its own slides and attractions. The newest is the Typhoon Twister, which drops you five stories and hurls you around a bowl at the bottom. Six Flags in Atlanta also added one of its own Hurricane Harbor parks in 2013 – making two Six Flags water parks in Georgia.
Park locations: Georgia: Atlanta
Admission: $39.99 for adults, $34.99 for kids
Related: Go Inside the New Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley
Blizzard Beach (Photo: Alain/Flickr)
10. Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach is Disney World’s second water park, in addition to Typhoon Lagoon. The entire park is winter themed, even to the point of visitors being splashed with water made of melted snow as they pass through an ice cave on the lazy river, Cross Country Creek. Most of the water rides originate atop Mount Gushmore and are categorized by three colors. The iconic ride of Blizzard Beach is Summit Plummet, which is 120 feet tall and reaches speeds of 60 mph. This is the perfect place to cool off from a hot day exploring Disney.
Park location: Florida: Orlando
Admission: $53 for adults, $45 for kids