Saturday, 23 June 2012

America's coolest water parks

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon (Photo: Ruth Tomlinson/Robert Harding/Ne)
If you think that the most exciting rides in a water park still involve a log flume or mat slide, then you, my friend, are all wet. Water-swishing half-pipes, free-fall slides dropping riders from close to ten stories high, and near-vertical looping slides that shoot riders like cannonballs at 40 mph are just a few samples of how today’s parks are making a splash.

The 70-acre Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas, lands on our list with its brand-new star of the show—the Falls, billed as “the World’s Longest Waterpark Ride” and offering 3,600 feet of waves, rapids and waterfalls for tubers. And overlooking the Falls are new, cool-looking Treehaus accommodations and suites.

In Pictures: America’s Coolest Water Parks

Grownup kids aren’t the only ones being catered to by the coolest water parks. Actual little ones, obvious fans of wet and wild fun, are getting some serious upgrades this season.

“Parks that want to attract younger children have been introducing highly themed, interactive play structures that function like water playgrounds,” notes Aleatha Ezra, of the World Waterpark Association, a trade organization for water parks and their suppliers. “They now feature hundreds of interactive spray guns, buckets and showers, and might have multiple slides coming off them, as well as climbing structures and dump buckets.”

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Florida

The most-visited water park in the world with more than 2 million guests a year (according to 2010 statistics of the Themed Entertainment Association) is this Disney World water park (which joins one other at Disney World, Blizzard Beach, with just under 2 million visitors a year). Standout features include Surf Pool, the country’s largest wave pool, churning out six-foot waves in an area the size of two football fields; Shark Reef, where brave swimmers can snorkel with two types of sharks; and the brand new Crush ’n’ Gusher, a 400-foot whitewater raft ride that’s stocked with steep plunges and hairpin turns.

Splashin' Safari & Holiday World (Photo:

Splashin' Safari & Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana

This two-in-one park just unveiled the world’s longest waterslide—the Mammoth, stretching a whopping 1,763 feet long and using special “hydromagnetic” technology to whisk riders both up and down in circular, six-person rafts. It’s also home to the previous longest water coaster, the Wildebeest, as well as the popular Pilgrim’s Plunge, the world’s tallest water ride. That hauls passengers up 13 stories in a boat-like elevator and then drops them, at a 45-degree angle, to a major splash.

Schlitterbahn (Photo: Schlitterbahn)

Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas

One of four parks in the Schlitterbahn collection (three in Texas, one in Kansas), this 70-acre favorite rises to the top because of the innovative, brand-new section it unveiled in late 2011: Tubenbach, with several new beaches and attractions, interconnected by the new star of the show—the Falls, billed as “the World’s Longest Waterpark Ride” and offering 3,600 feet of waves, rapids and waterfalls for tubers. Also in this new section are Treehaus accommodations and suites, overlooking the Falls, and various lounge areas.

Aquatica: Sea World's Water Park (Photo: Aquatica)

Aquatica: Sea World's Water Park, Orlando, Florida

This aquatic wonderland is where you’ll find 80,000 square feet of man-made sandy beaches, the Omaka Rocka half-pipe, the super-fast 1,500-foot-long rapids, and 38 slides—including the 250 feet of clear, underwater tube slides that zip you through a dolphin-stocked aquarium. (Also worth noting is its just-opened sister property, the Aquatica at Sea World San Antonio, offering a South Seas theme and standout rides including Stingray Falls, a family raft ride that winds through a glass-walled, underwater grotto filled with stingrays and tropical fish.)

Noah's Ark (Photo: Noah's Ark)

Noah's Ark, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Billing itself as “America’s Largest Waterpark,” this 70-acre destination has a whopping 51 water slides, including the new Quadzilla, a four-lane head-first mat racer; Black Anaconda, a quarter-mile-long, 30-mph raft ride with various twists and humps; and the 10-story-high Scorpion’s Tail, a near-vertical looping waterslide loop. (Wisconsin Dells is, oddly enough, home to the largest concentration of indoor and outdoor water parks—28!—on the planet.)

Wet 'n Wild (Photo: Wet 'n Wild)

Wet 'n Wild, Orlando, Florida

The first “official” water park ever created, according to the World Waterpark Association, this sprawling Orlando attraction has near-vertical speed slides and tube adventures, plus a couple of distinctive claims to fame—a relatively high number (eight) of multi-person rides, and a unique area called the Wake Zone, offering Wake Skating, or being pulled around the lake on a wake board via cable; the Knee Ski, kneeboarding while you’re pulled by a cable; and the Wild One, during which you’re towed on a tube by a jet-skier. Also, new in June is Blastaway Beach, a sandcastle-themed wonderland for kids that will bring15,000 square feet of pools, soakers, slides.

Water World (Photo: Michael Martin/Water World)

Water World, Denver, Colorado

Calling itself “America’s Biggest. America’s Best,” this 64-acre, 49-ride park features thrill rides like Voyage to the Center of the Earth, a raft ride that takes you through a creepy, pitch-dark stretch filled with growling prehistoric creatures; Revolution, a six-story slide through the dark that drops you spinning into a massive bowl; and, brand-new in June, the Mile High Flyer, a “hydromagnetic” water coaster that takes you flying up and down for two full minutes of fun and fear.

Six Flags' White Water (Photo: Six Flags, White Water)

Six Flags' White Water, Atlanta, Georgia

One of many Six Flags water parks across the nation, this standout offers 50 rides, including the 9-story Cliffhanger, one of the tallest free-fall slides in the world. It’s also where you’ll find the Dragon’s Tail, 250-foot triple drop body slide, and the scream inducing Tornado raft slide, dropping riders more than seven stories into a 60-foot-tall, 132-foot-long water funnel, then through 5,000 gallons of churning water.


Caro * said...

Amazing place, hope that one day, I can go here !! :)

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