Water Park Rides, Slides, Thrills and Chills
When you're ready to beat the summer heat, splash into a water park. Screaming-fast coasters and slippery slides deliver wet and wild fun. You can find wave pools and gentle boat rides for the small fry or faint of heart too. Here are some of our favorite aquatic recreation spots:
King Cobra, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, NJ
You're not afraid of a little snake, are you? How about a giant one? The King Cobra, at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Jackson, NJ, won’t bite, but it will give you a good scare. Riders race along inside the body of a huge, red-and-white cobra that arches 256 feet in the air. Once your speed builds up, you’re shot out of the snake’s open mouth. The momentum, the slippery surface and the water drive you right back up and underneath those fearsome fangs multiple times. Even a snake-charmer couldn’t escape this one.
Wildebeest and Mammoth, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, IN
You wouldn’t expect to find a heart-pounding thrill ride in a town with a jolly name like Santa Claus. But the Wildebeest, at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, is the world’s second longest water park ride. Guests plunge down a total of eight hills, through two underground tunnels, and around a helix, covering more than two acres at a top speed of 36 feet per second. The world’s longest water ride, the Mammoth, is also in this park. Both give you a little stomach-dropping “air-time” as you hurtle toward the finish line.
Wings and Waves Waterpark, McMinnville, OR
Grab your boarding pass and enter a real Boeing 747 sitting on the roof of the Wings and Waves Waterpark. You'll exit on a slide—not an emergency slide, but a water slide that drops you safely into a pool. This indoor, all-season waterpark is part of the Evergreen Museum Campus, home to museums, the Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame, the original Spruce Goose, and other aircraft and attractions. The park offers water fun for all ages and meets ADA guidelines; the wave pool area, leisure pool, bathrooms and locker rooms are wheelchair accessible. While it's fun, it's educational too. Save time to enjoy the interactive exhibits and displays demonstrating the science of water power.
Dolphin Plunge, Aquatica SeaWorld WaterPark, Orlando, FL
Want to race a dolphin? This incredibly popular water slide attraction, at Aquatica SeaWorld WaterPark, sends riders hurtling through side-by-side enclosed chutes. At first, the chutes, or tubes, are opaque, so you're twisting and winding through the dark. Then they become clear acrylic as you zip through a pool of lively black-and-white Commerson’s Dolphins. If they’re feeling playful, the dolphins may race right along with you.
Taumata Racer, Aquatica SeaWorld WaterPark, San Diego, CA
The Taumata Racer is located at the Aquatica SeaWorld WaterPark in San Diego. A fun fact: "Taumata" is taken from a Maori word that means, “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his flute to his loved one.” But don't count on having enough time to do any flute-playing as you zoom down this 375-foot water slide. You'll also fly around a 180-degree turn and zip in and out of tunnels on your way to the finish line.
Scorpion's Tail, Noah's Ark WaterPark, Wisconsin Dells, WI
Feel the sting of the Scorpion’s Tail at Noah’s Ark, America’s biggest waterpark, as you plummet ten stories and scream along 400 feet of slippery tubes. You’ll start by standing in a capsule that suddenly gives way beneath your feet, dropping you toward the ground. Lucky for you - you’ll soar through a giant loop that slows you down gradually on this near-vertical slide.
MASSIV, Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Galveston Island, TX
Something “massiv” is coming. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, MASSIV (the German word for “massive)” will be the world’s tallest water coaster ride. Four "blaster" jets of water will propel this monster before the ride ends with a triple drop into a landing pool. Massiv will cover the length of 2.5 football fields, and you'd better be sure you're up for the challenge. Riders will have to climb 123 steps to the top--which means climbing 123 steps back down, if you lose your nerve.
Frozen Ever After, Epcot, Lake Buena Vista, FL
This is a wild card pick in our list of water rides, because its thrills don’t come from jaw-dropping hills and loops. Opening in the summer of 2016, Frozen Ever After will invite visitors to board “an ancient Norwegian vessel” and sail away to meet Queen Elsa, Olaf, Anna, Kristoff and other characters from Disney’s popular film, Frozen. The ride is family-friendly, floating through a frozen willow forest, past Troll Valley and up to the queen’s mountaintop palace before ending with a glide into the Bay of Arendelle. Look for Frozen Ever After in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, one of the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Catch a big-kahuna wave at the Surf Pool in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, also in Lake Buena Vista. This is North America’s largest wave pool, with waves that crest up to 6 feet high. Swimmers hear a “sonic boom” to alert them that the water is starting to swell; then they'd better paddle or be washed ashore. The pool has a deep end for diving and shallows for the "little fish" to play in. Inner tubes are not allowed, so make sure everyone can swim before they enter—or plan on watching the fun from the sandy white beach.