A great way to combat the sweltering heat on a hot summer day is to make a splash at a waterpark. There are a wide variety of parks all over North America where visitors can experience slippery loops, drops and high speeds on heart-stopping waterslides, relax in heated pools and embark on adventurous themed rides set in Ancient Egyptian pyramids and castles inhabited by dragons. It’s time to grab a towel, a tube of sunscreen and venture out to the best spots to get wet.
1. Typhoon Lagoon (Disney) – Orlando, FL
This waterpark opened on June 1, 1989 and has the world’s largest outdoor wave pool. The theme of the park is the “Disney legend” of a typhoon that wreaked havoc upon a formerly pristine tropical paradise. Ships, fishing gear, and surfboards are strewn about where the storm flung them. The centerpiece of the park is “Miss Tilly,” a shrimp boat impaled upon a mountain named “Mount Mayday” that erupts a 50-foot geyser of water every half hour. The parks’ mascot is named “Lagoona Gator” who is related to Blizzard Beach’s mascot Ice Gator.
2. Schlitterbahn Waterpark
The two parts of the Schlitterbahn Waterpark are separated by several city blocks with free parking available at both locations and a free shuttle between the two areas. Schlitterbahn East is further divided into two themed areas; Surfenburg, built in 1991, and Blastenhoff, built in 1996. In 1994, Schlitterbahn opened the first ever uphill water ride, known as the Dragon Blaster. Since then, they have added several other uphill water coasters, the Master Blaster and the Family Blaster. The Master Blaster in particular has often been voted as the best water ride in the US by travel publications.
3. Disney’s Blizzard Beach – Orlando, FL
Disney’s Blizzard Beach opened on April 1, 1995 and was the third WDW water park after River Country and Typhoon Lagoon. The theme of the park is the “Disney legend” of a freak snowstorm in the area, leading to the construction of Florida’s first ski resort. Naturally, the snow didn’t last long, leaving behind a collection of waterlogged but snow-less ski jumps and chair lifts. The failed resort was in the process of closing for good when an alligator was seen sliding down a flume and splashing into a pool of water, screaming “Yahoo!!!!” Thus the “ski resort” was reborn as a water park.
4. Raging Waters – San Jose, CA
Raging Waters, Northern California ‘s Largest Waterpark, offers 23-acres and millions of gallons of family fun and attractions, including the newest ride Dragon’s Den. Raging Waters features thrilling high-speed slides, and family attractions like the 350,000-gallon Wave Pool and The Pirate’s Cove- an interactive themed water fort. Raging Waters is located off Tully Road on the grounds of beautiful Lake Cunningham Regional Park in San Jose and is easily accessible from major highways.
5. Wet ‘n Wild – Greensboro, North Carolina
Founded by SeaWorld creator George Millay in Orlando, Florida in 1977, the company also has a park in Greensboro, North Carolina (Wet N’ Wild Emerald Pointe). It is considered the first major water park in the United States, and Millay was given the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Waterpark Association who named him the official “Father of the Waterpark.”