Summer is coming, and whether you live in the eternally sun-soaked Southwest, the seasonally challenging Northeast or anywhere in between, one thing is certain: it’s about to get HOT. But no need to fret. We have just the thing to cool you down. Water parks offer countless ways to chill out while having fun in the sun. Sure, the refreshing feel of the water will lower your body temperature. But so will the adrenaline rush.
From vertical drops down dizzying heights and white-knuckle inducing water coasters to video game inspired slides and surfing simulators, these 10 wild water park attractions will whet your appetite for summer adventure.
Verrückt, Schlitterbahn, Kansas City, Kansas
Not for the faint of heart, or those afraid of heights, Verrückt holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for tallest water slide in the world. There are two other Schlitterbahn Water Parks, both in Texas, but it’s Kansas that is home to this record-breaking juggernaut (proving not everything is bigger in Texas!). Its name means “crazy” in German, but it also sounds like a word you may be screaming as you plummet 168 feet at a near vertical decline. And if for some verrückt reason the height doesn’t intimidate, its speed might – the ride can reach up to 70 miles per hour. Due to high demand, you should make a day of reservation for Verrückt… if you dare.
Slideboarding, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Las Vegas, Nevada
While Las Vegas is typically associated with its Sin City reputation, there are other ways to get wild without the gamble. The only way to lose your shirt at Wet ‘n’ Wild is if you take it off before hitting one of the park’s unique attractions, such as Zipp Zapp Zoom. While the ride has been a park staple since it opened in 2013, it received a techy update in 2015. Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas is the first water park to debut Slideboarding (which opens Memorial Day weekend), but this interactive gaming experience is sure to catch on. Raft handles double as video-game controllers and progress is tracked wirelessly, allowing riders to compete against each other in a Guitar Hero-esque battle of speed and accuracy. The park plans to hold tournaments at some point in the future. It is still Las Vegas, after all!
Boeing 747, Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark, McMinnville, Oregon
If you’re looking for a little education with your recreation, Oregon’s Evergreen Wings & Waves is ready to school you on multiple levels. This all-season attraction, located at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, boasts waterslides that originate inside a real Boeing 747. In fact, four of the park’s attractions start inside the plane, offering opportunities for all comfort levels. For the biggest thrills, try the Mach 1 slide, the only one of the four that you ride without a tube. With high speeds, tight turns and stomach-churning drops, this slide is not for the weak-willed.
Fishpipe, King’s Pointe, Storm Lake, Iowa
A water slide that travels a mile without ever leaving the ground? Seems hard to believe. But at Iowa water park King’s Pointe, it’s soon to be a reality. The park will be one of the first places in the country where you can experience the unique, unexpected thrill of a Fishpipe. From the outside, the ride resembles a giant hamster ball. But don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you. From the inside, it is all thrills. Surf, slide or tumble in this one-ton bubble for 90 seconds of exhilaration.
Mile High Flyer, Water World, Denver, Colorado
While Denver, Colo. may be the Mile-High City because of its elevation, altitude will be the furthest thing from your mind at Water World. In fact, the city’s nickname may take on new meaning after you have a go on the Mile High Flyer. Don’t let the old school click-clack sounds of a traditional roller coaster fool you as you ascend the ride’s five hills – they are purely for effect. The water coaster uses hydromagnetic technology and is the first of its kind in the Rockies. Traveling four-miles with speeds reaching up to 20-miles per hour, this fast-paced water ride is not for the faint of heart (or stomach!).
Black Anaconda, Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Travel to Wisconsin and check out Noah’s Ark, America’s largest water park, and its heart-pounding Black Anaconda water coaster. Half water slide, half roller coaster, Black Anaconda is the best of both worlds. After climbing a tower in the middle of park, you’ll board a multi-person raft, which you will certainly cling to as you are sent careening to ground level. Recover momentarily as the ride’s conveyor belt system pulls you back uphill, only to enter the first of many tunnels full of snake-like twists and turns that alternate from open-air hills to enclosed tubes. The ride ends with a near vertical slide that drops you out the mouth of the mechanical beast at 30 miles per hour.
Bomb Bay, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Orlando, Florida
While many of the slides at this Orlando, Fla. family friendly park are multi-rider, Wet ‘n’ Wild’s Bomb Bay is a journey each man (or woman) must take alone. Entering the territory of nightmares, riders are ushered into a snug glass phone booth-like encasement (meant to mirror the weapons bay of a military aircraft) where you will wait helplessly for the ground to drop out from beneath you without warning, shooting you out a trap door and down a six-story free fall. Providing a unique combination of terror and exhilaration, Bomb Bay is a bucket list slide for water park thrill seekers.
Colossal Curl, Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia
New to Water Country USA in 2014, Williamsburg, Va.’s Colossal Curl is a groundbreaking addition to U.S. water park attractions. It’s the country’s first water ride that combines a funnel slide with a wave raft ride. You begin the experience in a clover-shaped four-person raft, descending into a 24-foot funnel that tosses and swirls before shooting you through to an enclosed tube segment, after which you are thrown up a 40-foot wave element. Decorated with thick yellow stripes, the ride takes on a video game-like feel as you circle the funnel and race through the brightly banded tubes.
Da’ Flowrider, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Kapolei, Hawaii
Get the Hawaii surf experience without the risk of an actual wipeout. Experts and novices alike can hang loose with Da’ Flowrider at Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii. The only simulated surfing attraction in the Aloha state, riders are able to experience the excitement of surfing a 40-foot wave without the pesky task of having to catch it. The continuous nature of the wave takes the guess work out of waiting for that elusive perfect break. Those who aren’t comfortable standing can choose to try the attraction on a body board instead. Surf’s always up on Da’ Flowrider.
Mammoth, Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana
Almost all the attractions at Splashin’ Safari in the festive town of Santa Claus, Indiana are named for animals, but don’t let the fact that the mammoth is an extinct species fool you. This tech-savvy ride, which uses LIMS (linear induction motors) to propel you up hills, has staying power. With round six-person rafts that spin as they race through waterways, tunnels and through dark enclosed slides, you never know from which direction the thrills are coming. Covering 3 acres, Mammoth is the longest water coaster in the world – a title it claimed from a similarly intimidating water coaster called Wildebeest, also at Splashin’ Safari.
(Main Image: Courtesy of Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas)