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.