Cooling thoughts for the coming heat wave: top 20 water parks
By now, everybody knows what to expect from your standard-issue ho-hum water park: body and tube slide complexes with funnels and bowls, deluge-inducing water play towers for the little ones, undulating wave pools and relaxing lazy rivers.
Pretty much everything you typically find at a Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, a Great Wolf Lodge resort or any Wet ‘n Wild.
The best water parks in the world, however, have been busy adding the latest cutting-edge attractions, such as magnetically propelled water coasters, inverted looping slides, stationary wave machines and interactive water games.
The water parks that set themselves apart from the rest of the pack feature record-setting slides, one-of-a-kind attractions and theme park-like water rides.
A closer look at the world’s best water parks:
20) World Waterpark — Located inside the West Edmonton Mall in Ontario, the second-largest indoor water park in the world covers a stunning 30 acres. The Canadian park features an Aqualoop looping slide, the Thunderbolt sled slide and a bungee tower.
19) Happy Magic — Beijing’s former Olympic aquatic center known as the Water Cube has been converted to a water park complete with an Aqualoop slide built by Whitewater West. The iconic building from the Summer Games is now festooned with enormous jellyfish and outsized water bubbles descending from the ceiling.
18) Beach Park — The Brazilian water park located near the coastal city of Foraleza lays claim to Insano, the tallest (135 feet) and fastest (65 mph) water slide in the world, as well as the Kalafrio halfpipe tube slide.
17) Splashin’ Safari — Located inside the Holiday World theme park in Santa Claus, Ind., this water park features Amusement Today’s best water park ride (the Wildebeest water coaster) and the best new water park ride of 2012 (the Mammoth water coaster).
16) Caribbean Bay — Part of the Everland theme park, the South Korean water park features four Whitewater West Aqualoop slides and a stationary wave machine.
15) Etnaland — The Italian water park on the island of Sicily features an array of theme park-like rides, including the Crocodile rapids ride, Jungle Splash shoot-the-chutes ride and the Dragon River log flume. The stand-alone water park unveiled a theme park this year with 27 attractions, including roller coasters, thrill rides, dark rides and water rides.
14) Water World — The Denver water park features the Mile High Flyer water coaster, a pair of raft rides with dark ride-style animatronics and themed interiors (Lost River of the Pharaohs and Voyage to the Center of the Earth) as well as the Screamin’ Mimi toboggan plunge down a roller coaster-like track.
13) Chimelong Paradise — The Chinese water park located about two hours northwest of Hong Kong features a water coaster, a lazy river that winds through a glacier tunnel and dive-in Samba shows.
12) Tropical Islands — Located about an hour south of Berlin, the German water park is built inside an airplane hangar that hails as the largest freestanding building in the world. Billed as the largest indoor water park in the world, the massive facility includes balloon rides, a free-fall tower ride and a Cirque-style aerial acrobatics show. With 50,000 plants, the park boasts the biggest indoor rainforest in the world.
11) Siam Park — Located in the Canary Islands, the Spanish water park features the Tower of Power slide through tanks of sharks and stingrays, the highest waves (10 feet) of any wave pool in the world and a river rafting ride. The Thai theme of the water park extends to the food offerings.
10) Blizzard Beach — The Walt Disney World water park in Orlando, Fla., with a melting ski resort theme boasts one of the world’s tallest (120 foot) and fastest (60 mph) slides as well as the world’s longest white-water rapids raft ride.
9) Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World — The Australian water park at the Warner Bros. Movie World theme park features four AquaLoop slides, a stationary wave machine, a half-pipe shuttle coaster and zip lines.
8) Aquatica — SeaWorld’s innovative hybrid concept in Orlando, Fla., combines a marine park with a water park, allowing visitors to interact with animals such as dolphins while zipping down see-through water slides. SeaWorld’s San Antonio park added an Aquatica in 2012, and the chain’s San Diego park will add a similar water park in June.
7) Area 47 — The Austrian outdoor adventure area takes the water park concept to the extreme. Located along a river about 30 miles west of Innsbruck, Area 47 features a tower of water slides that feed into a body of water that can be traversed via rock climbing walls, rope courses and zip lines. Visitors can enter the water either by leaping from a 30-foot-tall diving platform, racing down a steep snowboard ramp or jumping from a rooftop onto an inflated Blobbing tube.
6) Noah’s Ark — With 18 water parks and a population of 2,690, the tiny town of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., rightfully proclaims itself the “water park capital of the world.” That’s about one water park for every 150 people in town. Noah’s Ark, the best known of the bunch, boasts 51 slides including the Black Anaconda water coaster and the Scorpion’s Tail looping slide. Billed as “America’s largest water park,” Noah’s Ark also features a shoot-the-chutes water ride and a dive-in movie theater.
5) Schlitterbahn — Located in New Braunfels, Texas, Schlitterbahn has been named the world’s best water park for 10 years in a row by Amusement Business, an industry trade publication. The 65-acre water park features multiple Master Blaster water coasters, a stationary wave machine and natural spring-fed tube slides. German for “slippery road,” Schlitterbahn operates other water parks in Texas and Kansas.
4) Aquaventure — The Bahamas water park at the Atlantis resort features a trio of Master Blaster water coasters, speed slides built into a Mayan temple, a tunnel slide through a shark-filled lagoon and a mile-long river rapids ride. Aquaventure’s Dubai location rivals its sister water park.
3) Wild Wadi — The United Arab Emirates water park in Dubai features eight (yes, eight) Master Blaster water coasters, a pair of stationary wave machines, a heated and cooled wave pool and one of the tallest (108 feet) and fastest (50 mph) free-fall water slides in the world.
2) Yas Waterworld — The United Arab Emirates water park has an Arabian fantasy theme with a back story that celebrates the region’s pearl diving heritage. The $245-million water park in Abu Dhabi features two water coasters, a pair of stationary wave machines, a looping slide, a water-dropping suspended roller coaster and a SplashQuest interactive game.
1) Typhoon Lagoon — With 2 million visitors a year, Typhoon Lagoon at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., is the most visited water park in the world. The water park features the Crush n Gusher water coaster, surfing lessons in a wave pool and a man-made snorkeling reef populated with stingrays, leopard sharks and tropical fish.
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