Best water parks draw big summer crowds for thrilling, wet and wild fun


For many people, visiting a water park is a summer tradition. The best water parks balance extreme thrills with areas of relaxation.

Once the Memorial Day holiday hits, everyone is ready for summer fun. While a long, restful beach vacation can be wonderful, not everyone can make that vacation happen. Other people see summer vacation as an opportunity to push their thrill limits to the extreme. The best water parks offer both the extreme thrills and the opportunity to unwind.

According to IAAPA, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, water based attractions are growing. For 2017, “more than 30 water slides and 35 new water-based attractions” will debut. The various attractions seek to offer a respite from the draining summer heat. Although the water thrills are refreshing, these water parks aren’t just a big swimming pool.

Like theme parks, water parks look to technology to go bigger and bolder with each new water attraction. From the super-fast aqua coasters to the exciting multi-person raft rides, technology makes fantasy a reality.

May 25, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Entertainers perform during the grand opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. The morning event included singers and drummers and dancers and people on outrigger canoes as well as other performers portraying the Waturi native islanders with the Krakatau volcano in the background. Mandatory Credit: Tim Shortt/Florida Today via USA TODAY NETWORK

In recent months, several new water parks and attractions have opened to much fanfare. Notably, Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay opening was highly anticipated. Although the first opening weeks came with hiccups, the thrill factor was a hit. The park’s centerpiece, the Krakatau aqua coaster inside the volcano, had wait times up to 300 minutes.

At Waterworld California, Break Point Plunge dares riders with a 270-foot tube of adrenaline-producing water fun. As the rider waits for the trap door to open, the anticipation of the six story drop is not for the timid. The long walk up the tower takes much longer than the ride’s few seconds of thrills.

Other well-known water parks add to their thrills every year. From Schlitterbahn to Knott’s Soak City, every water park is looking for a new, different thrill. Every year, the rides get taller, faster and more extreme.

But, the thrills aren’t the only reason guests visit water parks. Many states don’t have direct access to beaches. Many water parks create a beach paradise within its environment. From the long, relaxing lazy rivers to the sandy cabana areas, water parks try to transport guests to a summer paradise.

Best water parks, H2OBX, photo provided by Aquatic Development Group

The recently opened H20BX Waterpark in North Carolina’s Outer Banks offers 20 acres of water fun. This water park uses innovative technology by ADG. Thrill rides incorporate water fusion lighting to increase the adrenaline rush. Also, the wave pool features a dual beachfront entrance, which is different from traditional wave pools.

As important as the thrills, the H2OBX integrated relaxation into the park’s landscape. Not every guest wants to go from thrill to thrill. From shaded areas to private cabanas, the water park creates almost a vacation-like oasis. Spending a day at this park can seem like a real getaway.

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Before the summer comes to an end, the best water parks make for a fun day of adventure. From the extreme thrill to the soothing relaxation, everyone can find an activity to make them happy. Just remember to pack the sunscreen. A sunburn could put a damper on even the best water day.