There are dozens of indoor water park hotels. But not all parks are created equal. And the biggest ones aren't necessarily the best. Conversely, relatively small indoor water parks can pack a lot of watery fun into a tight space. Which ones make the biggest splash? Before you go shopping for a new pair of Speedos, dive in to these picks for North America's best indoor water parks.
Scheduled to debut in 2020 at the massive American Dream complex (which includes lots of entertainment venues, including the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park), DreamWorks Water Park isn't even open yet. But it has the potential to land at the top of the list for best indoor water parks. For one thing, at more than 370,260 square feet, or 8.5 acres, it will be North America’s largest indoor water park. For another, the park’s 142-foot-tall Thrillagascar and Jungle Jammer attractions will be the tallest water slides on the continent (at either indoor or outdoor water parks). Toss in the cool DreamWorks theme, the world’s largest indoor wave pool, and a ton of things to do, and it's easy to see why it is poised for success.
The chain of African-themed indoor water park resorts boasts boasts enormous water parks, especially its properties in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ohio which span 220,000, 223,000, and 173,000 square feet, respectively. (At 125,000 square feet, the original Wisconsin Dells Kalahari is plenty big as well). But it's not just the size of the parks that ranks them among the best. They have an incredible assortment of slides and rides (and feature big outdoor water parks as well) and they offer a host of activities beyond their world-class water parks including enormous arcades, movie theaters, indoor theme parks, bowling, virtual reality experiences, ziplines, and much more. The Kalahari resorts are veritable family vacation paradises.
The sprawling Wilderness complex includes four separate indoor water park buildings which, combined, rank the Wisconsin Dells facility among the biggest indoor water park hotels in the world. The parks boast almost everything water lovers would find at an outdoor water park. And the Wilderness offers some outdoor water park attractions for warm-weather fun as well. The hotel features a wide variety of room sizes and configurations. Its restaurants are among Wisconsin Dells' finest.
One of the pioneers of the indoor water park industry, Great Wolf Lodge Resorts began in the water park capital of the world, Wisconsin Dells. The company has evolved into the largest chain of indoor water parks with locations in every region of the U.S. (and one in Canada). The resorts and parks vary in size, with some of the largest properties in Southern California, Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains, and adjacent to Kings Island in Ohio. But none of them match the mega-resorts listed above. Still, the Great Wolf Lodges have plenty of things to do (especially for younger children), great dining, and compelling, rustic, woodsy theme.
Wisconsin Dells may have a ton of water parks, but the Chula Vista stands out as one of the best. It is one of the largest indoor parks in the town (and in the world for that matter) and is among the pioneers in the concept of merging watery fun with a family resort.
The park has a great assortment of slides and water rides. Its colorful tropical theme offers an inviting atmosphere, especially during the area's long, cold winters. Unlike most indoor water parks, which are connected to hotels, Splash Lagoon is affiliated with four adjacent motels and hotels.
Located next to and operated by Six Flags' The Great Escape theme park, the Great Escape Lodge’s hotel and indoor water park are open year-round and provide off-season (as well as in-season) fun. Although it is comparatively small, the water park packs in a lot of fun including Boogie Bear Surf, a FlowRider wave simulator, a (surprisingly long) lazy river, and a family raft ride. You can catch some rays year round since the park's roof is made from transparent materials.
The compact indoor water park features plenty of activities, including the Rendezvous Run indoor water coaster (the resort is run by coaster-crazy Cedar Point after all), an interactive water play center, and a wave pool. Even in the middle of winter, as you gaze longingly at the snowed-in coasters in the distance at the closed amusement park, you could at least have some indoor park fun.