Where to Cool Off This Summer
Water parks across the Southeast keep getting better with new attractions delivering bigger splashes, more thrilling drops, and crazier raft rides.
The biggest, best, and most unique water parks from Virginia to Florida range from those in well-known theme parks and huge local water complexes to scenic vacation parks with camping.
Waterville USA, Gulf Shores is a perfect place to play while on your gulf coast vacation. One ticket price gets you into this 20-acre water park and its sister amusement park. The water park features over a dozen water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a FlowRider surfing simulator where riders can stand-up surf or body board on an endless wave.
For non-water fun, the Waterville USA amusement park has go-kart racing, mini-golf and an escape house where you are locked in a room for sixty minutes and need to find a way to escape. There are codes to decipher and hidden hints that can help you escape.
There are more exciting Alabama water parks to visit including those in community parks and the large Alabama Splash Adventure in Bessemer.
Disney's Blizzard Beach in Disneyworld, Orlando features an ice and snow theme in this adrenaline-infused water park. Highlights include Summit Plummet, one of the world's tallest and fastest water slides and Mount Gushmore, a 90-foot peak with a number of slides. Cool off on Teamboat Springs, a family raft ride, Toboggan Racers, an eight-lane mat-racing slide, and the Slush Gusher, a speed slide.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, also at Disney World, Orlando is a laid-back, tropical-themed park, said to be the most-visited water park in the world. Standout features include Surf Pool, the country’s largest wave pool; Shark Reef, where you can snorkel with two types of sharks; and the Crush ’n’ Gusher, a 400-foot whitewater raft ride.
Wet 'n Wild, Orlando is a sprawling Orlando mega-attraction, the very first water park ever created according to the World Waterpark Association. It offers near-vertical speed slides, a tube slide, multi-person rides, and Blastaway Beach, with 15,000 square feet of pools, over 100 soakers, and 17 slides. Older kids won't want to miss the Wake Zone, which offers wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and inner tubing.
Aquatica at SeaWorld, Orlando is an enormous water-filled wonderland featuring man-made sandy beaches; the Omaka Rocka half-pipe; scores of waterslides—including one that propels you through a dolphin-stocked aquarium; and Ihu's Breakaway Falls, a multi-slide freefall water slide topping 105 feet tall.
Legoland Florida, Winter Park is a combination theme park and water park. The water park section offers plenty of ways for younger kids to cool off, from soakers to water slides. Highlights include the Build-A-Raft River, where families can design and build a unique LEGO vessel and set afloat in the 1000-foot lazy river.
Six Flags White Water, Austell is one of many Six Flags water parks across the nation. This one, near Atlanta, offers 50 rides, including the 9-story Cliffhanger, one of the tallest free-fall slides in the world; Dragon’s Tail, 250-foot triple drop body slide; Run-A-Way River, a high-speed thrill ride; the Tornado raft slide. In the Hurricane Harbor section, you'll find an 80,000-gallon wave pool, an interactive area for children, and multi-slide complexes.
Splash Island Water Park in Valdosta is located within the Wild Adventure theme park. Enjoy the Hawaiian themed Ohana Bay, with seven slides, plenty of shade and seating, and even a family style bathroom. They have a wave pool and the thrilling Wahee Cyclone where you can "get swept away in this water slide of tropical proportions."
Summer Waves on Jekyll Island offers a water park with a view of the Jekyll River. Enjoy features from lazy laps around Turtle Creek to high-speed thrills down Pirate’s Passage.
More Georgia water parks include two located by natural beaches.
Kentucky water parks include a large park co-located with an amusement park and smaller city splash and slide parks.
Venture River in Eddyville, features Wipeout, a supersized slide house that’s five levels high with three tunnel body slides, a crazy cruise slide, and numerous water interactives. The many slides range from "mild" to "extreme."
The Kentucky Splash Waterpark in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is conveniently located next to the park's campground. The center includes an 18,000 square ft. wave pool, a lazy river, a kiddy activity pool, a triple slide complex, a double slide tower. Dry off and play mini-golf or visit the arcade.
Beech Bend's Splash Lagoon Water Park is part of a large amusement park. The water park includes Cyclone Saucers, the first North American installation of ProSlide’s Flying Saucer ride where riders are spun around the edge of three saucers. More thrills will be found their Riptide which features an intense dark ride section, before plummeting into two separate funnels. The park's Polynesian Plunge drops riders from the top of the slide tower into a swirling bowl.
Mississippi water parks range from huge themed amusement parks to a seasonal lakeside family amusement center with sand beach, water slides, and canoeing.
Geyser Falls Water Theme Park near Philadelphia, MS, and the Choctaw reservation, includes eight acres of white sand beaches and crystal clear pools in a tropical environment, a splashy interactive environment for little ones, the Roundabout lazy river and the thrilling Backsplash, a roller coaster (you ride a big two-person tube), and water slide all rolled into one.
Gulf Islands Waterpark features exciting rides, miles of slides and water fun for all ages. Get your friends together on the competitive Riptide Racer where you line-up at a 45-foot height and ride the swells down through the watercourse. They also have special events like Celebrity Meet & Greets with stars from children's shows. The events list, which changes often, includes musical performances and performing animal shows.
Boomerang Bay at Carowinds, near Charlotte, is a popular amusement park featuring a large Australia-themed water park called Boomerang Bay. The water park features attractions with names like Kangaroo Lagoon, Wallaby Wharf, Kookaburra Bay, Sydney Sidewinder and Platypus Plunge. Highlights include Surfer's Swell, a 45-foot-tall, 263-foot-long raft ride and the 351-foot Dorsal Fin Drop.
Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe, in Greensboro, offers thrilling 40 mph tube slides, an 84-foot wide wave pool, and the adrenaline-pumping Dr. Von Dark's Tunnel of Terror.
Carowinds Carolina Harbor is a massive water park in Charlotte connected to an amusement park. They feature everything from giant water slides and wave pools to large play structures and a three-acre kids’ area. Just steps from the parks, in Camp Wilderness, you can stay at a luxuriously appointed 1,100 square foot, 4-bedroom cabin that sleeps up to 14 people. They also have cushy two-bedroom cabins.
Additional North Carolina water parks feature a lakeside park to a small city-run indoor park.
Dollywood's Splash Country in Pigeon Forge is a 30-acre water park offering more than two dozen water slides and thrill rides, including the Mountain Scream body slide and RiverRush, Tennessee's first water coaster. There are two interactive kids' playgrounds, Cascades and Little Creek Falls, with fun activities for the whole family. And, of course, there is the adjacent Dollywood Park offering more than 40 rides, high energy entertainment, and dining options.
The Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park, located in Chattanooga has been family owned since 1925. Its Soakya Water Park features water slides, raft rides, a zoom flume, lazy river, and an interactive water play area for the little ones.
Water Country USA, in Williamsburg, is Virginia's largest water park offering more than 30 rides and attractions, including Vanish Point, a pair of near-vertical body slides with drop-hatch launches. There are also KIDsiderate rides for younger children, including Cow-A-Bunga, H2O UFO, and a Kritter Korral.
Another large park in Virginia is Soak City in the Kings Dominion Amusement Park in Doswell. For the day, you can rent a private poolside cabana and, if you want to make a vacation of your time there, an adjacent KOA provides camping and "park model" type cabins.
Additional Virginia water parks include the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg and the Ocean Breeze Water Park in Virginia Beach.
When you look for a West Virginia water park you're likely to find primarily smaller parks. While many of them have thrilling water slides and fun activities, they will not be like the huge amusement parks you'll find in Williamsburg, Virginia, for example.