Best Water Theme Parks

Theme parks and water parks used to be separate entities. If you wanted to ride coasters and carousels, you went to the theme park; if you craved water slide fun and relief from the heat, you headed to the water park. The idea of combining the two concepts seemed crazy. (But not that crazy. After all, water frolickers have been riding coasters at traditional seaside and lakeside amusement parks for years.)

Today, you had better bring along your bathing suit, since most theme parks offer onsite water parks. The following are some of the best water parks that are included in admission at North American theme parks.

01 of 07

Splash Works Water Park at Canada's Wonderland in Maple, Ontario, just outside Toronto

Splash Works Water Park at Canada's Wonderland

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Summers may be relatively fleeting in the Great White North, but Canada's Wonderland offers some great wet, summer fun with a full complement of slides and water park attractions at Splash Works. Highlights include the Barracuda Blaster bowl ride, the Super Soaker family raft ride, and the enclosed Black Hole speed slide.

In 2021, the park added Mountain Bay Cliffs, which gives visitors the opportunity to cliff jump into a lagoon from a height of seven-and-a-half metres (25 feet).

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02 of 07

Hurricane Harbor SplashTown at Darien Lake in Darien, New York

SplashTown at Darien Lake

Arthur Levine

After a major expansion in 2010, SplashTown at Darien Lake got the capacity and rides to qualify as a major water park. Among SplashTown's features are the Tornado funnel ride, the huge Big Kahuna family raft ride, the 'Cuda Bay and Swirl City slide towers, the Crocodile Isle wave pool, and Hook's Lagoon, an interactive water play area for the young kiddos.

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03 of 07

Aquatica at SeaWorld San Antonio, Texas

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

In 2012, SeaWorld expanded its existing water park and lavishly re-themed it with a South Seas overlay as Aquatica. In addition to the usual slides and other water park rides, the park integrates animal exhibits. It's not as large as the standalone Aquatica at SeaWorld Orlando, but the Texas park is included with admission to the marine life park, and it is lushly landscaped.

In 2022, Aquatica will add Riptide Race, a dueling slide in which two rafts and their passengers will descend a 51-foot tower and compete in side-by-side slides.

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04 of 07

Sesame Place in Langhorne (near Philadelphia), Pennsylvania

Sesame Place water slides in Langhorne

Sesame Place

Who knew there was water park fun along Sesame Street? Sesame Place offers a good collection of water slides and other water park attractions, including The Count's Splash Castle, Big Bird's Rambling River, the family raft ride Sky Splash, and a mini wave pool that's ideal for mini guests.

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05 of 07

Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags New England in Agawam, MA

Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags New England

Six Flags

An enormous and attraction-packed water park, Hurricane Harbor features the Tornado funnel ride, the Typhoon water coaster, Commotion Ocean and Monsoon Lagoon wave pools, three different family raft rides, Hook's Lagoon, an interactive water play area for young kiddos, and the usual water park complement of water slides. Best of all, like all of the water theme parks listed here, the water park is included in the general admission price to Six Flags New England.

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06 of 07

Splashin' Safari at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana

Mammoth water coaster at Holiday World

Holiday World

Opened in 1993, Splashin' Safari was one of the earlier waterparks built next to an existing theme park. Today, it is among the best and biggest parks even when compared to standalone water parks. Highlights include its three water coasters, Wildebeest, Cheetah Chase, and Mammoth, as well as a gaggle of other slides and attractions.

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07 of 07

Zoombezi Bay Water Park at the Columbus Zoo in Powell, Ohio

Zoombezi Bay water park at Columbus Zoo.
Columbus Zoo

This one deviates a bit from the others on the list in that instead of being connected to an amusement park, Zoombezzi Bay is part of the Columbus Zoo. Attractions include drop slides, the Cyclone funnel ride, a bowl slide, an action river, a wave pool, and a water play area for younger children.