With a total state population of less than 900,000, you wouldn't expect to find many water parks or theme parks in South Dakota. And you'd be right.
There is one medium-sized water park and a few smaller outdoor parks with water slides and other attractions that offer relief during the summer. There are also a couple of small indoor water park resorts that provide year-round, weatherproof fun.
There are even fewer amusement parks. There are no major theme parks, per se. (And yes, there is a difference between amusement parks and theme parks.) In fact, there are a total of three roller coasters in the state, two of which are kiddie models and one of which is an alpine mountain ride that isn't really considered a traditional coaster.
South Dakota water parks and amusement parks are arranged alphabetically.
Known more for its natural springs and geothermal pools than as a traditional water park, Evan's Plunge offers a few attractions such as an outdoor body slide, kiddie slide, hot tubs, and a kiddie pool. It's open year round (the indoor pools, anyway). Noted for the "healing waters" of its mineral springs, Evans Plunge also offers wellness classes such as water aerobics, yoga, and spinning classes.
It's primarily a place to visit the caverns at Rushmore Cave. In 2016, the park added the Rushmore Mountain Coaster, an alpine slide. Other features include a zipline ride, gemstone mining, and the Gunslinger 4D interactive ride.
The small, municipal water park includes three water slides, a lazy river, a dump bucket, a splash pad, a kiddie pool, an adventure walk, and a climbing wall. In addition to the attractions, the facility offers swimming lessons, water aerobics, and lifeguard training.
Splash Central is a fairly small outdoor water park. Among its features is a Master Blaster uphill water coaster, a lazy river, water slides, a water walk, a water obstacle course, a large swimming pool, and a pool for younger children.
Splash Zone Waterpark: Brookings
Splash Zone is a tiny indoor water park. Attractions include a small lazy river, a pool, a splash pad, a hot tub, and some small water slides.
Storybook Island: Rapid City
Storybook Island is a non-profit children's park that is run by local Rotary clubs. It features fairytale and nursery rhyme characters, and offers a children's theatre. Admission to the park and the theatre is free to the public, and the park itself is supported purely through donations. Special events include Christmas Nights of Light, Safe N'Sweet Trick N'Treat, and a Princess & Pirate Ball.
As its name implies, the park is themed to fairy tales and nursery rhymes such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hickory Dickory Dock, and Old MacDonald’s Barn and is geared to families with young children. It also includes The Land of Oz complete with a yellow brick road. Rides include the Humnpty Dumpty kiddie coaster, a carousel, a balloon ride, and a train. Storybook Land is located in Wylie Park and is operated by the city of Aberdeen.
The trio of small family entertainment centers offer go-karts, mini-golf, a "Euro Bungy" jump attraction for kids, and arcades. The larger location in Sioux Falls includes a kiddie roller coaster, bumper boats, batting cages, a Tilt-A-Whirl, and a lazer maze. In 2020, the Sioux Falls Thunder Road expanded with an indoor facility that features a 7-D theater, bowling, bumper cars, ax throwing, and an arcade. It enables the center to be open year round.
The small indoor water park features tropical themeing and includes water slides, a lazy river, a hot tub, an interactive play center with small slides and a tipping bucket, and pools as well as an arcade. One of the rides is a bowl slide that swishes passengers in rafts around before dropping them into a splash pool.
There are four adjacent hotels: Residence Inn, Home2 Suites, La Quinta Inn & Suites, and Fairfield Inn & Suites. The water park is open to registered hotel guests as well as day guests. Dining options include Sliders Bar and Marco's Pizza.
Slides at the outdoor water park include Tornado Alley, which features a funnel in the middle. Other attractions include a wave pool, a lazy river, an interactive water play structure, and a baby pool. Wild Water West also offers go karts, bumper boats, mini golf, sand volleyball, and batting cages. Food concessions include pizza, burgers, cheese steaks, funnel cakes, shaved ice, and ice cream.