When temperatures soar – and they’re starting to now that spring has arrived – you could go jump in a lake to beat the heat. If you’d like some thrills along with watery chills, however, head to a water park.
Most parks offer the usual suspects such as body slides, tube slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools. Many amp up the thrills with rides that incorporate crazy-tall heights, nerve-wracking speeds, wacky elements, and other intriguing features. Let’s run down 13 of the nation’s top water park attractions. Warning: Side effects may include bathing suit malfunctions or wedgies.
Instead of sitting in a raft with two buddies, like some other rides, riders have to brave The Mouse’s 120-foot-tall speed slide, Summit Plummet, by lying on their backs and going it alone. In 2014, Kentucky Kingdom opened a similar body slide, Deep Water Dive. It doesn’t offer Disney’s Alpine theme, but it sends riders diving at 70 degrees down 121 feet – one foot more than Summit Plummet.
The Scorpion’s Tail at Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
The huge water park was the first in the country to get in on the recent looping water slide craze. Riders climb up 100 feet, lie on their backs, cross their arms and legs, and shoot down a steep enclosed tube. They then soar up and around a 360-degree loop that doesn’t exactly send them upside down (the park describes the experience as “nearly vertical”), but nonetheless throws them for a loop.
Zero-G, Canyon Cliffs, and Bombs Away at Mountain Creek Water Park, Vernon, N.J.
Another 100-foot-tall looping water slide, Zero-G ups the ante by including two loops. One of the country’s first water parks, Mountain Creek (which has also been known as Action Park) predates the manufacturers that now provide most of the industry’s slides and other rides. In its early days, the park had to design its own attractions, which often took advantage of its mountainside setting. Two of its earliest attractions remain and are among the most unique offerings at any park. Riders on the Bombs Away body slide rev up to speed before the slide abruptly ends, and they drop 18 feet straight down into a splash…