Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
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Florida is a popular destination not only for its thrilling theme parks but also for the vast amount of water parks that are perfect for cooling off on hot summer days. A fact that comes as a surprise to no one, Florida is home to more water parks than anywhere else in the United States. A perfect activity for kids or kids at heart, here are the top water parks you and your family could be enjoying this summer.
Aquatica is perfect for a day out with the family, as it provides action and entertainment for all types of water park enthusiasts. Straying away from traditional slides and floating rivers, Aquatica really pushes the boundaries with unique attractions you won’t find anywhere else. The Dolphin Plunge gives visitors a chance to speed through clear enclosed tubes next to real life dolphins, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls tests your bravery with a free-fall drop slide, and Roa’s Rapids is an adventure-packed with high tides and geysers down a fast current river.
Disney World does everything on a large scale, and they followed suit when creating Blizzard Beach, a ski resort-themed water park complete with a ski lift to reach the top of Mount Gushmore. Summit Plummit is the main attraction as one of the largest slides in Florida, reaching a height of 120-feet tall and sending visitors down at an incredible 55 mph. Blizzard Beach has zones specifically intended to entertain different age ranges, such as mini slides at Tikes Peak for young children, a rope drop at Ski Patrol for pre-teens, and a body slide at Slush Gusher for adults.
Right across from Tampa’s Busch Gardens you’ll find Adventure Island, a water park that aims to provide fun for all ages. The park’s main attraction is The Colossal Curl, a 70-foot high adventure-themed slide that hurls riders 622 feet through a maze of twirls, turns, and dips in what Adventure Island claims will provide a feeling of weightlessness. If thrill-seeking isn’t your thing, the park also has mid-range slides, a lazy river, and a play area with tons of water toys that will keep the whole family cool on a hot Florida day.
About 35 miles northwest of Tampa you’ll find Weeki Wachee Springs and Buccaneer Bay. A local gem, Weeki Wachee is a spring-fed water park with a guaranteed 72-degree crystal clear water year-round. In addition to the lazy river, water play area for kids, and Pirate’s Plunge water flume, Weeki Wachee offers a unique attraction you won’t find anywhere else. Included in your admission ticket, you can enjoy a mermaid show where performers mesmerize audiences with their ability to twirl and flip underwater with ease and elegance.
In the heart of Florida’s Panhandle, you will find Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, loaded with over 40 attractions and a few that are guaranteed to get your heart pumping. In addition to eight slides, Big Kahuna’s Kowabunga Racer allows up to four people to plunge 300 feet and race to the finish on a “speed mat” down a slide that’s the length of a football field.
Disney’s other water park is Typhoon Lagoon, a park where visitors flock from around the world for the signature 6-foot wave surfing attraction and unique underwater exploration. Aside from the world-renowned Surf Pool, Typhoon Lagoon boasts a 362,000-gallon saltwater reef environment where people of all ages can snorkel and discover exotic fish and coral that is typically found in the Caribbean. There is even a chance to see stingrays and sharks! If you’ve got extra time, explore some of Orlando’s other kid-friendly attractions nearby.
Offered as an add-on to the main LEGOLAND attraction, this water park is a favorite for families with younger kids. The park has a variety of activities including two large slides, a lazy river, and a water playground. LEGOLAND doesn’t just have any lazy river though. They created a unique Build-A-Raft River, allowing visitors to customize their own raft creation with giant LEGO pieces! After getting your fill of LEGO fun, head to The Joker Soaker and enjoy three levels of slides and a 300-gallon water bucket or explore the Splash Safari.
Located near West Palm Beach, Rapids Water Park is 30 acres of thrill-seeking fun. With an impressive 35 slides and two seven-story drop slides, Rapids is a South Florida favorite. Those looking to push the boundaries will love Big Thunder, a 45-degree drop slide in complete darkness that will give visitors a moment of complete weightlessness. While the older kids are enjoying zero gravity, the younger crowd can head to Barefootin Bay with interactive sprayers and a massive pineapple that creates a super splash.
This water theme park at Universal Orlando Resort features jaw-dropping plunges, a lagoon with a view, and a volcano with cascading waterfalls as its centerpiece. Thrill-seekers can choose from several water slides as well as the four-person Krakatau Aqua Coaster that winds through twists and turns inside the volcano. Meanwhile, those looking for leisure can float their worries away on the Kopiko Wai Winding River or Waturi Beach wave pool. Be sure to take the kids over to Tot Tiki Reef to splash around in the water fountains and the kid-size volcano.
For less than $20 a person, this budget-friendly water park is a great park to escape the Florida heat. Sun Splash Family Waterpark is a 14-acre park aimed at families and entertaining kids of all ages. The little ones can enjoy the Tot Spot with interactive water toys and mini slides while the older kids can enjoy a 30-foot darkened tunnel at Cape Fear and Power Surge, a five-story slide with a steep drop.