The only thing better than a theme park… is a water park! Cool off at one of these outdoor water parks, where slides, tube rides, lazy rivers, spray grounds and even beaches abound. These are the top 10 outdoor water parks for 2018.
Written by Lissa Poirot and Morgan Agesen
Universal's Volcano Bay
Opened in 2017, Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando Resort's third theme park and one of our favorite outdoor water parks for families. The water park transports families to French Polynesia with every detail -- from "beaches" to fruity cocktails and mocktails -- and offers a wide variety of rides for every age group. It also offers several family rides, including gorgeous lazy rivers. The centerpiece of it all is Krakatau, the iconic volcano with waterslides inside!
Located at Kings Dominion in Ohio, this 20-acre water park features the 360-degree looping Aqua Blast chute ride, the single or double raft Thunder Falls ride with intense drops and turns, the 65-foot-tall Paradise Plunge waterslide complex and the kid-friendly Splash Island play zone with water jets and smaller waterslides.
A newcomer to our list of the top 10 outdoor water parks, Splashin' Safari (next to Holiday World) in Santa Claus, Indiana, is getting two new attractions in 2018: Tembo Falls and Tembo Tides, a new water play area with eight slides and a wave pool! The attraction is designed for children 54 inches in height or less. Teens will enjoy their own size thrills on the Mammoth Water Coaster, Jungle Racer, Wildebeest and more.
Part of Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, is Carolina Harbor Waterpark, which made its debut in 2016. Attractions include Blackbeard's Revenge, a six-story waterslide complex with three attractions: Pirate's Plank and Cannonball Drop; Seaside Splashworks, a two-acre family play area; and Kiddy Hawk Cove, an area inspired by Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in the Outer Banks. Here, families can spray each other with jets, splash around and more!
Dollywood's Splash Country in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, deep in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, features nearly two dozen rides and attractions, including not one, but two children's playground areas for younger kids. For thrills, take a ride on Tennessee's first and only water coaster, RiverRush, for a white water race, or plunge 140 feet along the dual Fire Tower Falls slides.
LEGOLAND California and LEGOLAND Florida feature some really fun outdoor water parks for children ages 2 through 10. The Chima Water Parks combine water fun and giant LEGO models with splash areas, waterslides, pools, lazy rivers and sandy beaches. Kids will especially enjoy Build-a-Raft, where they can build their own raft out of LEGOs.
Six Flags is popular as is, and in Atlanta, the outdoor water park offers an escape from the heat at its neighboring White Water theme park. The Dive Bomber waterslide has guests stand in a clear capsule with a trap door. When the door opens, riders drop more than 100 feet at nearly 90 degrees in a zero-gravity experience. White Water also offers nearly two dozen water rides and attractions, including a small lazy river, splash zones and little rides for the younger set, family rides, scream-inducing waterslides, dive-in movies and more.
What's better than the Outer Banks? A water park in the Outer Banks! When you've had enough of the beach, head to H2OBX. The outdoor water park, which debuted in 2017, offers thrill rides for big kids, tame rides and spraygrounds for little kids, and rides for the whole family to enjoy together.
Yes, the "Sweetest Place on Earth" has an outdoor water park! The Boardwalk, located at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, offers more than 16 attractions -- including the all-new Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Whitecap Racer. We also love Waverider, a surfing simulator!
After you've had your fill of the coasters at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, head down the road to White Water Branson and cool off! The 13-acre outdoor water park offers speed slides for those who want more thrills, or a wave pool and lazy river for those who just want to relax. Young kids will be happily entertained at Splashaway Cay and Coconut Cove.