Summer is well under way, which means summer vacations, summer barbecues and – unfortunately enough – summer swelter. As an alternative to your overcrowded neighborhood or backyard pool, why not check out one of the world’s best water parks? Amusement parks both stateside and abroad are competitively raising the bar each season, rolling out in-your-face wave pools, funnel slides and water coasters that’ll test the bravery of even the strongest souls.
Now, we here at Cheapflights aren’t saying that you should book a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or Guangzhou, China solely for their water slide offerings – or are we?
Chimelong Water Park – China
If what matters to you are death defying slides and extraordinarily exciting coasters sprawled across the largest water park in the world, then Chimelong Water Park could potentially be for you. Situated in Guangzhou, China, Chimelong opened in 2007, debuting the world’s largest wave pool, the world’s longest lazy river and arguably the world’s greatest water ride – the Behemoth Bowl. Four riders sit facing each other in a tube, drop 20 meters into a gigantic bowl, and let the centrifugal force drive them rapidly in dizzying circles until they’re dropped down a central chute into a waiting pool. Be advised: Those who faint easily should watch from the viewing deck.
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Noah’s Ark Water Park – Wisconsin, United States
The United States’ largest water park is an oasis for Midwesterners, eager for a summer dip with no ocean in sight. Noah’s Ark Water Park pulls out all the stops across 70 acres. Bragging rights begin with two wave pools, two rivers, a lagoon pool, four children’s play areas and more than 60 delightfully impressive slides. The Scorpion’s Tail, voted the No. 1 Thrill Ride for 2010 by the Travel Channel, is a 10-story, nearly vertical slide that drops you more than 50 feet per second. Need we say more?
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Las Cascada Water Park – Puerto Rico
Not that you need another excuse to visit Puerto Rico – the turquoise seas and dynamic culture should be enough of a draw. But Las Cascada Water Park in Aguadilla is not to be missed. The largest water park in the Caribbean, Las Cascada offers attractions for adventurists of all ages. Bring the entire family to explore the Crazy River, a manmade whitewater challenge, the Speed Slides, the Twister or – for family members with heart conditions – the Tropical Lazy River.
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World Waterpark – Alberta, Canada
Water enthusiasts have frolicked in faux waves at World Waterpark in Edmonton, Alberta, for more than 20 years – though the park’s age doesn’t show. The world’s largest indoor water park welcomes swimmers year-round to zip down more than 17 chutes as high as 83 feet and tackle swells in the world’s biggest indoor wave pool. The best part of this tropical paradise: It’s situated inside West Edmonton Mall, a behemoth mall, wonderfully stocked with a golf course, ropes course, theaters and – obviously – retail stores.
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Water Country USA – Virginia, United States
Malibu Pipeline. Rock ‘n’ Roll Island. Hubba Hubba Highway. The 1950s-themed water park in Williamsburg, Virginia, doesn’t hold back when it comes to naming its surf-esque attractions. Nor when it comes to building water slides, either. In 2011, Water Country USA premiered Vanish Point, an adrenaline rush-of-a-ride that’s not at all for the faint of heart. Riders are given two options: either step into a box where the floor physically drops out from under you, or start horizontally and drop immediately down after take-off. Either way, you’re plummeting 75 feet at nearly 40 miles per hour. Cowabunga, indeed.
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Schlitterbahn – Texas, United States
Schlitterbahn is synonymous with water parks for many Americans, especially those in the good ol’ South. “America’s first water park” opened in 1979 in New Braunfels as an escape for locals looking to beat the heat during stifling Texas summers. Over the past 30 years, the resort has expanded and now operates in three other locations: South Padre and Galveston, Texas, and Kansas City, Kansas. The well-kept chain offers miles of uphill water coasters, slides and wave rivers – perfect for grandparents and grandkids alike.
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Sandcastle Waterpark – United Kingdom
It might not initially be on your list of castles to visit in the United Kingdom but, for a break from the ordinary, add it. Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool is the UK’s largest indoor water park, offering up more than 18 water attractions and a day’s worth of fun for the whole family to enjoy. Let the kids navigate the Caribbean Storm Treehouse while those over four feet brave the largest water coaster in the world – the Master Blaster. For a break from the British bustle, grab a mat and float down the Ushi-Gushi River Creek (translation: lazy river).
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Sunway Lagoon – Malaysia
After snapping a few photos of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Petronas Towers, hop a bus 20 minutes from Malaysia’s capital to the majestic Sunway Lagoon Theme Park. Aqua attractions like twin speed slides and a waterfall garden cover 80 acres of adventurous terrain. The massive park is divided into different themed areas, including a dry amusement park, the Extreme Park (think ATV riding and paintball games) and the Wildlife Park. Divide your time among them all, but remember to save at least a couple of hours for private surfing lessons at the Sunway Surf Beach.
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Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World – Australia
Trust Australians to get a water park right. Located in Oxenford, Queensland, Wet ‘n’ Wild welcomes thrill seekers looking to swim and slide down no-nonsense attractions. Tornado, Kamikaze and Blackhole – where two riders simultaneously race down two eerily snake-like slides in complete darkness – are just a few of the cryptically named amusements. The park heats its pools and slides – and the Whirlpool Hot Springs – in winter months so tourists can enjoy the park year-round.
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Wet ‘n Wild – Mexico
Unafraid of sounding monotonous, we’re adding another Wet ‘n Wild to the list. And Cancun’s makes the cut, why? Because – naturally – you get the chance to swim with dolphins at this Wet ‘n Wild. In between bumper boats, wave pools, and water-filled chutes, get up close with the friendly mammals – even swim with them if you’d like. Located right on the waterfront, the park’s a great idea for a refreshing afternoon away from Cancun’s blazing beaches.
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