Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Defining Water Parks

How many of you have been to a water park before? If you haven’t because you live too far from it, think it’s expensive, or fear that you are too fat for it, you are missing out.

Simply put, a water park is like a (safely) flooded hybrid of a playground and amusement/theme park or a fun fair. A playground has jungle gyms and slides, while an amusement park has a lot of rides to offer. So, if engineers mash them up and just add water, they create a water park.

To Cut History Short

So, how did the first water parks come about? Well, one of the first of its kind (although non-existent nowadays), was River Country, at the Walt Disney World Resort. Initially it was to be a feature for Fort Wilderness Resort, but it was one of the first themed water parks in the world.

One of the first surviving water parks came to the scene in Orlando, Florida, miles from Walt Disney World. That one in question was Wet ‘n Wild, founded by the late, great George Millay (the father of the water park). Many considered it to be the first official water park of the United States, and it paved the way for the growth of them. On the indoor water park side, the first one of the type opened in 1985 as World Waterpark in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada.

Safety rule-breaking aside, this was filmed at the first indoor water park, World Waterpark!

Nowadays, there are many hundreds of water parks, including aquatic centers and pools with water park features.

I took this from Blizzard Beach, a water park at the Walt Disney World Resort. (image from my flickr pics)

The Features

Features vary from water park to water park, whether in the forms of hotel extensions, stand-alone parks, or aquatic centers. Some parks have a gentler lazy river, while some others have the more feisty torrent or “adventure” river.

But all of them have something in common: slides. They range from the smallest slides in a zero-depth play area to the largest ones that drop you almost straight down. A lot of them have raft slides, water coasters, inner-tube slides, and what not.

Indoor versus Outdoor

Most of the popular water parks in the United States, if not the world, are outdoor water parks. Open spaces of no walls to contend with allow bigger slides like “tornadoes” and bowls to be erected. Their play areas for children are more or less huge, with a variety of slides, geysers, water tinkering toys, and a huge bucket waiting to dump gallons on unexpected patrons.

Although on a more or less smaller scale than their outdoor cousins, indoor water parks offer great advantages. One of them is the advantage of temperature and weather. If rain or bitter cold keeps patrons away from the normal, open-air ones, they can come into an enclosed space and still enjoy the slides with reckless abandon.

As Extensions of Resorts

Water parks are not just stand-alone fun places, they can be extensions of resort hotels, known in the forms of water resorts or water park resorts. Many resorts like CoCo Cay, Great Wolf Lodge, Massanutten (in Virginia), and Kalahari feature them (mainly indoors) as their main amenities.

But they offer a great advantage: most of them let their guests in for free! If they are staying at one of them, they don’t really need to pay extra admission to go to a separate one. All they need to do is to walk to the area where it’s located and have fun. For example, if a family of four stays at CoCo Cay in Orlando and want a day off from the parks, they can come to their indoor and outdoor water parks!

Are you hunkering for a water park fix? Search for those near your area at www.waterparks.com! Whether the weather its hot or cold, you can even scout out the closest indoor type to home!

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