More Fun With Water

Last week we looked at some natural swimming options (rivers, ponds, quarries, etc.) to help beat the heat. This week we'll explore some unnatural opportunities, which is not to be confused with the supernatural or the uncanny, it just means commercial endeavors like the Super Duper Slippery Slide Waterpark Extravaganza that you always wanted to visit when you were a kid but could never convince your parents would be any fun for them. We'll look at some water rides that have been billed as the most or the "est", the scariest, the oldest, the trendiest and the most boring. Grab your watershoes and let's get started.

Lake Compounce says that they are the nation's oldest amusement park. The evidence suggests that they are telling the truth because Lake Compounce is certainly not a name dreamed up by a modern marketing team. Who wants to go somewhere that sounds like compost? But all that aside, this park expanded the waterpark for the 2005 season and offers loads of waterlogged fun. The new section is called Anchor Bay and offers the Lazy River for innertubing, either by yourself or with a partner or child, with the option of leaving the river and sliding into the lake proper. Clipper Cove is a huge pirate ship-shaped play area where you can climb ropes or nets, shoot water cannons, slide or be soaked by the 300 gallon spill bucket. But the ride I find most interesting and attractive is the Thunder Rapids Raft Ride. Built right into the side of a mountain, this exciting ride propelled by 120,000 gallons of water is guaranteed to get you soaking wet and to cool you off.

You can find the tallest enclosed water slide, called ZOOMbabwe, at Splashin Safari Water Park in Santa Claus, IN. I swear, I made none of that up. You have to climb a ten-story staircase to get to the top of this slide. It's not the scariest ride, not even close, so you can feel comfortable taking your kids in the ride with you, so long as being in the dark doesn't worry them. The bright purple ride is pitch dark on the inside. Splashin Safari also has a fun themed wave pool called Bahari, which is Swahili for "immense sea," with very cool looking faces spraying water, geysers and more. This park is home to an extremely interesting water ride called Zinga. It's a four person 8 story tall slide that ends in a funnel. That's right, a funnel. You swoosh around in the funnel for a while and then drop out into a splash pool. Then, if you haven't had too many hot dogs, you do it again.

You can find the scariest water ride at Wet n' Wild in Florida. Dubbed Bomb Bay (don't ask), this slide is 76 feet high. Don't look for any helixes, twists, turns, or pretty colors, this thing goes straight for the vomit effect with an almost vertical drop that is supposed to make you feel like a bomb being dropped out of a military plane. You have to be at least 48 inches tall and insane to ride this ride. But wait, there's more! Wet n' Wild claims to have the grooviest water ride in Orlando, called Disco H20. You and three friends ride a cloverleaf raft through an "aquatic nightclub," complete with music and a discoball. Need I say more?

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in New Braunfels, Texas has the world's first surfing machine. It's also the home to Master Blaster, a ride that has won many best water ride awards. You start at the top of the Blastenhoff Tower, go down three stories then back up again and that's just the beginning of the ride. One of the things I particularly like about this park is how interesting and attractive the rides are. So many rides that are loads of fun while you're on them are boring to look at but this park is more than just plastic slides. It's a terrific place to take young children with five different themed water playgrounds. Personally I could hang out at Squirt 'N Sliden because it's got an octopus and water cannons. That'll keep me busy while everyone else is riding the dreaded Sky Coaster, a ride I cannot even begin to understand.

I had a hard time finding a ride that everyone could agree was most boring. I'm going to have to go with the decks that surround water parks where people lay in the sun and bake and don't move or get in the water all day long. Maybe they’re enjoying themselves but they look boring to me and the decks only move when there's an earthquake or a hurricane. Hershey Park in Pennsylvania gets my vote for the most bored employees. The ride attendants could have just stumbled off of an 18-hour stint as extras in a zombie movie and I don't think any of them have ever smiled. Someone should take them all to a theme park for the day and let them have a little fun.