Some Places to Cool Off

After fiddling around and pretending it was never going to arrive, summer finally showed up. It's been a little shy where I live, vanishing then reappearing, but it's been warm enough to go swimming so I think we should take advantage of that warmth and hit the water parks. This year instead of focusing on new rides we're going to talk about entire new parks that opened up this year.

Cowabunga Bay (not named by either the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Bart Simpson) is a family water park that just opened this year in Utah. The Cowabunga Splash portions of the park features a huge water construct which has 225 feet of walkways that are 60 feet tall at the peak. There are many interactive doohickeys including two of those weird giant buckets that fill up with water and spill out, in this case dumping in excess of three metric tons of water. There are also water guns, hoses, and eight water slides, each of which have their own names. They're called Mondo, Bonzai, Bombora, Hang 10, Hang 5, Gremlin, Double Doggers, and Maeday. (Is the last one meant to be May Day, the international distress call? How scary is that?) And for those who are feeling lazy there is the Cowabunga River which winds around for 400 feet. It doesn't have any rapids; it's just for hanging out, although it does have a surfing safari theme. And finally if you just want to take the tiny ones wading there is the Cowabunga Beach. You can get more information at

Schlitterbahn Vacation Village Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas is just barely open, having opened some attractions for a sneak peek on July 16, 2009. If you'd like to save money, have fun and gawk at the ongoing construction you'll definitely want to head over to the park. The company is offering steep discounts on admission, which only makes sense as not all of the rides and attractions are available. (Those who are watching their pennies will also be pleased to hear that the park offers loads of free amenities including free parking, free tubes and free life jackets. You can also bring a picnic basket, so long as it's not filled up with glass, alcohol or I guess Molotov cocktails (since they can consist of alcohol and glass) which is another sweet savings. I know a lot of other parks charge for these things and they can rapidly add up, especially if you are bringing a passel of friends and family.)

The park offers a separate play area for small children with a train (If you go, let me know if this is an extra fancy WATER train or just a regular train that runs on dry land.) There's a hot tub, which has an intriguing description that I'm going to quote, "Henry's Hideout Hot Tub Bar – Unwind in a giant hot tub that incorporates a swim-up refreshment bar and in-water seating that creates the perfect place to take a break from all the action." I'm just wondering how you keep the old refreshments dry as you swim away again. And how do you keep your gin and tonic pure? So many questions. There's a wave pool, which are always fun, especially if you’ve armed yourself with an inner tube, and what's billed as the world's longest tidal wave river. There are no lines for the river, which is kind of hard to imagine. Or at least what I imagine is kind of chaotic and perhaps better not imagined. There are also loads of tubes and slides and of course much more to come when the rest of the rides and attractions are completed. You can get more information here, by reading this press release, and visit the official park web site here

Of course you don't have to go to a super big, ultra fancy, expensive water park to have fun. More and more parks and recreation departments are opening aquatic centers that offer more than just a locker room and a swimming pool. The center a few miles from my house has slides, a wading pool a little hot tub. The A.V. Symington Aquatic Center in Leesburg Virginia has quite a few amenities that add up to a boatload of fun. (No actual boats involved.) Prices to get in range from free to ten dollars, depending on age and day of the week.

The park features a lazy river, which is good since raging rapids would be a little odd in a family park, a picnic spot, concession stand and loads of slides. There are bubblers and water fountains in the designated faux beach area and the pool boasts 25 yard lap lanes. (That must be long, not wide, right?) There is a floating snake and a floating alligator as well as those dumping buckets and something called a little squirt whale. The facility offers birthday party packages, which I can see being quite popular. My kids loved water parties when they were little.

For more information including directions check out the official site

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from The Books Are Better who went to see the new Harry Potter movie and says, "It's better than I expected. But it's really, really long and mostly awkward moments between the characters. It was all awkward teen romance, people making out, more awkward teen romance, people making out then Malfoy crying in the corner." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at