All Wet: 7 Top U.S. Water Parks

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By Anne McDonough
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 4, 2004

Last summer more than 70 million people cooled off at U.S. water parks, according to the World Waterpark Association. Here are seven standouts scattered across the United States that are generally considered to be among the nation's best (check out www.waterparks.org to find other parks). For folks who'd rather stay dry, we've included other points of interest in the area.

Blizzard Beach (Orlando)

Why it's special: It's Disney World's version of a ski resort, complete with white-capped mountain and toboggan runs -- but with water substituting for snow.

What's there: The 66-acre park is home to attractions like the 120-foot Summit Plummet (a wedgie-inducing slide that's the country's tallest), Teamboat Springs (a white-water rafting ride), the Downhill Double Dipper tube ride and Runoff Rapids. Tike's Peak and Cross Country Creek are good for the younger set.

What's nearby: The rest of Disney World, plus Universal Studios and SeaWorld . . . Tee off at 150-plus area golf courses . . . Visit the Flying Tigers Warbird Restoration Museum in Kissimmee, Fla.

Cost: $32 (age 10 and up), $26 (3-9), under 3 free.

Info: 407-939-6244, www.disneyworld.com.

Mountain Creek (Vernon, N.J.)

Why it's special: The 39-acre park is built into the surrounding mountains, integrating Mother Nature with the chlorine-and-inner-tube world.

What's there: The park uses the terrain to maximum advantage, with entry onto slides often using natural grades instead of ladders and towers. As for the rides, High Anxiety shoots tube riders down a tunnel before they enter a massive red-and-yellow funnel. Other thrills include the Tarzan Swings, body surfing in the wave pool and dropping 99-feet on the H2Oh-No! extreme body slide.

What's nearby: Located in New Jersey's northwest corner, Vernon is all about being outside. Get an adrenaline rush with downhill biking at Diablo Freeride Park . . . Follow the Appalachian Trail north to the western side of Greenwood Lake, which straddles the state border.

Cost: $27.99, $17.99 (under 48 inches), one free under-3-year-old per adult.

Info: 973-827-2000, www.mountaincreekwaterpark.com.

Noah's Ark (Wisconsin Dells, Wis.)

Why it's special: Seventy acres, 36 slides, four kiddie areas, two wave pools and two lazy rivers add up to one heck of a large water park.


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