Skip the camping trip this year and beat the blistering Central California summer heat by venturing into the wet wilds of the water parks in Fresno, Calif. Besides the tubing, water slides, rapids and other thrilling water features, you'll find such family-friendly amenities as park-like settings perfect for picnics, sandy shores for sunbathing, miniature golf, fishing lakes, funnel cakes and spots for family reunions and birthday parties. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Fresno water parks.
At Island Waterpark, you're guaranteed fun with more than 20 rides and attractions to choose from on 42 acres. The rides are designed for adventure-seekers of all ages -- from toddlers to adults. On Drop Zone, riders whoosh down a 75-foot tower; on the Red Wave Family Raft Ride, rafts that can hold as many as five people plunge off a 68-foot tower. At Surf's Up!, five-foot-high waves attract bodyboarders, surfers and rafters. New in 2010 is the Polynesian Gardens area, which features Waimea River, where guests can float the day away on a tube in slow-moving water.
Lazy RiverAn informal poll on Island Waterpark's Facebook page found that park fans' favorite ride is the "Lazy River," where guests take a relaxing ride on a tube in calm waters.
Island LifeIsland Waterpark, as its name implies, is designed to resemble a tropical island, with plenty of palm trees and a Caribbean feel. Besides the water-based attractions, Island Waterpark has miniature golf, amusement rides, go-kart racing, an arcade and a bounce house. On Shipwreck Island, the 21-and-older crowd can sit in a whirlpool tub or sip alcoholic drinks at the sports bar.
From Chips To ChurrosThe park's concessions sell the usual amusement park fare, which includes hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, french fries, bottled water, soda, lemonade, churros, pretzels and cotton candy. You can also purchase Dippin' Dots ice cream.
Safety RecordOur research revealed no notable news reports of accidents or safety issues at Island Waterpark. Parents should be aware that a "pool party" event called "Wet Electric" has been held at Island Waterpark that can get rowdy. The park becomes an "adult playground" for those ages 21 and older, with dancing, DJ music, alcoholic beverages and other boisterous activity. The 2011 event was held in May.
Address: 6099 W. Barstow Ave., Fresno, CA 93723
Hours: Island Waterpark operates from late May to mid-September. Hours are subject to change, but are generally Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It's best to call ahead if you plan on visiting because the park might be closed for private parties or because of inclement weather
Price: Adults (48-inches-tall and higher) and seniors, $26.99; under 48-inches-tall, $18.99. Admission after 3 p.m., $16.99; admission after 5 p.m., $9.99. 2011 season pass, $69.99; Monday through Thursday 2011 season pass, $39.99. Children age two and younger are admitted free. Note: All children ages three and younger are required to wear a swim diaper while in the park
Wild Water Adventure Park
Wild Water Adventure Park in Clovis, Calif., is the "Valley's Best Water Park." The Fresno Bee newspaper has honored the park with the Central Valley's "People's Choice Award" for 12 years, from 1999 to 2010. About 250,000 guests visit the park each year to enjoy its natural environment, where they can picnic, barbecue and fish on 52 acres. The family-friendly park hosts many family reunions and birthday parties. And, of course, there are the typical water park features, with 38 slides and 20 thrill rides -- something for every age, including a dedicated kids' play area.
The Black HoleWild Water calls "The Black Hole" an "all-time favorite speed slide." Riders free-fall down the Black Hole -- so no T-shirts, jeans or flotation devices are allowed, and there is a 48-inch height minimum. The "Ghostslider" is fast-paced ride that swirls its victims around in a bowl before dropping into a seven-foot-deep pool. The park calls this an "extreme thrill ride" and recommends strong swimmers only. A signature event for Wild Water is its annual "Star Spangled Revue," which is scheduled for July 1 through 4 this year. Park director Bob Martin describes it as a mix of karaoke, Disney, live bands, a laser light show and a spectacular fireworks display.
An AdventureWild Water Adventure Park is not your average water park -- as its name implies, it is an all-encompassing family adventure. Park director Bob Martin says, "about half the reason people come here is for our thrill rides." They also come for the fishing in three ponds, the sand volleyball, the horseshoes, soccer, softball and barbecues. Martin says on the park website, "We're very unique in that we're one of the few parks in America that allow food and beverage to be brought in." Guests can use 17 permanent group sites, which feature a large barbecue pit, power and water.
Funnel Cakes And CantinasGuests can bring in their own food to picnic or barbecue, however alcoholic beverages and glass containers may not be brought in. The park has a food court and a cantina restaurant. One of its popular items is its funnel cake with strawberry topping. The park also sells beer and wine to adults ages 21 and older.
Safety RecordOur research revealed no notable news reports of accidents or safety issues at Wild Water Adventure Park.
Address: 11413 E. Shaw, Clovis, CA 93619
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The schedule does vary, however, so check the month-by-month calendar for details.
Price: Adults 48 inches and taller, $26.99; children under 48 inches, $18.99; seniors 62 and older, $10.99. After 3 p.m., adults and children, $16.99. Season passes range from $39.99 to $79.99. Parking is $2 per vehicle. Infants and toddlers in diapers are required to wear swim diapers
Other Noteworthy Parks Near FresnoRaging Waters
The Rapids Waterslides
Antioch City Prewett Water Park
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