Huffpost Travel

Water Parks In Florida: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

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AQUATICA SEA WORLD FLORIDA
Take the Dolphin Plunge at Aquatica by SeaWorld. | Courtesy of aquaticabyseaworld.com

Water parks in Florida are among the most impressive in the country: Florida is the land of Disney, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios, so simply "ordinary" does not sell tickets in this vacation hotspot for families. The water parks are bigger with faster rides, and every park tries to elicit an eye-popping response from every guest. 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 Florida water parks.

Aquatica

Aquatica by SeaWorld is unique among water parks because many of the park rides are set very close to or in animal environments. If travelers and water sport enthusiasts wish to speed through water slide tubes while dolphins play nearby or enjoy a lazy river ride through a fish habitat, this park should be the number one stop. Visitors can find video for the park's rides on the official website.

Dolphin Plunge

Aquatica's Dolphin Plunge consists of two tube slides that spiral through the Commerson dolphin habitat -- not surprisingly, the park's official website cites this as the park's most popular ride. Visitors will be able to scream and ride a waterslide while watching dolphins skip and play throughout the enclosure. In addition to having patience for long lines, riders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride and be able to maintain a ride position of crossed arms.

More Attractions

Smaller children will enjoy the Kata's Kookaburra Cove with water spout play and beginner level water slides and also enjoy Walkabout Waters, a climbing apparatus playland with giant water buckets. Loggerhead Lane, the park's lazy river, not only goes through a tropical fish exhibit but also leads to Tassie's Twister, an optional ride that involves spinning from a tower and back down into the lazy river. Whanau Way, quadruple slides of varying speeds, is also available for those wanting the more standard water park experience.

Grub

According to Theme Park Insider, three restaurants are available to visitors. Mango Market is a grab-n-go establishment providing sandwiches, wraps, pizza and fruit without long lines. Banana Beach Cookout is an all-you-can-eat fast food experience, and Waterstone Grill provides beer for the grown-ups and hand carved sandwiches for everyone. Full picnics are not allowed in the park, but snacks and foods for special diets are allowed in small coolers.

Price

One-day pass with no combinations with Seaworld and Busch Gardens, $41.99 plus tax for adults and children when purchased online in advance, $47.99 plus tax at the gate.

Safety Record

According to Theme Park Insider, there are two unverified reports regarding minor injuries on two separate water rides, Tassie's Twister and Roa's Rapids. One fatality involved a man who was pulled unresponsive from Roa's Rapids, resuscitated briefly and later prounounced dead at a local hospital; however, we found no research verifying the ride as the cause.

Address: 5800 Water Play Way, Orlando, FL 32821
Telephone: 888-800-5447
Hours of Operation Open daily throughout the year, but hours may vary from day to day due to weather. Call 888-800-5447 or check the park website for hours.

Adventure Island

Adventure Island provides something for every visitor -- from extreme waterslides, lazy river rides and water play parks for children to white-sand volleyball courts and all-you-can-eat dinners. The park's official website provides a seemingly endless list of water rides and activities that no one could fully experience in just one day. With over 100 lifeguards on staff and a dedicated team making sure that every visitor has a pleasant visit, water enthusiasts can expect to experience hours or days of fun and relaxation.

Riptide

Among the adrenaline pumping rides at this park, Riptide stands out for its originality. This ride, touted as Florida's original four-lane slide, consists of a 55-foot drop and allows a group of courageous individuals to race each other side-by-side to splash into the drop pool at approximately the same time. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall.

Fabian's Funport

Children will enjoy Fabian's Fun Port, which boasts several water play options for children under 50 inches in height. For the adults, the park offers three pool areas complete with cliff waterfalls and a wave pool, as well as a lazy river called the Rambling Bayou. Adrenaline junkies will enjoy the Gulfscream, a tube ride with speeds of 42 miles per hour, or the 230-foot Caribbean Corkscrew clear tube ride.

Grub

Picnic areas are available at the front entrance for families with large coolers. Snack coolers of less than 16 quarts are allowed. Mango Joe's, Surfside Cafe and Duval Street Market provide fast food options such as hamburgers, pizza and ice cream inside the park. Children may want to stop at Gulf Scream Ice Cream and the adults may want to settle down for a cold beer and nachos at Bayou Beach Club.

Price

Adults, $42.99; children 3 to 9, $38.99

Safety Record

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, two incidents have been reported involving slight injury. A guest reported shoulder pain after riding Aruba Tuba, and another guest reported head and lower back pain after riding Key West Rapids. Our research could find no verified reports of fatalities at Adventure Island.

Address: 10001 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
Telephone 888-800-5447
Hours of Operation Open spring through fall, daily during the summer, but check the park's official website for details.

Other Noteworthy Parks

Big Kahuna's, Destin Shipwreck Island, Panama City Beach Sun Splash Family Waterpark, Cape Coral Weeki Wachee Springs, Weeki Wachee Wild Waters Water Park, Silver Springs

What's your favorite water park in Florida?

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