Many water parks in Kansas are minutes from historical, agricultural and cultural hot spots and only one to three hours from Topeka -- the biggest hot spot of them all. A couple of the parks are even major attractions in their own right. When families aren’t enjoying some of the most innovative water park features in the world, they can explore Kansas’ pioneer past, farming feats and popular shopping centers. 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 water parks in Kansas.
Schlitterbahn WaterparkSchlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City -- one of four Schlitterbahn Waterparks in the country, and the only one outside of Texas -- offers fun for the entire family, from calm and relaxing beaches, rivers and children’s play areas to adrenaline-pumping rapids, chutes and slides. Throughout the season, the park hosts charity events, festivals and educational activities and offers the Splash Cash payment program, so families can use their wristbands instead of cash and cards to purchase food and merchandise. As a bonus, the renowned Village West shopping and entertainment center, featuring popular stores, sports venues and restaurants, is next door.
Three Thrilling AttractionsSchlitterbahn has three signature attractions: Storm Blaster, a water slide that feels like a roller coaster; Torrent River, the longest tidal wave waterway in the world; and the Transportainment River System, a waterway that connects all of the park’s attractions, allowing visitors to explore everything while staying in the water.
Surfing, Sliding, SoakingSchlitterbahn boasts 20 attractions, six of which were added in 2011, including surfing ride Boogie Bahn and white-water rapids ride Blitz Falls. Other attractions include Wolfpack and Black Night, 42-foot-drop tube slides; Henry’s Hideout, a huge hot tub with refreshment bar; and Torrent Cove and Kristal Beach, mild-wave relaxation areas.
Food OptionsThe park offers a wide variety of meal, dessert and snack options, from watermelon, hot dogs and sandwiches to cookies, candy and funnel cakes. Schlitterbahn also allows visitors to bring their own food into the park; glass containers, alcohol and grills are prohibited.
Safety RecordThe park, which opened in 2009, has no cited safety incidents.
Address: 9400 State Ave., Kansas City, KS 66112
Hours: Schlitterbahn is open May through September. It’s open mostly from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June through August; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. May, June, August and September; and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. a handful of days in May, June and August.
Price: All-day general admission is $35.99 ($33.99 online) for ages 12 to 54 and $26.99 ($25.99 online) for ages 3 to 11 and 55 and older. For an extra $10, visitors can purchase a souvenir drink bottle with free refills along with their ticket.
Great Wolf Lodge
The indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge is the family-friendly establishment’s main attraction, with 300,000 gallons of 84-degree water filtered through a lazy river, five pools, a fort and eight gigantic slides. Mini golf, an interactive adventure game, story time, an arcade and shows are also offered on the premises. Off-site, guests can explore nearby attractions, such as the Kansas City Zoo, Kansas Speedway, Legends shopping outlets, Sunflower Hills Golf Course, Children’s Museum of Kansas and the National Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Wild WaterslideSlide, dip, drop, twist and turn in the five-story Triple Twist funnel experience, the first of its kind and considered one of the world’s wildest waterslides. The fun goes even further at night with strategically placed lighting in the dark tunnels. The height requirement for this ride is at least 48 inches.
Something For EveryoneThe 10 water park attractions featured at the lodge include something for almost every age group. Toddlers can safely explore the shallow Cub Paw Pool and older children can jump from lily pad to lily pad at Big Foot Pass, while teens and adults can go water tobogganing in The Howlin Wolf and speed down slides at Totem Towers. Most age groups can enjoy Alberta Falls, a four-story slide that slithers through the lodge; Crooked Creek, a calm, gently winding river; and Fort Mackenzie, a four-story treehouse with bridges, nets, a soaking station and a 1,000-gallon bucket drench.
Food OptionsGreat Wolf Lodge guests have sit-down and snack-shack dining options. Fare includes everything from pizza, sandwiches, salads, hot dogs and cheeseburgers to hot pretzels, ice cream, fudge and pastries.
Safety RecordThe lodge, which opened in 2003, has no cited safety incidents and prides itself on keeping the water park safe by employing hundreds of certified lifeguards.
Address: 10401 Cabela Drive, Kansas City, KS 66111
Hours: Although hours may change seasonally, the water park is usually open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Check-in is at 4 p.m., but guests can start using the park at 1 p.m. the day of arrival. Check-out is at 11 a.m., but guests can use the park until close.
Price: Prices are included with a stay at the lodge and range from $239.99 a night for a family suite with two queen beds, a sofa-sleeper, living area and a balcony or patio to $339.99 for a suite with one king bed, two queen beds, a sleeper-sofa and balcony or patio. There are a total of eight suite options, and all suites are equipped with hair dryers, coffee makers, fridges, microwaves, pay-per-play video games and pay-per-view movies.
Other Noteworthy ParksRock River Rapids Aquatic Park McPherson Water Park Splash Cove: Jim Allen Aquatic Center Kenwood Cove Gardner Aquatic Center
What are your family's favorite Kansas water parks?
Check out more WATER PARKS.