Water parks in Houston are as essential to summer survival as air conditioning and ice cream. They bring surfing, raft racing and tubing to the city for some wet and wild fun. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Houston's water parks.
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island is the largest water park in the Houston area, boasting over 33 water adventures, more than a mile of tubing, as well as 12 shaded attractions. With free parking, tube rental, life jackets and an open-door policy regarding coolers and food -- although glass and alcohol are prohibited -- it is the place to take the family on hot summer days.
Breathtaking PlungesSchlitterbahn is nationally recognized as a pioneer in cutting-edge water park rides and the Dragon Blaster is no exception. Just one of four rides in the park with breathtaking plunges for adrenaline-pumping fun, it is the first uphill water coaster in the world.
Indoor And Outdoor FunTwo outdoor areas, Blastenhoff and Surfenburg, and one heated, indoor area called Wasserfest, provide families with acres of attractions to choose from. This includes body surfing in the Boogie Bahn, and the slides and sprays of toddler-geared Tiki Tikes. Every water-loving child will enjoy the new Shipwreck Harbor, a beached ship kids’ slide, and the clam shell slide. For thrills, adults won't want to miss Thunder Tub, Guada Loopy, or Cliffhanger, and for a chance for the whole family to chill together, head to Kristal Beach or the Wave Lagoon.
Texas BBQSchlitterbahn's food services offer a pleasing mix of traditional park fare, Texas-style barbeque and healthy options for the hungry patron. Everything from burgers and pizza to brisket and slow smoked ribs to salads and wraps are on the menu. Looking for something sweet? Ice cream, freshly-baked cookies and funnel cakes will hit the spot.
Safety RecordAccording to the non-profit organization Safe Parks the highest percentage of injuries in a water park occur on a water slide, with the most commonly reported accident being the patron's body striking something. Reports provided by the Texas Department of Insurance, which oversees the Amusement Ride Safety Inspection and Insurance Act in Texas, document an average of 16 injuries per year for the last five years at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island. The listed injuries included bruises, abrasions and lacerations, although no fatal accidents occurring.
Address: 2026 Lockheed, Galveston, Texas
Hours: Summer Season: April through September; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours as the season progresses. Heated Indoor Season: March through April and September through December; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: $43.99 adults, $34.99 seniors and children ages 3-11
SplashTown, one of the Houston area's oldest water parks, is full of thrilling water rides for the adrenaline junkie, but also provides areas to loll about in the water, as well as plenty of adventure for little kids. Set in a woodsy area north of Houston, it is an easy escape from the heat of the city.
The Sting Ray RacerAdded in 2010, the Sting Ray Racer claims to be the longest, largest Octopus Racer in Texas. This ride takes visitors with their five friends and "speed slide" foam mats head-first through a series of tubes falling five stories in a race to the finish line.
Monkey AroundSplashTown gives the water park fanatic classic thrill rides like the Texas Free Fall, the Tornado, and RipQurl, along with Space Rapids and Thunder Run raft rides. For families with children, monkeying around in Tree House Island and Leaky Pipes is loads of fun. Tubing enthusiasts will get a laid-back vibe on the Guadalupe River Adventure.
Classic Park FareSplashTown does not allow any outside food or beverages into the park, but provides a number of options for keeping the family fed. Several eateries scattered throughout the park provide fast-food fare from nachos to sausage-on-a-stick. Visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth with caramel apples, funnel cakes, ice cream, fudge and cookies. How, visitors who choose to bring their own food must utilize the picnic area adjacent to the parking lot.
Safety RecordThe Texas Department of Insurance, which oversees the Amusement Ride Safety Inspection and Insurance Act in Texas, documented one injury in 2010 and six in 2009 at SplashTown Houston, the only two years with data available under the current owner. The listed injuries included bruises, abrasions and lacerations, but no fatalities.
Address: 21300 I-45 North, Spring, TX 77373
Hours: Open weekends in May and September; daily July through August; Hours vary, but 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days
Price: $34.00 plus tax for Guests over 48"; $26.99 plus tax for Guests under 48", Free for Children under 2; Parking $10
Other Noteworthy Parks Near HoustonMoody Gardens Palm Beach
Bellaire Town Square Family Aquatic Center
Cinco Ranch Water Park
La Torretta Lake Resort Aqua Park
What's your favorite water park in the Houston area?
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