Top 10 Best Waterparks in the United States

Jocelyn Murray May 25, 2011 No Comments


Tots and Travel Recommended

Nothing brings out waterpark enthusiasts like a hot summer day.  Selecting a waterpark adventure can be a dizzying experience with so many choices throughout the world.   The list below comprises 10 of the best waterparks in the United States (listed alphabetically).  Each is highly rated and uniquely designed, featuring a wide variety of family-friendly attractions, conveniences, amenities and overall fun for adults and children of all ages. These fantastic waterparks offer an exciting and refreshing escape for everyone, and are guaranteed to create wonderful memories for years to come.

Dollywood’s Splash Country

Dollywood Spash Country Lazy River

Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee features more than 23 water slides and thrilling rides – from white water rafting on Big Bear Plunge, through the winding corkscrew tunnels of Mountain Scream, to the plunging drops of The Butterfly. Add in a 25,000 square-foot wave pool, a lazy river with cascading waterfall, and lots more, and you have a fantastic waterpark with family fun for everyone.

Younger children can enjoy hours of good times in the children’s pool at Little Creek Falls with fun slides and an activity center. There is also The Cascades™, a lagoon-style pool with more than 25 exciting interactive water elements for children to explore. It features a giant rock grotto centerpiece with cascading waterfall, active geyser shooting water 20 feet into the air, multiple slides, bubblers, secret coves and more.

Dollywood Tennessee Waterslides

Dollywood Tennessee Waterslides

Shaded retreats and canopies are available for rent. The Riverside Retreats (for up to 12 people) offer 200 square feet of shade and 100 square feet of sun deck. A 27-inch satellite television ceiling fan, dining table with six dining chairs, two chaise lounge chairs, secure storage, and delivery of entrees and bottled drinks purchased using the phone inside each Retreat are included. Canopies (for up to 2 people) offer 65 square feet of shade, two chaise lounge chairs, and a storage locker. There is complimentary seating and chaise lounge chairs available throughout the park on a first-come, first-served basis as well.

Dollywood’s Splash Country has many restaurants and concession stands with appetizing choices including burgers, sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, fresh fruit and salads, to kids meals and much more. Outside coolers, food and beverages are not allowed in the park.

The park is open late May through early September. Parking is paid, but free with season passes. Lockers, strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent, while life vests and inner tubes are complimentary.

Experience some Southern hospitality while creating memorable times with your family at Dollywood’s Splash Country, one of the top 10 best American waterparks.

Noah’s Ark

Noah's Ark Waterpark Waterslides

Noah’s Ark Waterpark Waterslides

America’s largest waterpark, Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, has something to please the whole family’s craving for water excitement. There are 49 thrilling water rides, 4-D Dive-In Theater where fun action engages all your senses from every direction, 2 giant wave pools, 2 endless rivers, 4 children’s water play areas, and even 3 arcades for those who want to head indoors for some games.

Entertainment for younger children is superb with Noah’s variety of thrills, all designed with safety in mind. From the Tadpole Bay Kiddie Playzone, Endless River Kiddie Area, Big Kahuna Kiddie Area and more, there are kid-sized slides, swings, fountains and fun in shallow water. Beach chairs surround the areas with views of the play zones, making it easy for parents to watch their little ones having fun.

Noah's Ark Waterpark Black Anaconda

One of the longest water coasters – Black Anaconda

There is a variety of foods at the many restaurants and outdoor lounges. Some of the tempting treats include cotton candy, funnel cakes, caramel apples, berries & cream, frozen yogurt, shaved ice, homemade fudge, soft pretzels & cheese, and more.

The park is open each year from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, and parking is free. Inner tubes, mats and rafts are provided free of charge on all rides requiring them. Lifejackets and wetsuits are also free. Although free lounge chairs are plentiful throughout the park, private cabanas and lockers are available for rent.

Priding itself on safe, clean, thrilling fun, Noah’s Ark provides families with an unforgettable waterpark experience.

Raging Waters

Raging Waters San Dimas, CA

Raging Waters San Dimas

With 3 locations in California (Sacramento, San Jose, and San Dimas), Raging Waters is a roaring good time for the whole family. The San Dimas location is our top pick with its 36 slides and attractions spread over 50 acres of manicured landscaping. This outdoor park features exhilarating water attractions that include high-speed slides, tunnel/tube rides, wave pools for surfing and body-boarding, rapids rafting, a sandy beach, and more.

There are plenty of activities perfect for younger children too such as the themed interactive water playground Kids’ Kingdom. Splash Island, Little Dipper, and Volcano Fantasea also offer countless activities, slides, waterfalls, fountains and more that will bring squeals of delight to children.

Raging Waters Water Slides San Dimas

Raging Waters Water Slides San Dimas

There is plenty of paid parking in the lot. Free tubes are provided for all slides that require a tube. For safety purposes, licensed and trained lifeguards and E.M.T.’s are stationed throughout the park, and free lifejackets are available as well. Changing facilities and showers are conveniently provided, while lounge chairs and umbrellas are offered free on a first-come, first-served basis. Private cabanas and lockers can be rented as well. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own chairs.

Although outside food and beverages are not permitted, the park does sell a wide selection of food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, pizza, salads, sandwiches, and more. Food is served throughout the park in food stands and outdoor seating areas.

One of the best waterparks in the United States, Raging Waters is open mid-May through mid-September and will enthrall your family with hours of refreshing summer fun.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort New Braunfels

Photo Courtesy Schlitterbahn Waterparks


Loosely translated as “slippery road,” the German name Schlitterbahn is perfect for this fantastic waterpark. With three locations in Texas (Galveston Island, South Padre Island, and New Braunfels) and one location in Kansas City, Kansas, this family-owned park is a joyous adventure for the entire family. Open mid-May through mid-September, the New Braunfels location is our top pick with over 65 acres of entertainment including 17 water slides, 3 miles of tubing fun, 3 uphill water coasters, 7 children’s water playgrounds, a lazy river, and more.

There are many activities designed for families with younger children, such as Kinderhaven, Squirt ‘n Sliden, Polywog, and the Lagoon Kiddie Park. Here children can splash around and explore the numerous delightful attractions. Many of the slides and contact surfaces are padded foam, and pool bottoms are coated with a special non-skid surface. There is also ample shaded seating surrounding the play areas.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort New Braunfels

Squirt ‘n Sliden Kids Area – Courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks

Parking is free, as are the tubes and lifejackets. There are plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas and picnic tables available free on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as private cabanas for rent. Although outside food and beverages are permitted (no glass or alcohol), food can also be purchased throughout the park, offering a delicious fare of cheeseburgers, chicken strips, grilled chicken sandwiches, corn dogs, pizza, funnel cakes, ice cream and more.

With its endless chutes and slides, rivers, children’s water playgrounds and more, Schlitterbahn Waterpark is one of our top ten best waterparks in the continental USA.

Splashin’ Safari

Splashin' Safari Wildebeest - longest water coaster

Splashin’ Safari Wildebeest – longest water coaster

Located in Santa Claus, Indiana, Splashin’ Safari is home to the world’s longest water coaster Wildebeest, and ZOOMbabwe – the world’s largest enclosed waterslide. This family-friendly waterpark offers guests free parking, free unlimited soft drinks (including pink lemonade, fruit punch, orange Gatorade, sweetened iced tea, coffee and ice water), free use of inner tubes and life jackets, free sunscreen, and free Wi-Fi. With its lazy rivers, wild rafting rides, water slides, wave pools and numerous water-play attractions, Splashin Safari is one of the nation’s top waterparks.

Splashin' Safari Kima Bay - Santa Claus, Indiana

Splashin’ Safari Kima Bay – Santa Claus, Indiana

Young children have plenty to keep them captivated. Kima Bay is a huge, monkey-themed water complex with over 100 water-play elements to keep children enthralled. Safari Sam’s SplashLand has kiddie-sized water slides, spray arches and countless interactive water activities with a maximum water depth of 18”. On Crocodile Isle, children can splash around or play on slides, a bubbling fountain or the spray jets.

Dining options are plentiful and include pizza, burgers, sandwiches, chicken, ice cream and lots more. No outside food, beverages, or coolers may be brought into the parks. For guest convenience, lockers, double strollers, wagons, wheelchairs and scooters are available for all-day rental on a first-come, first-served basis.

Open mid-May through early September, Splashin’ Safari is certain to enchant the entire family.

Splish Splash

Splish Splash Waterpark

Splish Splash Waterpark

Splish Splash in Long Island, New York, has 96 thrilling acres of fun for the whole family. With its wave pools, speed slides, lazy river, family raft rides, tube slides and more, this waterpark offers wet thrills to delight every age. There is even a bird show that features four comical parrots competing for the title “Pirate Weldon’s Parrot.”

Younger children can swing on the tentacles of a giant octopus in the Octopus Pool, slide down the back of an elephant at the Elephant Slide, explore interactive ships with water cannons, climbing ropes, and slides at the Monsoon Lagoon and Pirates Cove.

Splish Splash Waterpark Slides Long Island

Splish Splash Waterpark Slides, NY

Cabanas are available for rent and include a table and chairs, chaise lounge chairs, ceiling fan, personal locker to store valuables, and a refrigerator. The Cabana rental fee also includes waiter/waitress service. Lockers, strollers and wheelchairs are also available to rent. There is plenty of paid parking in the lot. Life vests are provided with a valid ID or refundable deposit.

Outside food, beverages or glass of any kind may not be brought inside, but may be obtained at numerous food stand locations throughout the park.

Splish Splash is open late May through early September, and sure to entertain the whole family and easily makes our top 10 list of best waterparks in the United States.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark Entrance

Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark Entrance

Home to the world’s largest outdoor wave pool, Typhoon Lagoon is located at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, just outside Orlando Florida, and is the world’s most visited waterpark. Its theme is that of a storm-ravaged tropical bay, where the centerpiece of the park, “Miss Tilly,” is a shrimp boat impaled upon a mountain named “Mount Mayday” that erupts a 50-foot geyser of water every half hour.

With fast waterslides, a children’s area with kiddie rides, snorkeling in the Shark Reef (with real sharks, stingrays and tropical fish), and 6-foot waves in the Surf Pool, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park features a 56-acre tropical paradise full of attractions for the whole family.

The play area for young children- Ketchakiddee Creek – offers 10 different activity areas. The smaller slides, fountains, a small sandy beach, and lots of fun features make this play area a watery haven for little ones to explore.

Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark

Typhoon Lagoon Mount Mayday

Dining at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon includes quick-service restaurants, an outdoor pool bar and 2 picnic areas: Getaway Glen and Hideaway Bay. Outside food and beverages are permitted (no glass or alcohol).

Open May through November, the park offers complimentary parking, life vests and inner tubes. There are lifeguards on duty at all times. The dressing rooms, lockers (for rent) and showers are found near the entrance to the Park. Beachcomber Shacks are also available to rent for those who prefer a private retreat with wooden chairs and chaise. The shacks also include a cooler stocked with ice and bottled water, towel service for 6, and a personal locker. Premium beach chair space can also be rented, and includes 2 lounge chairs, an umbrella, a cocktail table and 4 towels.

With its many features and attractions, this waterpark is another fantastic choice for families everywhere.

Water Country USA

Water Country USA Water slides

Water Country USA Water slides

Just minutes from the Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Water Country USA is Virginia’s largest waterpark with a 1950s/60s throwback theme. With more than 30 water rides and attractions, live entertainment, and fun that take you back to a carefree time of the early rock and roll era, this waterpark is a big hit for the whole family. Some of the many featured attractions include Big Daddy Falls (a whitewater rafting escapade), Malibu Pipeline (a 450-foot tubular wild ride), Wild Thang (a 500-foot open flume fast paced slide), Surfer’s Bay (a wave pool with 4-foot waves) and Aquabatics (a 20-minute live show with trapeze acts, high dives, and trampoline stunts). Swimming lessons and water exercise classes are available too.

Younger children have plenty to do at the Kritter Korral and Cow-A-Bunga, with pools, child-sized slides, fountains, spraying stations, and lots of water play elements. There is also H20 UFO – a large water playground filled with short slides, spray jets, a waterfall, and many interactive water features to delight young children for hours.

Water Country USA

Water Country USA

Water Country USA provides free life vests in a variety of sizes, but guests are allowed to bring their own. Private cabanas are available for rent and include one round table with four chairs, two lounge chairs, two beach chairs, a complimentary locker, beach towels, suntan lotion, and two complimentary beverages per person. Loungers can also be rented in sets of two with one umbrella, and include one complimentary locker. Lockers, strollers, wheelchairs and mobility carts are also available for rent. Parking is paid.

Although outside food and beverages are not permitted in the park (with the exception of baby food), there are plenty of dining options that include juicy burgers, pizza, chicken tenders, sandwiches, salads, chilled fruit, funnel cakes and much more.

Open from late May through early September, Water Country USA is one of the best waterparks in the US sure to bring smiles to the whole family.

Water World

Water world Water Park Boogie Boarding

Water World Water Park Boogie Boarding

Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado has over 44 attractions spread across 67 acres. Open late May through early September, this exciting park offers free parking and complimentary Wi-Fi access in select areas as well. Visit prehistoric times at Voyage/Center of the Earth, plunge 6 stories down slides at The Lines, go rapid-riding at Tortuga Run, go water racing at Turbo Racer, float along the Lazy River, catch a wave and the wave pool Thunder Bay, and lots more.

There are plenty of family oriented attractions for younger children at this fabulous park. Visit Wally World – a miniature waterpark, Caribbean Family Adventure – an interactive play area, the Big Top – another fun area with kiddie slides and lots of water elements themed after the circus, and much more. Tots and parents alike will be delighted with the endless water play opportunities.

Water World features certified lifeguards on all attractions, as well as free U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. Tubes are provided on all attractions requiring them, but can be rented as well. Lockers are also available for rent.

Water World Colorado Big Top

Water World Colorado Big Top

Cabanas are available to rent and include dining table and chairs, chaise lounge chairs, cooler with ice, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and meal service delivery from the exclusive cabana menu. The larger cabanas feature a ceiling fan and beverage refrigerator as well. Cabana upgrade packages are also offered and include additional amenities.

The park offers plenty of restaurants that serve up tasty hot dogs, burgers, chicken, pizza, ice cream, kids meals, and much more. Outside food and drinks are permitted with the exception of glass containers and alcoholic beverages. There are plenty of shaded areas throughout the park, and all are furnished with picnic tables (first-come, first-served), as well as grass picnic areas. Umbrellas, tents, personal shade structures, and BBQ grills are not permitted for safety reasons.

With so much to do and see and one of our picks for best waterpark in the United States, Water World is another wonderful waterpark certain to bring endless fun to the whole family.

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe

Wet n' Wild Emerald Pointe Waterslide

Wet n’ Wild Emerald Pointe Waterslide

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, North Carolina offers more than 36 rides and attractions for the whole family. Whether you aim to relax or seek out a thrilling adventure, this family-friendly park has over 3 million gallons of water fun to ensure a great time. From its exhilarating Dragon’s Den, Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, Daredevil Drop and more, to its areas dedicated for younger children, thrill-seekers of all ages are sure to be pleased.

A play area for small children – Happy Harbor – has two pools and 6,400 square feet of water fun. With a maximum depth of 9 inches, tots can play with their parents’ peace of mind. Splash Island is another attraction perfect for the entire family with a child-sized wave pool, volcano with two slides, double tube slides, and interactive water play features.

Wet n' Wild Emerald Pointe Waterslide Kiddie Area

Wet n’ Wild Emerald Pointe Waterslide Kiddie Area

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe offers plenty of lounge chairs and shaded areas for relaxing. Cabanas are available to rent and include a table, four chairs, four chaise lounge chairs, two lockers (located at the cabana area) as well as waitress service. Although outside food/beverages and coolers are not permitted (with the exception of unopened bottled water and baby items), there is a variety of food and snacks available throughout the park including tasty hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, sweet treats and more.

Over 100 lifeguards and attendants are stationed throughout the park, and life jackets are available free of charge. Inner tubes on rides that require them are also provided free of charge. Lockers can be rented to store valuables. Paid parking is plentiful.

Open late May through early September, Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe is another magnificent choice of water parks for families earning it’s place as one of the top 10 best American waterparks.

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Top 10 Best Water Parks in the World

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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