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Adventure Island Water Slides - Attractions of Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens Water Park

Updated on May 1, 2014

What do people think of Adventure Island's water slides? Awesome? Thrilling? Scary? Exhilarating?

However you describe it, the attractions of this popular Busch Gardens water park in Tampa never fail to amuse people of all ages and swimming levels. While many of us agree with the statement, some of us, especially those who have never checked the park out before, aren't sure which slides are the most suitable. Some require inner tubes, single or double. Some end in a splash pool where you have to swim out. Some end in just a runout chute.

That's when this guide to the attractions comes in handy. People have to know which ones need some swimming, which ones can be too high for them, and which are great for virtually all ages. Whether you have good swimming skills or not, it's vital to review what to expect on the park's slides.

Wahoo Run

Wahoo Run is a family raft ride that surely lives up to its name. If you happen to park for a day at the park and you hear loud screams nearby, chances are that they are coming from the riders' mouths! The ride is enclosed at most points, with four curtains of drenching water soaking you as you twist and turn into a splashdown pool. If your child is less than 42 inches, have him wear a life vest if he rides with you.

Tip: Do Wahoo Run first thing in the morning - the lines tend to get busy later in the afternoon.

While on Wahoo Run, Follow this Rule: STAY ON YOUR FLUTIN' RAFT!!!


Love sledding? Everglides does just that - except that you are skipping down a zero-entry (0-3 feet) splashdown pool at the end. The ride may be 72 feet high, but that's a big thrill. Sometimes, you would wipeout on that one and slip off your yellow toboggan! If you are fearful of that, skip it, but those who don't worry about that (and are 42 inches of height) would continue riding!

Wiping Out on Everglides!


Riptide is described by the park as "Florida's original four-lane mat slide," but this is no ordinary multi-lane racer. You careen around an enclosed hairpin turn before double-dipping into a runout while racing at most 3 other family members or strangers.

But if you have kids wanting to race you down that ride, measure them before going - they must be at least 42 inches tall.


Calypso Coaster and Aruba Tuba

How to tell the similarity and difference between Aruba Tuba and Calypso Coaster? Both are attractions that allow single and double tubes. But Calypso Coaster is an open tube flume and Aruba Tuba is an enclosed tube slide.

Whatever you choose, here's a tip: I suggest being 42 inches or up when riding a single tube. Being that height would be easier to mount at the top and dismount in the splashdown pool. Those under the aforementioned height need a life vest.

Two Tube Slides

Left to Right: Calypso Coaster and a bit of Aruba Tuba
Left to Right: Calypso Coaster and a bit of Aruba Tuba

Big and the Not-So-Big

Left to Right: Key West Rapids and Water Moccasin
Left to Right: Key West Rapids and Water Moccasin

Key West Rapids

Some people mistakenly consider Key West Rapids, the tallest in the park, as another family raft slide (see Wahoo Run), but actually it's a wide tube slide with two pauses where lifeguards propel you to the next flumes. The splashdown pool is 4 feet deep at the end, so some swimming may be required.

Like Calypso Coaster and Aruba Tuba, it allows you to either ride solo or with a pal. Again, I suggest you to be 42 inches tall if you are going as single rider (though those under the height with life vests on can ride too). Another tip is to arrive to the park early and do it first, but you can discuss what you see across the street, namely Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

The Slides of Splash Attack

While some of us denounce it as a mere kiddie play area, Splash Attack has a host of 5 body slides to choose from - with no age restriction. Though small, they are wild enough to thrill you and they all end in runout chutes.

If you happen to ride the enclosed one on the top level, I suggest riding lying down with arms and feet crossed instead of upright like the others. (In fact, all slides in the park that require just you and nothing more require you to ride feet crossed at ankles.) Not only is it narrow, but it warms especially kids up for the bigger slides as they grow older.

Splash Attack - Easing Beginners into Sliding Since 1997

The Slides at Paradise Lagoon

While Paradise Lagoon is known for that lily pad walk, cliff jump, and Tarzan swing, it also has a pair of drop slides. But they are brief and they end a few feet above the 10-foot deep side of the whole area's pool. If you have very good swimming techniques, test them by going on the straight one or the curved one.

You Really Have to Swim to Go on Either Slide at that Area!

Runaway Rapids

If you want to push yourself out of the Splash Attack comfort zone, Runaway Rapids is for you. You can slide upright or lying down like those slides, but they end in one 3-foot splashdown pool (not bad, especially if you know how to swim at that depth). Slides 1-2 are great even for parents riding with tots in front, but 3-5 are a bigger challenge. You have to ride single for the latter slides.

Breaking the Rules at (Runaway) Rapids

Water Moccasin

If you are used to Runway Rapids, especially with riding lying down (feet and arms crossed) throughout the flumes and swimming in 3 feet of water, I suggest checking out Water Moccasin at least once. While the middle tube drops you straight down into a splashdown pool 2-3 feet deep, the outer ones curve you down. Some of them rave about the second enclosed slide but some others found the first and third ones very thrilling.

Unlike Runway Rapids, there's a height limit for Water Moccasin. If little Jimmy wants to ride that, he has to be 48 inches tall.

Caribbean Corkscrew

Purple and braided, Caribbean Corkscrew is one crazy body slide. What I mean is that you slide lying down with crossed limbs in either one of the two intertwined, twisting tubes. It really makes you think you are being tossed in a coin-operated washing machine, but rest assured that you end in a runout chute. If you are 48 inches tall and are ready to face the twisty braid, go ahead!

Gulf Scream Doesn't Seen Too Bad...

...but because the splashdown pool is 4.5 feet deep, you have to swim.
...but because the splashdown pool is 4.5 feet deep, you have to swim.

Gulf Scream

Though second-tallest to Key West Rapids, Gulf Scream is a tall monster with twin 210-foot speed slides. But they go down various slight degrees as riders descend and are not too steep.

Though not as testy as Paradise Lagoon's slides as far as swimming skills go, the splashdown pool at the end requires some to at least doggy-paddle to exit (though the fact that it's 4 feet and 6 inches deep is not too bad for some courageous sliders). You can ride with feet crossed in upright position or lying down with limbs crossed. I suggest that you ride in that latter position if you don't like being submerged too much!

You have to be 54 inches minimum to slide.

The Gulf Scream Slider in Action!

A Few Tips to Remember

Learn to swim. It doesn't matter if you are brave enough to go on Caribbean Corkscrew or are too chicken to slide Gulf Scream. But doing so can actually save your life.

Put on sunscreen. Even on mostly cloudy days, please put on you 30+ SPF. You don't want to end your day at Adventure Island red as a lobster or worse, with melanoma moles!

Measure your kids before spending the day at the park. You don't want little Johnny or Jill to be disappointed when he or she finds out that he or she is too short for Water Moccasin!

Most importantly, have fun!


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