The 6 Best Indoor Water Park Resorts to Visit This Summer
Summer is here and it's hot outside!! Families want to go on vacation, but where to go? Florida - and suffer through 95 degree temperatures and 95% humidity that makes it feel like 110 degrees outside? Nah! California - lovely weather but the water is freezing! The Caribbean or Mediterranean? Who can afford that? Maybe Australia...
One viable alternative to a tropical vacation in the tropics (where else?) is to visit an indoor water park. Indoor water parks are open year-round, making that tropical vacation possible in the dead of winter. And best of all, as a resort, everything is right there at the same facility - water park (some of these have more than one!), restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs, play areas, arcades, gift shops... everything you need while on vacation.
The name sounds fun, doesn't it? Coco Key has resorts in 11 cities in 8 states, a testament to how much fun visitors have this resort chain. The tagline online reads: "Think of it as a tropical aquarium for people." I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to live underwater!
The resort theme follows that of the Florida Keys and Jimmy Buffet - bright colors, sunny tropical features and all of the resorts feature the best water park attractions - wavepools, toddler pools, teen pools, thrilling rides, surf pools and beaches.
Aquatics International named Coco Key Water Resorts “best aquatics of 2009”.
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge, like Coco Key, is a chain of indoor water park resorts. There are locations in North Carolina, Washington, Texas, Kansa, Canada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia, with two each in Ohio and Wisconsin.
The Great Wolf resorts are designed to capture the atmosphere of the Northwoods. The rooms are rustically-appointed, with suites featuring a Great Wolf signature item for the kids, the Wolf Den. The Wolf Den is a cave-inspired sleeping area for the kids with their own bunk beds and TV. The restaurants are all themed as well. The water park in each resort is, of course, the central attraction. Each resort, except Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has several water parks, each with a different age group in mind, from whole families to teens, tweens and toddlers. The water parks remain 84 degrees year-round for fun in the perfect tropical weather no matter what the weather outside is doing.
The Great Wolf Lodges have been named to USA Today’s “Top 10 places to warm up”, Family Fun’s “Top family resorts in the Midwest”, and Reader’s “100 best ‘time off’ locations”. For thousands of families every year, “there’s no time like a Great Wolf time.”
Kalahari Resorts has water park resorts in Wisconsin, Ohio and Virginia. The main theme of the resort chain is that of an African nature with artificial trees, animals and fountains in the lobbies of the hotels, and rides named after animals. The resorts each feature a huge indoor water park, 100,000 square feet of trade show or convention space, a theme park, restaurants, shops, full-service spa, fitness center, and mini golf.
The water parks offer those animal-themed rides, such as Rippling Rhino and Wild Wildebeest, as well as private cabanas, Flowriders for surfing or boogie boarding, a 12,000 square foot wavepool, lazy river and Texlon roof for tanning.
The Wisconsin Dells location features 125,000 square feet of indoor water park, the largest in Wisconsin, and 100,000 square feet of theme park which includes a six-story ferris wheel, laser tag, go-karts, rock climbing, and an 18-hole golf course. When the Virginia location opens in 2012, it will have the largest indoor water park in the US (an amazing 200,000 square feet) and an indoor theme park like the Wisconsin Dells location.
Kalahari Resorts was awarded the 2006 Partners for Clean Air Recognition Award. Their website touts several ways the resort family leads the hotel industry in energy conservation.
Six Flags Great Escape
Six Flags is known to many 30+ somethings as the first big water company. They have been buying, updating, running, opening and surpassing the industry in water parks for over 20 years. Many people remember their first great water park experience at a Six Flags location.
The Great Escapes Lodge in Lake George, New York combines a water park with a theme park and a Northwoods-style lodge. Splashwater Kingdom, the water park part, has several great attractions, including rides such as Twister Falls - a water slide with waterfall and two steep drop, Black Cobra - enclosed water slides in which riders use inflatable boats, Capt'n Hook's Adventure River - basically a lazy river ride on which visitors can use a tube or swim freely, and Noah's Sprayground for children.
Great Escapes, the theme park park, has six roller coasters, as well as Ghosttown which is an old-west themed village, Looney Tunes National Park with animal attractions for kids, and Fest Area with several rides and a Bavarian theme.
Tropical Islands Resort
Tropical Islands Resort is the largest indoor water park in the world. It is an amazing 710,000 square feet and probably has the most unique location - inside an old airship (blimp) hangar in Krausnik, Germany.
The indoor pool holds 8,000 people and is supposed to be the world's largest. As with any large indoor water park, Tropical Islands features a huge wavepool, the Tropical Sea for swimming and paddling, water rides and Bali Lagoon also for swimming or relaxing in a jungle paradise setting.
To add to the exotic feel of this resort, designers added The Rainforest filled with orchids, 500 species of plants, and 29,000 trees, plants and creeper vines. Completing the ambiance, rainforest sounds are piped in through speakers disguised as rocks. The Rainforest is a natural biotope and will be allowed to grow without restriction with the hope of creating a true indoor rain forest canopy.
Tropical Islands offers a variety of lodging accommodations including hotels, cabins and tent camping and one of the most unique rides of any water park - hot air balloon rides within the hangar. Add mini golf, restaurants and bars, shopping and a fitness center, and this resort is one all-inclusive spot that will be hard to resist.
Wilderness Territory in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin is easily the United States’ largest water park, with over 500,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor water parks. Three indoor water parks and a kiddie water park are 250,000 square feet of indoor water fun. Rides include two high-speed body slides, a Lazy River, family raft ride, bumper boats, and two multi-sensory ProSlide rides. All parks include restaurants and snack bars. Another four outdoor water parks with over 250,000 square feet await summer visitors. Wilderness Resort outshines many other water park resorts. Besides aquatic enjoyment, it features two indoor and one outdoor mini golf courses, an 18-hole championship golf course, a zipline canopy, arcade, laser arena, bumper boats and go-carts. Add fine-dining restaurants, laid-back cafes, shops, fitness centers and beautiful lodging accommodations, and Wilderness Resort adds up to a world-class vacation spot. Other Wilderness Territory resorts can be found in Tennessee – Wilderness at the Smokies – and the as-yet-unopened Wilderness in the Ozarks in Hollister, Missouri.
If water fun without the heat and boat sounds like the perfect vacation, take a closer look at the world’s best water park resorts. With so much indoor fun available, waiting until summer to enjoy the fun and sun is no longer necessary. Besides, the world’s best are found right here at home.
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© 2010 Cristina Vanthul