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Top Five Amusement Parks for Water Rides

BY: Colleen Loggins Loster | Apr 28, 2016

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Since the first roller coaster opened on Coney Island in June 16, 1884, Americans have been flocking to amusement parks as soon as the summer sun starts to shine. A summer sun that beats down on crowds of people all squished together in line, causing them to drip sweat and pray that someone accidentally drops a sno-cone from the roller coaster above them. Luckily, plenty of amusement parks avoid this unpleasant scenario by offering log flumes, water slides, and other water rides.

But some do it better than others, putting as much thought into their water rides as they do their roller coasters. We’ve come up with a list of the top amusement parks to check out when you need to cool down.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure | Orlando, Florida

It’s no surprise that Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando is on this list. After all, the theme park is divided into seven (soon to be eight) uniquely themed islands, one of which is Toon Lagoon, a whole area dedicated to water rides. But water plays a big role throughout the park, especially on Jurassic Park island.

Standout Water Ride: Jurassic Park River Adventure

Claim to Fame: an 85-foot plunge in the dark. Plus dinosaurs. Lots of dinosaurs.

Riders hop on a river raft and careen past escaped raptors and other prehistoric baddies. As the ride culminates, the raft narrowly missing the jaws of a T. rex and a scolding from Mother because the dinosaur bit a hole in her shirt.

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Dollywood | Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Despite its location—in landlocked Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, surrounded by the Smoky Mountains—Dollywood is home to some of the best water rides in the country. These include the Daredevil Falls log flume with a 60-foot drop down a waterfall and the Mountain Sidewinder water toboggan, which the LA Times called “all the fun of a water park without having to don a bathing suit.”

Standout Water Ride: Dollywood River Battle

Claim to Fame: soaker guns for everyone

On this extremely chaotic ride, rafts fly down a 500-foot channel, all while passengers shoot other rafts and land spectators with soaker guns. That’s just the beginning. Land spectators also shoot rafts with soaker guns and so do the ride’s many talking, animal-themed targets.

Knott’s Berry Farm | Buena Park, California

Knott’s Berry Farm claims the oldest water ride on our list. No, it’s not the ever popular Bigfoot Rapids, an outdoor whitewater-rafting ride that bounces and spins over fast-moving currents. Since 1969, people have pulled on their bathing suits and lined up outside a recreation of a 19th-century-lumber-camp.

Standout Water Ride: Timber Mountain Log Ride

Claim to Fame: Knott’s calls this the very first themed flume ride in the country

Timber Mountain Log Ride takes its riders on an elaborate journey through the lumber camp, and it features detailed scenes that depict a romanticized logger life. The ride, which was updated in 2013, still draws large crowds today.

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Legoland | Carlsbad, California and Winter Haven, Florida

Both Legolands in California and Florida have multiple water-based rides. In California, kids in the Pirate Shores section of the park can board two different ships and battle other people with water cannons. In Florida, they man the water cannons while sailing on a boat through a world known as Chima. And both parks have the thrilling Aquazone Wave.

Standout Water Ride: The Aquazone Wave

Claim to Fame: part carousel, part high-speed water chase

For this ride, kids hop in Jet Ski–style watercraft that spin around like a carousel and skim the surface of a pool. Wheels let riders swivel their watercraft left and right to avoid being hit by the spray from a submerged water cannon.

Walt Disney World and Disneyland | Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California

No list would be complete without Disney World and Disneyland, two of the most iconic amusement parks in the world. The parks are located in Orlando and Anaheim, places where the average summer temperature is in the upper 80s and low 90s. So it’s no surprise that they share one of the world’s most famous water rides.

Standout Water Ride: Splash Mountain

Claim to Fame: a five-story plunge and catchy tunes you’ll hum all day long

These famous log flumes recreate the story of Br'er Rabbit using roughly 950,000 gallons of water and five-story waterfalls. They guarantee that everyone will get wet, especially those who sit in the front or taunt the ghost of Walt Disney. Plus, each ride ends in a rousing animatronic performance of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”.

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