Come make a splash in a water park


Adventure Island in Tampa features a Key West theme and 14 attractions. (Courtesy photo)

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 3:28 p.m.

You can feel it every time you step outside.

It only takes a few seconds to notice the bright, burning sun and the perspiration forming on your forehead. It's June in Florida, and that means it's hot outside.

One fun way to beat the heat is by going to one of several water parks in Central Florida.

"I think you have so many opportunities, whether you want to lounge around on a lazy river or go down the water slides, it gives you that fun excitement, the thrill on the rides while allowing you to cool off," said Samantha Lane, public relations representative for Legoland Florida, which opened its water park in May.

Below is a roundup of area water parks.

Wild Waters, Ocala

In the shadow of its sister park, Silver Springs, Wild Waters offers six water flumes of varying speeds, a wave pool and a Cool Kids Cove. There are plenty of places to relax, too — both shady and sunny. Among the flumes: The Hurricane offers a two-track corkscrew on single inner tubes zipping up walls and through tunnels. Alligator Ambush is a double-tube ride that, as the name suggests, drops you into a swirl around a big ole alligator.

The Silver Bullet offers a more straight-forward slide, while Bunyan's Bend and Osceola's Revenge — the park's original flumes — are tall and packed with twists and turns. Wild Waters also offers the Mini Monster flume for younger riders.

Daily admission is $31.99 for people 48 inches and taller, and $22.99 for shorter folks. Seasonal passes available that grant access to Silver Springs, too. Snacks available for purchase. The park is just east of Ocala off State Road 40.

Daytona Lagoon, Daytona Beach

Despite the Atlantic Ocean right there, some folk prefer getting wet on land — at Daytona Lagoon. Plus there's dry stuff to do, too, like laser tag, go-carts, miniature golf and rock wall climbing.

The Lagoon Waterpark offers a half-dozen water slides, including the Kraken's Conquest where you can race three others down its 55-foot tower, a wave pool, a kid's area with child-friendly slides and a lazy river drift for those who take their excitement a bit more sedately.

Admission price for Floridians is $22.95 — $7 more for non-Floridians — and $19.99 for wee ones under 42 inches tall. Dry attractions are extra. The park is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days, to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Daytona Lagoon is at Oceanwalk Village next to the Ocean Center at Atlantic Avenue and Earl Street.

Bob's River Place, Branford

What started as a couple of rope swings for Bob's family has expanded into a riverside waterpark open to anyone for $15 a carload. With a waterfall, tree houses, a karaoke pavilion, a waterslide, a log roll and floating docks, Bob's has options for everyone. However, the pièce de résistance is the set of rope swings, with varying heights to accommodate even those looking for a thrilling swing 30 to 40 feet above the water. Bob's has no phone number, so visitors should be sure they have directions before adventuring to the park, located at 2878 NE 340 Highway.

Shipwreck Island Water Park, Jacksonville Beach

After a day at the beach, head over to Shipwreck Island to find watery thrills. Shipwreck Island features the first uphill water-coaster of its kind in North Florida, the Rage, which propels riders at speeds of up to 18 mph. Tickets are $27.99 (plus tax) for guests 42 inches and taller and $22.99 (plus tax) for those under 42 inches, with children under 3 free. The park, located a quarter of a mile east of the Intracoastal Waterway, offers many discounted offers throughout the summer, including $17.99 tickets every day from 3 to 8 p.m. and $14.99 tickets every Friday and Saturday from 7:30 to 11 p.m.

Splash Island at Wild Adventures Theme Park, Valdosta, Ga.

Included with admission to Wild Adventures, Splash Island is a park of choices. Kalani Blasters is a duo slide, offering a tunnel experience or an open flume ride, while Bonzai Pipelines is a complex of three slides. Guests can rent private cabanas with flat-screen televisions, storage, mini refrigerators and WiFi. Also included in the price of admission to Wild Adventures is the park's concert series, with performances by artists like BOSTON and Sugarland scheduled this summer. Tickets, good for two consecutive operating days, are $45.99 for guests 10 to 54 years old and $40.99 for children 3 to 9 and seniors over the age of 55.

Adventure Island, Tampa

Tampa's only water park sits on 30 acres adjacent to its sister park Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Adventure Island features a Key West theme and 14 attractions. Island Nights 2012 begin tonight featuring a party-like atmosphere with extended hours until 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday until Aug. 11. Regular park hours vary. Tickets are $44.99 (plus tax) for adults, $40.99 for ages 3 to 9 and free for ages 2 and younger. Adventure Island is offering passes with unlimited weekday visits and no blackout dates through Sept. 3 for $49.99 for adults and $45.99 for children.Save $5 by ordering tickets online, www.adventureisland.com.

Aquatica, Orlando

Located across the street from SeaWorld, Aquatica features 38 slides, lagoons and rivers with more than 80,000 square feet of man-made sandy beaches. One of the most popular attractions is Dolphin Plunge, two side-by-side enclosed tube slides that take riders underwater through a pool featuring dolphins. Single-day ticket for ages 10 and up is $49.99 (plus tax) and a single-day ticket for ages 3-9 is $44.99 (plus tax).

Blizzard Beach, Orlando

Disney's ski resort-themed water park is an impressive sight, including a working chair lift. Blizzard Beach's hallmark attraction is Summit Plummet, a 120-foot-high slide featuring a 12-story drop-down that reaches speeds of 50-60 miles per hour. There are attractions built specifically for young children. General admission tickets (ages 10 and up) are $55.38, children tickets are $46.86 and toddlers (ages 2 and younger) are free.

CoCo Key Waterpark, Orlando

It's hard not to notice the water slides while driving along the International Drive area of I-4. CoCo Key Orlando is a 54,000-square-foot canopy-covered water park that is part of a hotel. The park features 14 slides and four pools that are great for young children and teens. Featured attractions include Parrot's Perch, a water playground featuring a 400-gallon water bucket that drenches all under it, and Boomerango, a two-person tube slide that propels riders up a vertical water wall before sliding back down. Water park patrons don't need to stay at the hotel to access the park. Weekend passes are $24.95, Florida resident weekday passes are $17.95.

Discovery Cove, Orlando

If water slides and crowds are not your thing, then Discovery Cove might be the water park for you. Patrons can swim with a bottlenose dolphin during a 30-minute interactive session. Discovery Cove's coming-soon attraction, Freshwater Oasis, features water trails where guests can float along and see animals overhead in a rainforest canopy. Each ticket includes unlimited access to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days. Only 1,000 guests are allowed in the park each day so reservations are required. Packages start at $199 based on availability.

Legoland Water Park, Winter Haven

Central Florida's newest water park is getting ready for its first summer season. Legoland Water Park features six attractions, some originally from the Cypress Gardens water park. The Build-a-Raft River is a 1,000-foot lazy river where riders can take floating Lego bricks and build a custom raft. Teens and adults will enjoy Splash Out, three slides featuring a 60-foot drop. Admission to the water park is $12 added to a Legoland Florida ticket. Adult tickets are $77 if you order online, ages 3-12 and seniors are $67 and toddlers are $3.

Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, featuring attractions built for the whole family, is home to 12 attractions, including nine slides. The featured attraction is Crush ‘n' Gusher, where riders on multi-person tubes get propelled by water jets approximately 400 feet through turns, drops and uphill climbs. Ages 10 and up are $55.38, ages 3-9 are $46.86 and toddlers are free.

Wet 'n Wild, Orlando

Orlando's oldest water park offers a wide range of slides and activities and attractions for both thrill seekers and people looking to relax. There are more than 15 attractions at Wet 'n Wild with several multi-person slides. Wet 'n Wild recently unveiled Blastaway Beach — their first new attraction in four years — a 60-foot-tall interactive water playground with 15 slides, two pools and 160 water effects. Adult tickets are $48.99, toddlers are free, ages 3-9 and ages 60 and up are $42.99.

Entertainment editor Dave Schlenker, staff writers Rick Allen and Shayna Posses contributed to this report. Matt Reinstetle can be reached at matt.reinstetle@theledger.com or 802-7533. Follow Matt on Twitter @LedgerMatt.

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