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What Are the Best Water Rides in North America?

Miss Adventure Falls – Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon attractions cause a lot of stress for Imagineers. It’s the most trafficked water park in North America AND it has to live up to the high standards of the Disney theme park brand. When word leaked that the company was working on an E Ticket attraction at Typhoon Lagoon, expectations went through the roof.

Everyone should always have faith in the Disney brand, though. Miss Adventure Falls is merely the latest example of their sustained excellence. This water coaster isn’t like the others listed here. You won’t scoot high up the walls and feel like you might tip over. Disney designed this attraction for kids, and so it’s a gentler, more controlled ride experience, a style I happen to prefer.

Miss Adventure Falls is much more precise in its execution, and the standard Disney theming is visible from before the start of the ride past the exit. In fact, you should pay attention to your raft. It says “precious cargo,” which may or may not refer to you.

Muskoka Plunge – Splash Works

Yes, this list goes as far south as the Bahamas and as far north as Toronto, Canada. Splash Works is a modest 20-acre water park that doesn’t need to be any larger. Unlike Atlantis Paradise Island, this place isn’t going to be open year-round. In fact, it’s only open from May through September. Otherwise, people would be wearing snow boots with their bathing suits.

Muskoka Plunge may be a season attraction, but it certainly deserves some love. The construction is brilliant. Four different coaster tubes soar into the sky. All of them tie into a platform at the top of the attraction, and it doubles as the boarding area.

On this spot, you’ll randomly enter one of the line queues and wait to see what happens next. And that next thing is randomized. You could have four simultaneous launches, a sequential set of four launches, or something devious that park officials call “roulette.” The genius of Muskoka Plunge is that it turns the people waiting in line into excited fans, wondering what will happen with each launch. It’s a wonderfully communal experience that other parks should mimic/steal.

River Rush – Splash Country

Another hydromagnetic coaster this raft ride reaffirms something strange about the interiors of water park rides. They’re trippy enough that you may feel as if you ingested mind-altering substances. A sudden dispersal of foam from the sky wouldn’t seem out of place. Rides like River Rush are the closest thing that a person can get to a rave without feeling a sudden compulsion to attend Burning Man.

On River Rush, you start outside, relishing a lovely day in the Great Smoky Mountains. The only thing that impairs your version of the sky is a bit of netting. It’s what protects you from flying into the nearby trees. Just as you’re getting used to the gorgeous surroundings, you suddenly enter the tubes, which seem like a Lovecraft-ian take on a burial content in Fear Factor. Unlike many water coasters, the interior portions are brief, and that’s what makes them so perplexing. You’ll never feel settled during any of the tubing sequences, which explains why you’ll find the mountain air so comforting.

Wildebeest – Splashin’ Safari

Some of the selections listed here are intentionally a bit under the radar. They’re the hidden gems that don’t receive the hype of more storied water rides. Wildebeest is the exception. It’s a former Golden Ticket Awards winner that has held the world record for longest water coaster.

Wildebeest is a math exercise disguised as a splash attraction. It’s six stories high and features a 45-degree drop. It reaches a top speed of almost 25 miles per hour and has rare length for a water coaster. A ride takes 150 seconds, a full minute longer than most water coasters. Don’t let the fact that this ride is in a town called Santa Claus fool you. It’s a badass water ride that will leave you gasping for air, presuming you’re not swallowing water.

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