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Water Parks Are Just as Fun as Theme Parks. Here's Why:

They can be just as well themed as dry parks

 elisfkc, Flickr (license)

Image: elisfkc, Flickr (license)

It’s easy to think of the old 1980s-style Wet ‘n’ Wild concrete-and-plastic aesthetic when picturing a water park. But while those do still exist out in the world, they are not where the industry is heading — and, in fact, there are many examples of how it isn’t where the industry is right now, either.

Some of the earliest themed water parks — Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World — began to explore what might happen if you applied the concepts present in dry theme parks to water parks, with Blizzard Beach’s “melting ski resort” theme adding a brilliant visual flourish to traditional water park mainstays like the speed-slide-turned-ski-jump Summit Plummet and the family-slide-turned-slalom-course Teamboat Springs. 

Sea World upped the ante with its tropical-themed Aquatica park — a critic’s favorite for sure — before Universal topped them all with Volcano Bay. Volcano Bay is as beautiful as a water park can be, with attractions built into the mountainous superstructure seamlessly to create one large aesthetic expression. But while this might seem like just the Orlando Parks trying to outdo one another, this is quickly becoming the industry trend.

Aquaventure at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, as well as the future water park development at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean International’s private cruise destination, all seem committed to the thrills that can only be found via themed water parks.

The park experience is more intimate

 emilgh, Flickr (license)

Image: emilgh, Flickr (license)

When you board a roller coaster, it’s rare for you to enjoy that roller coaster by yourself or with a single friend. And yet, with water parks, that’s the main way to experience the attractions.

Yes, there are some water slides with group components — like large raft slides or mat racers — and, yes, there are some theme park attractions that are solo or small affairs — like the Haunted Mansion or even Space Mountain.

But, on the whole, the principal experience of a water park is the feeling of total isolation as you slide down a tube filled with water, and relief when you finally see your friend smiling at you down below.

The thrills in a water park are much more internal. There are no jump scares or large animatronic show scenes. There is only you, a dark tube, and water to push you along. When the trap door releases you, there is no one to share the moment with until you reach the bottom.

Sure, theme parks are better at bringing people together — kids and parents, friends and loved ones. But that doesn’t mean water parks are without merit. They’re thrilling in their own way, and they allow you to escape the real world in a manner that is far more unique.

Admittedly, they are a bit gross. But hey, that’s why they’re underrated, right?

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