An exciting summer for water parks is just around the corner, and we’re tallying up the country’s most exciting and thrilling water parks for the 2017 season. From a deep dive down the world’s tallest waterslide to 6-foot swells in one of the world’s largest wave pools, thrilling splashes for the whole family await at the country’s best water parks. —Zachary Laks
Water Country USA
WHERE: Williamsburg, Virginia
Water Country USA continues its reign as the Mid-Atlantic’s largest water park with more than 40 water slides. Garnering the most attention and praise as it enters into its fourth season, the park’s Colossal Curl was the first slide of its kind in the country when it was built in 2014. The slide packs two heart-racing elements on its 552-foot long track, starting with a 24-foot Tornado whirlpool before picking up speed into the TornadoWave—where the slide’s four-person clover rafts scale the wall, hang weightless, then drop toward a narrow exit.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Williamsburg and Hampton Roads Travel Guide
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
WHERE: Tyrone, Pennsylvania
A family-owned and -operated amusement park in central Pennsylvania, DelGrosso’s Amusement Park offers ammenties like a wave pool and lazy river, while an Italian-themed park adds a bit of flair by way of a Leaning Tower of Pisa water feature. The park, named for a family known for their pasta sauce since 1914, is a standout for its Italian fare, and offers incredible food venues on site.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Pennsylvania Travel Guide
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
WHERE: Santa Claus, Indiana
Santa Claus, Indiana’s, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is home to two of the world’s longest water coasters, Mammoth and Wildebeest, a feat no other water park in the country can claim. Mammoth stands out for its unique six-person raft that climbs a seven-story hill before racing down a course of seven drops. Wildebeest is a more traditional new-age water coaster, featuring a winding track of underground tunnels and drops that push the four-person dinghy to speeds upwards of 36 feet per second. Continue your adrenaline rush on Zinga, the park’s eight-story Tornado slide, where a four-person inner tube scales the curved walls of the purple and blue mega-structure.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indiana Travel Guide
Six Flags White Water
WHERE: Marietta, Georgia
Six Flags White Water Georgia offers one of the largest racing slides in the world, the Wahoo Racer, a six side-by-side lane slide attraction standing nearly 60 feet tall. Riders will have the chance to race head-first on water toboggans that curve along a large loop and some gut-wrenching hills before a straightaway to the finish line. Wahoo Racer adds to the impressive lineup at the Six Flags outpost, located about a half an hour north of Six Flags Over Georgia, where it takes at least a day to experience the park’s nearly two dozen attractions.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Georgia Travel Guide
WHERE: Kansas City, Kansas
Most of Schlitterbahn’s five water parks are in Texas, but their park in Kansas has drawn the most attention by far, and for good reason. Behold Verrückt, officially the world’s tallest waterslide, reaching 168 feet and 7 inches into the clouds. Unlike anything else in the world, a custom-built raft for four plummets the brave down 15 stories, reaching speeds over 70 mph. A park that caters to a family crowd, those who prefer to stay closer to the ground will appreciate the low-key thrills of King Kaw Rapids River, a 3,000-foot downhill float that encounters a few waterfalls and lakes before picking up speed through whitewater rapids.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Kansas City Travel Guide
Mountain Creek Waterpark
WHERE: Vernon, New Jersey
All eyes will be on Mountain Creek Waterpark (formerly known as Action Park) this summer as the famed park rekindles its physics-defying past. A legendary spot that once reigned as the world’s most dangerous amusement park, it returned in 2014 under new management nearly two decades after shuttering. The revival of the park’s most controversial slide, 1985’s Cannonball Loop, and Sky Caliber, the world’s first freefall and first true vertically looping waterslide, will attrack thrillseekers. Erected at 90 feet with a 45-foot freefall into a 30-foot loop in darkness, riders are enclosed in a high-tech raft vehicle that features roller coaster–style shoulder restraints and an aluminum alloy frame.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New Jersey Travel Guide
Carolina Harbor Waterpark
WHERE: Charlotte, North Carolina
Riding high from the success of record-breaking roller coaster Fury 325, Carowinds prepares for another banner year with Carolina Harbor Waterpark. Boomerang Bay offers double the water slides; highlights will include the Pirate’s Plank, a nearly vertical freefall with a floor-drop feature, and Seaside Splashworks, a children’s water playground that will feature a massive 423-gallon tipping bucket.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Charlotte Travel Guide
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
WHERE: Orlando, Florida
As the one of world’s most-visited water parks (second only to Chimelong Waterpark in Guangzhou, China), Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World welcomes more than two million visitors annually, year-round. One of two water parks at Disney World—the second being Blizzard Beach—Typhoon Lagoon demands a day of its own on any trip to Orlando. Impeccably themed as the aftermath of a fictional typhoon, the park’s centerpiece is Miss Tilly, a shrimp boat impaled on a mountaintop that erupts with a geyser every half hour. Standouts in the park include the one of the world’s biggest wave pools and Shark Reef, the rare opportunity to snorkel a manmade reef teeming with live sharks.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Orlando Travel Guide
Quassy Amusement & Waterpark
WHERE: Middlebury, Connecticut
A smaller park that wins guests over with its low-key charm and affordable fun, Quassy Amusement & Waterpark returns in 2017 with Slide City. Expanding its offerings for the younger set, Slide City introduces five starter slides for those 48 inches and shorter. And for older guests, the park’s BulletBowl is a must, featuring a thrilling two-person raft slide that plunges into a huge blue and purple bowl, scaling the walls of the structure like a roulette ball.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Connecticut Travel Guide