Wednesday, July 17, 2013
5 fast and fab water parks for summer splashes
We were all water beings once. Crawl back into the arms of your evolutionary mother.
When it gets so hot and sticky you’d kill to see an ocean, or just abundant water, period, you’ve got a few options here in landlocked North Texas. You’ve got your spray parks. You’ve got your aquatics centers, typically a really fancy municipal pool or two and some awesome slides and, of course, your standard apartment or community-center pools. All of those will douse you with water and temporarily soothe the mental beast that emerges when temps hit 90 and above (and 90 feels like a cold front). For me, though, none of those can compete with the full-day, fully soaked immersion into the sloshy, never-a-dry-moment happiness that constitutes a water park.
I still remember the giddiness I felt when Hurricane Harbor opened, and I was buying season passes as soon as they were offered. Nobody who sees me now would believe it, but I was a slinky little eel as a kid, and I spent nearly every summer day at the Heights Park pool in Richardson (in my memory box, I still have the season tags that got sewn onto our swimsuits). I was even a lifeguard for four seasons.
I’m hardly a slinky anything at this point, but that’s another great thing about water parks: They are not full of supermodels, although annoyingly taut teenagers are quite abundant. So, however, are middle-aged moms and granddads, splashing their hearts out in swimsuits that are just a couple of yards shy of muumuu land. Don’t fret. Don’t even think about it. No one is paying any attention to you; they’re having too much fun.
Just soak up the sun, slither gracelessly down slides and other rides, and scream with sheer pleasure every time you hit the water, or it hits you. Speaking of the sun, one word: sunscreen. Don’t forget to take it, and reapply every 30 minutes.
We were all water beings once. Get back into the arms of your evolutionary mother (well, not the sea exactly, but the next best thing around here) and savor the delight. You don’t even have to swim, by the way; all the parks listed have shallow spots for all ages and special areas for teensy ones. Here's a list of local parks to get you started.
Note: For all parks, see listed websites for days of operation, hours, special events, dining options, restrictions, season and other passes, and more information.
1. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor: This granddaddy of all local parks offers some two dozen rides of varying intensity. Lines can get long for the most popular — get there early or stay late and ride them when the crowds are smaller. Two new slides debuted this season: the Typhoon Twister and the Tsunami Surge, which includes a brief portion where you’ll experience zero gravity as you surge to the top before dropping into the landing pool. Whooooo!
1800 E. Lamar Blvd. (off Interstate 30), Arlington. All tickets $24.99 if purchased online; at the park, they’re $29.99 for general admission, $24.99 for those under 48 inches tall, free for ages 2 and younger. Parking $15-$25. 817-265-3356. sixflags.com/hurricaneharbortexas.
2. NRH20 Family Water Park: This park contains, among other goodies, the world’s first Viper, a thrill ride with high banking turns and a drop into a 20-foot “megatube.” You have to be at least 48 inches tall, not to mention fearless, for this one.
9001 Blvd. 26, North Richland Hills. All tickets $20.99 when purchased online; at the park, they’re $25.99 for general admission, $20.99 for those under 48 inches, free for ages 2 and younger; discounts for North Richland Hills residents. 817-427-6500. nrh2o.com.
3. Hawaiian Falls: There are four local locations of this park: Garland, The Colony, Mansfield and Roanoke (there’s also one in Waco). New this summer at all five parks is the Rush, an “ultimate sensory slide experience,” which lets you rock out to a favorite song as you slip and slide to the bottom in a multiperson tube. Do they have Barry Manilow? Neil Diamond? I’ll let you know.
4550 N. Garland Ave., Garland; 4400 Paige Road, The Colony; 490 Heritage Parkway South, Mansfield; 290 W. Byron Nelson Road, Roanoke. $26.99 general admission, $19.99 for those under 48 inches tall and those ages 55 and older, free for ages 2 and younger. 1-888-544-7550 for all parks. hfalls.com.
4. Bahama Beach: This “lazy river” park, 10 minutes south of downtown Dallas, is perfect for downtown, Deep Ellum, and other inner-city residents. No wading pools here, but there's a “water playground” for little ones. Special events include Saturday Dive-In Movies.
1895 Campfire Circle, Dallas. $15 general admission, $11 for those under 48 inches tall, free for ages 2 and younger. 214-671-0820. bahamabeachdallas.com.
5. Great Wolf Lodge Water Park: This ultrafabulous park is, alas, open only to Great Wolf Lodge guests, although it very occasionally allows outside visitors. If you’re looking for a water-centric mini vacation, though, here’s your spot. The indoor park is kept at 84 degrees year-round, and contains some 80,000 square feet of wet fun, including MagiQuest, an area where you can grab a wand and battle a dragon.
100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine. See website for rates and summer deals. 817-488-6510. greatwolf.com/grapevine.
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