The hazy days of summer are behind us in the Northern Hemisphere, but our friends in the Southern half of the world are just beginning to plan their summer vacations. And for those of us who plan to escape winter’s cold grip this year, you bet our minds are still on how the maximize our fun in the sun.
A water park sounds like the perfect solution to a hot summer day, or even just the antidote to the heat when you’re traveling tropical islands. Whether you’re planning to be a snowbird and jet off to Florida or you’re anticipating the heat in Rio or Sydney, you might be hoping to schedule some water slides and lazy rivers on your itinerary.
Amusement parks, including water parks, come in all shapes and sizes though, and not all of them are great. In fact, some of them are downright dangerous. Whether it’s unsafe operating practices, poor maintenance, changes in ownership, or something else, there are definitely some water parks we’d rather not set foot in.
On the other side of the coin, there are some fantastic water parks located all around the world. No matter where your travels take you, as a water park enthusiast, you’ll want to be sure to check out some of the world’s very best.
20 Stay Away: This Park Is Nicknamed Class Action Park
You know it’s bad when a water park has a reputation for getting sued. Action Park in New Jersey has been in so much legal trouble over accidents and fatalities over the years, that lawsuits and insane insurance premiums actually forced its closure in the late 1990s.
Like an ill-thought-out phoenix, however, the park reopened and operated under a different name. In 2014, it assumed the Action Park moniker once again. Today, the park is said to have safer rides and many of the dangerous rides have been closed. Nonetheless, we think we’d rather steer clear of such an infamous park.
19 Stay Away: This California Park Can’t Shake Its Past
It’s been over 20 years since tragedy struck at Waterworld Concord, located in California. In 1997, 33 high school students hopped on a water slide, causing it to collapse. You have to wonder who let all of them board at once.
By all rights, visitors and locals say the park is much safer now, and the park has been in continuous operation since then. Nonetheless, the park has changed ownership and rebranded itself several times since the accident, suggesting the specter of its past lingers on. Today, the park is known as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord, with the most recent name change happening in 2018.
18 Stay Away: This UK Waterpark Has Made Some Questionable Decisions
Middlemoor Waterpark, located in the UK, is a popular destination. The park’s history has been filled with some questionable decisions, however, and we think it might be wiser to trust our health and safety to a different management team.
Perhaps the most infamous incident was a since-removed attraction called the “human trebuchet.” Designed after the medieval weapon, this ride would catapult guests over 75 feet in the air. They’d land in a free-standing net strung between two poles. You can guess how that went wrong.
We’ll give the park points for removing the dodgy attraction, but it makes us wonder who approved it in the first place. What other questionable decisions have they made?
17 Stay Away: There are Better Things To Do In Myrtle Beach
If you’re planning to vacation in South Carolina’s famous Myrtle Beach, you might be delighted to learn there’s a water park nearby. Whether you want thrills and chills for yourself or a good day trip for the whole family, a water park seems like a great solution.
Myrtle Waves Water Park might not be the right choice, though, if online reviews are anything to go by. The park has amassed a number of complaints from dissatisfied guests, for everything from high prices, to the state of the rides, to the hours of operation.
Overall, this park isn’t the dodgiest on this list. In fact, it seems like one of the biggest complaints is that it’s not risky enough.
16 Stay Away: This Orlando Park Was Forced To Close After Almost 40 Years
Wet ‘n Wild Orlando opened in 1977, and for nearly 40 years, it was hailed as a great family attraction in the Orlando area. It was the flagship location for the Wet ‘n Wild brand. It’s also considered to be the USA’s very first water park.
The park suffered when Disney introduced its own water parks, and it finally closed down at the end of 2016. It was demolished about 6 months later to make way for a new Universal Studios attraction. If you ask some of the reviewers on sites like Trip Advisor, however, it’s a good thing. The park was dated and not worth your money.
15 Stay Away: This Thai Park's Power Problems Threw Riders Toward The Ground
Siam Park City, located in Thailand, opened in 1980. Even today, it’s the largest amusement complex in the Bangkok area. It’s almost inevitable that something will occur during a 30-plus year span, but it seems the park might have taken additional steps to prevent a 2007 accident, when a log flume ride sent riders tumbling 66 feet to the ground.
Management investigated the accident, and said it happened because of a drop in electric power, which caused a pump to fail. Sounds pretty dodgy to us. Either the ride needed more maintenance, or there’s something strange with the electrical grid. Either way, we’ll take a hard pass.
14 Stay Away: This Taiwanese Park Was The Site Of An Explosion
Generally speaking, you don’t want to mix water parks and explosions. The Formosa Fun Coast water park in New Taipei, of course, just thought they were putting on a good show when some colored corn starch dust exploded during a performance in 2015.
The accident caused the park to be closed immediately, and an investigation followed. The number of injuries and fatalities makes the incident one of the worst incidents in New Taipei. It leads us to ask who gave the approval for the show, and we want to know what other decisions they were in charge of at the park.
13 Stay Away: You Might Want To Skip Vietnam's Forgotten Park
As we already noted, not every water park is a good idea, and even the ones that are can be poorly run. In the 1990s and 2000s, many water parks opened, and many of them went belly up just as quickly.
Such is the case with Ho Thuy Thien, an abandoned water park just outside of Hue, Vietnam. The park was built in 2004, for about $3 million. The park was only half-finished, and it was quickly abandoned. It’s since become a must-see location for urban explorers and backpackers. Even though the crocodiles have been removed from the park, we think we’ll still skip it.
12 Stay Away: California's Water Park Has Been Troubled From The Start
Let’s head back to California. This time, we’ll land in Dublin, where the Dublin Wave Water Park was set to open its doors for the very first time in 2017. The park seems to have been ill-equipped or the employees ill-trained, as an accident occurred on the very first day of operation.
Luckily, it seems the outcome wasn’t too grim, and the park has been operating ever since. In fact, it will open for its 2019 season on Memorial Day Weekend in May. Nonetheless, the park is apparently small, and we have to wonder about its quality given this history.
11 Stay Away: Safari Lagoon Might Be Safer Now That It’s Deserted
Most abandoned places become more dangerous after they close down and begin to fall apart. At Safari Lagoon in Malaysia, the park might actually be safer now that it’s closed down. Opened in 1998, the park was forced to close its doors in 2007, after a rumored worksite accident and the revelation the park had been operating unlicensed for years.
Yikes! That sounds like a bad case of unethical and unsafe management. Given that the park was also located on the roof of a shopping center, it’s probably lucky it closed down before something even worse occurred. We think we’ll skip it though.
10 Worth it: Don’t Confuse The World’s Best Water Park With One Of The Dodgiest
When you think of water parks, you probably don’t think of Spain. But you should. According to review sites, Spain’s Siam Park is one of the absolute best water parks in the world. Just don’t confuse it with the dodgier Thai park.
Spain’s Siam Park is located on Tenerife, one of the beautiful Canary Islands. It features 3 themed areas. One is focused on the family, while another is designed to relax you. The third category is designed for adrenaline junkies looking for thrills and spills. The park features 25 Thai-inspired buildings and 10 rides, including the world’s longest lazy river.
9 Worth it: This Park Will Take You On An Aqua Adventure
Aquaventure, located in the Bahamas, has an apt name. The park features everything from a lazy river that travels through a tropical oasis to fast-paced slides like the Leap of Faith, which allows you to plummet through a clear tunnel in a shark-infested lagoon.
There are also almost a dozen pools for you to kick back and relax by. Part of the Atlantis resort, the park is open to non-guests who purchase individual day passes. The park is incredibly popular with visitors who arrive by cruise ship. What a way to spend an afternoon! It’s little wonder this park has been voted one of the best in the world.
8 Worth it: Beijing Got Innovative After The 2008 Olympics
A lot has happened since 2008, and 10 years on, it’s interesting to see what China has done with the sites and buildings used to host the Summer Olympics. Unlike many Olympic hosts, China has worked to redevelop them instead of merely abandoning these venues.
Perhaps the best example is Water Cube Water Park, which is located in the former National Aquatics Center. It’s the largest water park in Asia, and it’s been outfitted with new slides, rides, and more. Take a ride on the lazy river, play in the giant wave pool, or visit the spa for some R&R.
7 Worth it: Bali Likes Waterparks Too
If you look at social media, you might think Indonesia is a place to go if you want a mystic retreat or to practice yoga. You might even think Bali is all about Kuta Beach or romantic getaways for couples.
Turns out this Indonesian island has a kicking water park. Waterbom Bali gets top marks from visitors on review sites, and it couldn’t be a further cry from mystic yogis and candlelit dinners. The park features rides like the Climax, which features a near-vertical drop. You’ll fall through the trap door, then experience a 2.5 g-force as you go slip-sliding down. What a rush!
6 Worth it: You’ll Find The World’s Largest Indoor Wave Pool Here
Canada probably isn’t your first pick when you think of water parks. After all, if stereotypes are to be believed, it’s winter for most of the year here. But that means when summer hits, Canadians are ready for all the thrills a water park can offer up.
Or, in the case of World Waterpark in Alberta, they just build themselves an indoor water park instead. Water World features the world’s largest indoor wave pool, and it includes 9 indoor water slides. Did we mention it’s located in the West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America? Oh, and there’s an amusement park there too.
5 Worth it: Abu Dhabi Outdoes Itself Again
If there’s one thing Abu Dhabi is known for, it’s being over the top. That’s certainly the case when it comes to Yas Waterworld. The park is relatively new on the scene, having just opened in 2013, but it’s already considered one of the very best in the whole world.
Maybe the fact the park boasts 43 rides and attractions has something to do with it. It might also be that there are 5 water slides that were specially designed for the park. You can only ride them here. Check out a water coaster, a surf simulator, or the Middle East’s only looping water slide.
4 Worth it: Welcome To The Largest Park In Latin America
The aptly named Beach Park, located in Brazil, is Latin America’s largest water park. It’s also one of the world’s best, at least according to the people who have actually been there. It features Brazil’s only Skybox, among other attractions.
Beach Park is composed of several resorts, and it welcomes almost 1 million visitors each and every year. Families can visit the water circus or Treasure Island, while thrill-seekers can check out the Insano, which was previously the world’s tallest water slide. Built in 1989, it clocks in at 135 feet. The park also features other amenities, like tennis courts and surfing lessons.
3 Worth it: Dubai Won’t Be Outdone
Abu Dhabi’s Yas Waterworld is only 5 years old. Dubai, on the other hand, opened Wild Wadi Waterpark all the way back in 1998. Despite being 20 years old now, the park is still ranked as one of the absolute best anywhere in the world.
This outdoor water park boasts more than a dozen slides and not 1, but 2 surf simulators. You can take your pick of heated and cooled wave pools. If you’re up for a real thrill, check out Tantrum Alley, which will spin you and 3 other riders through a series of tornado bowls, before plunging you into a pool.
2 Worth it: Tropical Islands is The World’s Largest Indoor Water Park
Have you ever looked at an aircraft hangar and thought, “Hm, this would make a great water park?” Apparently, that’s precisely what some German geniuses did when they converted the world’s largest free-standing hall into what is now the world’s largest indoor water park.
Tropical Islands takes its inspiration from the islands of Samoa, Borneo, and Bali, and infuses some Thai influence as well. The park also features its own rainforest, boasting nearly 50,000 plants. Located about 50 kilometers south of Berlin, this resort gives both locals and tourists a much-needed tropical escape. There are even shows to keep you entertained.
1 Worth it: Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Is One Of The World’s Most Visited
Typhoon Lagoon opened up in Walt Disney World, 1 of 2 water parks at the Florida theme park. Since then, it’s become one of the world’s most-visited water parks, attracting millions of visitors every year.
Part of the appeal is how family-friendly Disney makes the experience. You can even rent out a premium lounge area, which is perfect for families. It’s little wonder the park consistently scores high points with visitors. One of the world’s largest outdoor wave pools and great attractions like the Crush ‘n’ Gusher water coaster don’t hurt either. Disney plans to incorporate new rides and attractions in the near future.
References: Yahoo.com, TripAdvisor.com, Insider.com, Providr.com, Travelchannel.com, Slice.ca, CNNTravel, Thesun.co.uk