Making a Splash: The best water parks for cooling down this summer

best water parks

By Richard Jones

Summer is finally here, for now at least, and when the warm weather hits, our first instinct is to be near water.

But forget the sea or a standard rectangular swimming pool, the best place to cool down in the holiday heat and have fun is at a thrill-packed themed waterpark.

We take a look at nine of the best – both around the world and closer to home.

World Waterpark, Edmonton, Canada

At first glance, the West Edmonton Mall is just a shopping centre, but it is also home to one of Canada’s biggest water parks.

Shoppers can follow up their retail therapy with some water therapy – sipping cocktails in a poolside cabana or learning how to surf.

There are plenty of slides and attractions to go at too, including Cyclone, a 26m-tall waterslide that propels riders into a near-vertical 360-degree loop, Nessie’s Revenge with its camel-bumps creating wicked zero-gravity airtime, and Sky Screamer which uses an electronic trap-door launch system.

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Splash Landings, Alton Towers, Staffordshire

After a visit to the UK’s No 1 theme park, Alton Towers, cool down at its fantastic indoor water park.

You can drift along the beach paradise’s lazy rivers, and get drenched by a crazy cannon, before taking to the slides and have a splash-tactular time on Master Blaster, Rush ‘N’ Rampage and Flash Floods.

There is plenty to keep the little ones occupied too in the Wacky Waterworks, with interactive cannons, buckets and wheels.

Whatever the weather in the UK, Splash Landings is the place to be with an heated outdoor section containing a soothing Bubbly Wubbly pool and flume adventure, as well as the peaceful Lagoona Bay inside where you can enjoy the waterfall.

Siam Park, Tenerife

Inspired by the Siamese culture, Tenerife’s 46-acre Siam Park claims to be the most spectacular water attraction in Europe.

One of its most famous rides is the Tower of Power, in which you go down a terrifying 28m vertical slope before shooting through an aquarium filled with stingrays and sharks.

Other attractions include waterslides such as Singha, while Lost City features an additional 15 slides, towers, bridges and more sedate water features, like the Mai Thai River, one of the longest lazy rivers in the world.

As well as all that, the Floating Market is a traditional Thai-style village where you can grab souvenirs, beverages, and snacks.

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Yas Waterworld, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Opened in 2013, and the equivalent size of 15 football pitches, Yas Waterworld has 45 rides and attractions, including five unique slides.

These include Dawwama, a six-person raft ride on which passengers drop through an enormous funnel, and the Bandit Bomber, an interactive 550m-long coaster.

Visitors can hang ten on the world’s largest FlowBarrel surf simulator, or take a spin on Liwa Loop, the Middle East’s only looping water slide.

There are numerous shopping outlets and eating joints to pamper your senses, and the park is right next to Ferrari World, so a two-park ticket is ideal.

Aquapark Istralandia, Nova Vas, Croatia

Just 5km from the Adriatic coast and with wonderful views of the Valley of Mirna, Aquapark Istralandia is ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing or adrenaline-fuelled day out in Istria.

There is Free Fall, a 27m-high slide, Top Gun, which gives you the sensation of being shot out of a cannon, and Breaker Wave Pool, the largest in the Mediterranean.

And while the kiddies will love the children’s pool with water castle, pirate ship and water slides, adults can chill out in hydromassage pools connected by a waterfall.

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Aquatica, Orlando, Florida

When it first opened in 2008, SeaWorld’s Aquatica was immediately ranked as one of the top water parks in the world. And in 2021, it got even better when it added Florida’s first duelling water slide, Riptide Race.

Themed around the Southern Pacific, Aquatica has a huge range of attractions for all ages – there are two enormous wave pools, family-friendly raft slides, and a white sand beach area.

The world-famous Dolphin Plunge takes passengers on a white-knuckle ride through an aquarium, while those brave enough to take on the Omaka Rocka will be blasted down a series of flumes and funnels.

Also excellent are Ihu’s Breakaway Falls tower slide, and the brand-new Turi’s Kid Cove play area.

Aquaventure Water Park, Dubai

Dubai does everything that bit bigger, and the huge Aquaventure beside Atlantis the Palm, is no exception.

The largest water park in all of the Middle East and Europe, it offers guests the chance to swim with sharks and rays, or simply unwind at the 700m stretch of pristine beach.

And then there’s the rides – Aquaventure features several world firsts and is home to zip lines, slides racing through shark-filled lagoons and family-friendly offerings.

The best attractions include Odyssey of Terror, the world’s tallest waterslide, Shockwave, a triple threat of speed, power, and Zoomerango, which creates a sense of weightlessness.

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The Time Capsule, Coatbridge, Scotland

Are you ready for the Tornado Tantrum? Ride the 10m high Storm Chasers, Thunder and Lightning at the Time Capsule, with their amazing twisting twin flumes, then test your strength and endurance in the Tsunami wave pool.

Get drenched under the huge tipping bucket on Splashdown Island, alongside powerful water cannons and randomly activated spouts, or float down Riptide River, a lazy river with a rapid ending.

For families with younger children, there is the sanctuary of Cove Island, a sheltered area where they can enjoy the water at a more leisurely pace.

Fasouri Watermania, Limassol, Cyprus

The largest waterpark in Cyprus has a Polynesian theme where you’ll find many wooden pergolas, a Tarzan swing, wave pool, and paddle boats.

There are over 30 slides, including the famous Black Cannons where 1000 litres of water per minute propel you in the air like a human ball.

There’s also 6 Lane Mat Race a 100m-long slippery race for the entire family, the Black Hole and Extreme Black Hole slides, and an interactive Juice Factory.

Sweet Land Kiosk, Aloha Cocktail Bar, Cinnabon Kiosk, Costa Coffee and Mini Donut Kiosk are open for a bite to eat in between all the fun.


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