Summertime means hot weather, cold drinks, and days spent lounging by the water. Not everyone has a private pool and community pools can get a little stale, so if you’re looking for somewhere to cool off, put on a swimsuit and check out these five water parks that offer some of the best entertainment in the state.
What started as four water slides in 1979 has grown to 51 attractions on over 70 acres of land. The original Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort has four times the rides and attractions, compared to any other water park within 200 miles, and incorporates the on-site Comal River into its amenities. Rides, tube chutes, slides, and pools use spring-fed river water that sits at a perfect 72 degrees and flows directly back into the river. The park has children’s areas, an array of food options, and resort-style lodging, making this a go-to spot to cool down and de-stress.
At a hotel swimming pool in 2005, Gordon Hartman observed his special-needs daughter, Morgan, wanting to play with the other children around the pool. They ignored her, which spurred Gordon to create an amusement park where people with and without disabilities could interact together and have fun. In 2010, he created Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first theme park designed and built with special-needs individuals in mind. Last summer, the park expanded to include Morgan’s Inspiration Island — the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park. Morgan’s Inspiration Island has five splash pads and a riverboat adventure ride, all accessible for guests with special needs. Waterproof wheelchairs make it possible for physically disabled guests to enjoy the water, and admission is free for anyone with special needs.
With nine water slides, six splash pools, and one “gigantic tipping bucket,” all spread out over 80,000 square feet (7,432 square meters), it’s no wonder people flock to this indoor water park to escape the blistering sun. The water park is reserved exclusively for guests staying at Great Wolf Lodge, which helps with overcrowding and long lines. An array of dining options are available on-site, and “Story Time”—where younger guests wear their pajamas while listening to bedtime stories at the Great Clock Tower—happens every night.
Why not double up on fun when it’s so accessible? Aquatica is SeaWorld’s water park, and visitors have the option of buying a two-park ticket that allows access to both parks. Aquatica has sandy beaches, water slides, lagoons, wave pools, a lazy river, a 42,000 square feet (3,901 square meters) beach area, and more than 500 stingrays and tropical fish. Yes, there are live animals. The park has a stingray encounter where guests can touch and feed cownose stingrays, visit an aviary with 40 species of birds, and a tropical reef where guests can see several species of fish and stingrays. The water park’s signature attraction features a four-person raft that goes through an underwater grotto; here, guests can see stingrays and tropical marine life swimming overhead.
While Hurricane Harbor has plenty of kid-friendly areas across its 47 acres, the main attractions at this park appeal to thrill seekers. As the largest water park in North Texas, Hurricane Harbor is known for its heart-pounding slides and tubes. If you have kids in tow, the new Splashwater Beach is an interactive water playground with almost 40 different water features. For those wanting something a little more extreme, the Der Stuka offers two seven-storey, free-fall slides that drop passengers 72 feet (21 meters). There are plenty of other exciting rides as well, and “Drive-In Movies” are offered on select Friday nights at the wave pool.