Wet, wild or mild—find your ideal place under the sun this summer
By Suzanne Wright
Waterparks, an American symbol of summer, are a great place to soak up sunshine. That’s why there are more than 1,200 keeping us cool on scorching summer days. And they’re popular: in 2012, 85 million people visited at least one.
Waterslides are a way to release your inner eight-year-old and relive those carefree childhood memories with your own children and grandchildren. Wholesome, safe and fun, waterparks rank high with both parents and kids.
The main attraction of waterparks, of course, is the waterslide. Did you know that waterslides have been in use since the aqueduct was invented? But they were functional, not fun, used as time- and energy-saving transportation. Workers would slide through the tubes, descending from the tops of the structure to make repairs at the base.
The precursor to the modern waterslide dates to 1923. The Sellner Water-Toboggan Slide—an enormous slide made of wood and suspended over water—was the brainchild of Herbert Sellner of Minnesota. Thrill seekers climbed to the top of the slide with their sleds and then slid down the contraption at high speeds.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Waterslides were installed at beaches and amusement parks in the U.S. and around the world. Today they are also found in resorts and backyards, a perennial source of summer fun.
Nestled in the heart of Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is the Midwest’s premier lake resort destination and home to some of the country’s best waterslides. When the season kicks off—typically on Memorial Day weekend—kids of all ages are found splashing and shrieking with delight.
So slip into your board shorts or bikinis and get ready to hit the lake for rides to remember. We’ve got the scoop on waterslides at three Lake of the Ozarks waterparks—and some reminders of why waterparks always make a splash!
Slide onto your bucket list
Whether you’re a daredevil or prefer a more placid experience, there’s a water experience to suit you.
Bear Bottom Resort boasts the longest open flume waterslides in the state with more than 700 feet of slippery fun. Timber Falls Indoor Waterpark at Tan-Tar-A Resort features a three-story wilderness tree house with suspension bridges, web crawls, water blasters and a six-foot-wide wooden bucket that dumps 600 gallons of water every minute, drenching happy crowds below. Not only that, it’s got 600 feet of water slides, enough to keep everyone happy.
At Big Surf Waterpark, there are 13 acres of rides, slides and tides, including a 375,000-gallon wave pool with swells that top three-and-a-half feet. The Space Pool, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers a sweet, swift ride into a 30-foot-wide bowl that spins you around and around, finally dropping you into an eight-foot-deep catch pool. The unique dueling Challenger Flumes twist and turn in covered darkness for 300 feet before riders either emerge victorious or with added enthusiasm to try to be faster next time. Zambezi Falls will stoke your adrenaline with an exhilarating three-story drop down the Lake’s largest halfpipe of rushing water.
Tubing on a lazy river like the ones at Tan-Tar-A Resort and Big Surf Waterpark are great for kicking back and tame enough for the youngest kids. The gentle currents let riders drift along at a fun, relaxing pace.
A birthday party for the books
In addition to the amazing waterslides, there are lots of other reasons to visit a waterpark this summer.
Lucky enough to celebrate a summer birthday? A waterpark makes a great location for a gathering. They are also wonderful sites for hosting your church group, company retreat or family reunion. In addition to being an excellent way to get people together, waterparks naturally bring out the smiles in everyone.
A Splash Bash at Big Surf Waterpark will spark memories for summers to come. The party pack includes all-day admission for up to 10 guests, a birthday cake, two pizzas, 10 drinks, t-shirt and return ticket for the birthday boy or girl. The staff plans everything; all you have to do is show up with friends and family.
Fun on a shoestring
Waterparks are one of the best entertainment values around for families. With low per-person admissions—and frequent-visit discounts or two-for-one specials—a day out won’t waterlog your budget. Follow your favorite waterparks on Facebook or Twitter and bookmark their websites to score a deal.
At Bear Bottom Resort, score a deal on your snacks: just 30 cents per wing on Thursdays. There’s even live music on the weekends.
Get your dose of sunny D
Forget tanning booths! A day on a waterslide will boost your vitamin D and yield an old-fashioned golden glow. Just remember to slather on a water-resistant sunblock, wear sunglasses and don a hat.
Had enough sun? Cabanas at Big Surf Waterpark provide shade for four and a great spot to rest up before hitting the slides again.
Your family will slip and slide right into summer on the best water slides in Lake of the Ozarks no matter which experience you choose.
Get a free visitor guide and plan your water adventure to Lake of the Ozarks.