Replete with slippery slides, powerful plunge rides and dizzying rapids, it is easy to see why water parks are the go-to outing for many families on holiday. Along with adrenaline-fuelled rides, which are sure to get the heart pumping, the littlest members of the family will find adventure pirate ships, toboggans, lazy rivers and shallow play pools at the world’s best water parks.
How will you fare in Typhoon Lagoon’s wave pool, the largest of its kind in the world? Do you have what it takes to face VertiGo, the world’s tallest capsule slide? You can find our pick of the best water park holidays, below.
This water park sits in the south of Lanzarote, in the popular tourist town of Playa Blanca. Here, families can let their littlest ones run around in Corsario Bay (a shallow pool with small slides), before bopping up and down in the park’s wave pool. Adrenaline-junkies should venture to the Timan Fire; named after the Fire Mountain of Lanzarote (“Timanfaya”), this ride has five loop-de-loop rides which are sure to put you into a spin!
Aquapark is the biggest water park on the island of Lanzarote. Sitting to the east, in Costa Teguise, this park offers blood-pumping tunnel rides, such as the Kamikaze and Super Kamikaze, as well as calmer rides like the Rio Loco Rapids. When it’s time to dry off, you can try your hand at the park’s other outdoor activities, such as indoor paintballing and go-karting.
Boasting some of the biggest and best rides in the world, Siam Park is a Thai-inspired water park on the south coast of Tenerife. In fact, it’s so good it was voted best water park by TripAdvisor in 2017 for its fantastic mix of adrenaline-pumping rides and relaxing family-friendly fun.
Some of the park’s most spellbinding rides include The Dragon, a vertical funnel which simulates zero gravity; Mai Tai river, the longest and laziest river in the world; and the Tower of Power, a slide with a stomach-churning 28-metre drop.
At Aqualand El Arenal, thrill-seekers are treated to some of the fastest rides in the Balearics. Do you dare twist and turn on the Tornado? Or brave the looped tunnels of the Anaconda? How about the most feared ride of the lot, The King Cobra? Jump into the mouth of the beast and fly through his menacing jaws before – splash! – you’re plunged into calm waters. When you need some respite from the action, glide along the Congo River in your inflatable and bask in the blissful Mediterranean sunshine.
Searching for a fail-safe family activity during your time in Gran Canaria? Pay a visit to Aqualand Maspalomas, a fantast water park situated to the south of the island.
Climb the vertiginous steps of the park’s statement water ride, Snake Falls, before slip-sliding down into the pool below. Test friends on the Twin Racer Turbolance, and try not lose your cool on Mamut, Aqualand Maspalomas’ biggest slide.
The most sensational ride, however, has to be the Boomerang. This other-worldly attraction sends riders flying back and forth on a platform which looks like it’s been plucked straight from a sci-fi film.
Sitting in Universal’s Orlando Resort, Volcano Bay offers some of the best rides in the Sunshine State. Inspired by the indigenous Waturi islanders of New Zealand, this park combines culture with adrenaline-fuelled rides.
Hop into a canoe and slide through the dark, misty waterfalls of the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. Let the serenading sounds of waves rush over you in the park’s spectacular lagoons. As the day draws to an end, sit back and sink into the lush tropical landscape of Waturi Beach, a man-made beach which offers unrivalled views of Krakatau, the park’s eponymous volcano.
Not too far from Volcano Bay is Typhoon Lagoon, in Disneyworld. Many know this as Florida’s most thrilling water park, thanks to its countless rides.
Jump as high as you can in one of the world’s largest wave pools, or hold onto your float as you zig-zag wildly at Mayday Falls. If you really want to test your nerve, however, get in line for Humunga Kowabunga; a near-vertical drop sends thrill-seekers on a five-storey fall down Mount Mayday into nothing but darkness. We dare you to face the drop!
Travellers looking for respite from the fierce Middle Eastern sunshine should make a bee-line to Wild Wadi. Located in the shadows of the opulent Burj Al Arab hotel, this Dubai water park offers more than a dozen rides, each with varying degrees of intensity.
Along with exhilarating flume, tunnel and tornado rides, one of the most incredible attractions at the park is the Wipeout FlowRider. Here would-be surfers can test their cutbacks on one of the only four surfing rides in the world!
Situated on Atlantis, Dubai’s man-made palm-shaped island, Aquaventure has one of the most prestigious postcodes in the world.
Here visitors are treated to a treasure trove of wild attractions: Poseidon’s Revenge sends visitors plummeting 60kph, while the Tower of Neptune’s mega tubes plunge riders into the park’s lazy lagoon.
From high-speed water slides to smaller rides such as the Wet Bubble (a huge bouncy balloon in the centre of the pool), Paphos’ Aphrodite Water Park is a family favourite.
Amble down the Lazy River with the family or paddle with your little ones in the lush tropical water-play areas. Children will adore the park’s Pirate Ship: a 40ft ship chock-full of water cannons and slides. There’s even the opportunity to walk the plank – perfect for punishing parents!
Located in the popular tourist area of Corralejo is Acua Water Park. Also known as Baku Park and Corralejo Water Park, this complex boasts more than 14 attractions, comprising everything from shallow splash areas to soothing Jacuzzis to whopping mega slides.
Slide your way into the depths of the Dark Cave, where each turn is as disorientating as the next. Hang on to Castle Jump’s rope ladder as you propel yourself from the top of the fortress to the pool beneath. Will you make it? There’s only one way to find out!
Idyllically placed along the north-east coast of Salou is PortAventura, a water park which attracts more than four million visitors every year.
This Caribbean-themed water park is a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Hold your nerve as you slip down the Ciclón Tropical (a 100-metre multi-bump slide) and grit your teeth as you conquer the almighty King Khajuna - Europe’s highest free-fall water ride.
Fifteen swash-buckling water rides greet visitors at Costa Blanca’s best water park, Aqualandia.
The park’s most infamous ride is VertiGo, the world’s tallest capsule slide. Hold on tight as you toboggan at 100kph down a fierce 22-metre vertical drop. Once you’ve got your breath back, a visit to the park’s very own Niagara Falls should help calm you down. This idyllic beach setting offers calm waters, mountain caves and, of course, a replica of the world’s most famous waterfall.
The biggest indoor-outdoor water park in Europe, Aquaboulevard is a real family treat. With two huge wave pools, 11 giant water slides, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, lazy rivers and a 4,000 m2 stretch of sandy beach, this is one water park which demands an All Day Pass.
Race friends on the AquaPiste, a huge outdoor slide comprised of six tracks, or catapult at supersonic speeds on the fastest toboggan ride in the park, the AquaTurbo. Prefer to ride the waves? Pick your board and join the Wake Box, a water skiing ride which lets visitors cruise along white-crested artificial waves.