Although summer is creeping to a close, there’s still at least a month of hot weather left to endure. The best way to cool off on a hot day is a trip to the water park.
Schlitterbahn Kansas City and Oceans of Fun are great choices for local families, as well as smaller community pools and splash pads. However, if you’ve already enjoyed what the Northwest Missouri area has to offer and have room for one last weekend trip, give White Water in Branson, Mo., a try. Along with Schlitterbahn Kansas City, White Water recently ranked high on travel guide company Fodor’s “10 Best Water Parks in the U.S.” list.
Many of the other parks on the list are much larger than White Water, but the list stated that its family-friendly atmosphere, new attractions and unique features helped push it to the top. Cory Roebuck, director of operations at the park, says his staff was pleased with the recognition.
“I think we’re very proud of that but I don’t think it surprised any of us. We always strive to do our best. ... We were honored just to even be mentioned,” he says.
White Water is themed after a tropical island oasis, which Mr. Roebuck says helps guests relax, unwind and forget they’re in the middle of the Midwest.
“You feel like you’re on a vacation. You leave the regular world, and leave your problems at the door,” he says.
The park is divided into several areas that showcase different slides and attractions. Ohana Falls is a large raft ride that lets the whole family go down the slide at once. Aloha River combines calm floating waters with fountains, geysers and waterfalls. Kalani Towers sends guests shooting down 300-foot slides on mats at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Mr. Roeback says it’s one of his favorite features.
His newest favorite, though, is the park’s newest attraction. White Water debuted KaPau Plummet in May and it quickly has become the park’s most popular ride. Guests enter a capsule with a see-through floor that drops out from under them, sending them down a 70-degree plunge. Then they twist and turn through a tube slide before finishing with a big splash at the bottom.
Besides its many fun rides and play places, White Water is known for its unusual operating hours that allow families to experience the park after dark. Mr. Roebuck says the extended hours started a few years ago after park staff listened to guest requests and strove to accommodate families who wanted to visit later in the day.
“A lot of parks operate during day, but we stay open until 10, and sometimes we have activities that last until midnight. ... We have a whole crowd that wants to come out after the sun sets,” Mr. Roebuck says.
“Night Water” is 5 to 10 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in July and August. Guests can enter at a reduced ticket price after 5 p.m., and each night has a different featured activity.
Thursdays are Buck Nights, where several food and drink items like bratwurst, cotton candy and fountain sodas only cost $1. Mr. Roebuck says visitors think this is a nice change from the usually inflated food costs at most theme parks.
Fridays are “Dive-In Movies.” Guests can float and play in the water while watching a family movie on the Wave Pool Big Screen. “Back to the Future,” “E.T.,” “Monsters University” and “Tangled” are the slated screenings for August.
Saturday nights end with a five minute Red, White and Boom fireworks show, which starts at 10 p.m. every week as an exciting visitor send-off.
“We’re one of the few water parks in the U.S. that offers fireworks,” Mr. Roebuck says.
No matter what kind of water adventure you’re looking for, White Water has attractions to please the whole family. It might not be the biggest, but it’s certainly one of the best.
“While smaller than some of the other parks on this list, White Water Park makes up for its size with its well-organized, family-centered park,” Fodor’s states.
Visit www.silverdollarcity.com/white-water to learn more.