Welcome to yet another unbearable iteration of the soul-crushing heat and insufferable humidity fusion that we call summer. It's the time of year when Floridians stock up on sunscreen, find bulk deals on mosquito spray and make note of the coldest Publix near their house in the inevitable case that their A/C goes bust during triple-digit temperatures. But hey, it's not all bad – one of the best ways to keep yourself cool from those burning rays is by going to a water park, and Orlando has plenty of those. Wet 'n Wild, one of the city's best-loved parks, closed late last year, putting an end to a nearly 40-year saga on International Drive that inspired modern water parks across the country. Still, there are plenty of other options in town for a splashing good time in a summer that promises to be sizzling.
Universal Orlando's newest water attraction opened its doors May 25, and the hype is real. This new theme park splits 18 different rides into four sections that explore the lives of "Waturi Islanders," a clear spin on Polynesian culture. The Volcano boasts a 200-foot-tall volcano called Krakatau that features indoor water slides, a four-person canoe ride that plunges through a waterfall, a 125-foot body plunge drop and racing manta ray mats that explore underwater sea caves. The River Village includes a slow ride on a winding river beneath the lava rocks and into a stargazer's cavern. But perhaps the most enticing part of Volcano Bay is the ease of it all. Guests will be given a TapuTapu, a waterproof watch-like device that holds their place in a virtual line and does away with the hassle of waiting.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park is a local favorite that has activities for the entire family. Attractions include the Crush 'n' Gusher roller-coaster-like raft ride, the Humunga Kowabunga five-story drop, huge waves and the newest addition to Typhoon Lagoon, Miss Adventure Falls. This attraction, in which a four-person raft takes guests on a fast-paced waterslide adventure to spy treasures scattered by a rogue typhoon with the help of an animatronic parrot, is billed as the "longest ride in the history of the Disney water parks."
SeaWorld Orlando's water park sends you voyaging on rapid raft rides at HooRoo Run, down a unique multi-drop tower at Breakaway Falls and through a lot of watery slides. This water park stands out in Orlando for attractions incorporating animals, such as a tube plunge through the underwater home of some black-and-white Commerson's dolphins. Aquatica also has some cool perks, including swimming lessons for children provided by American Red Cross certified instructors and "cashless wristbands," a way to spend bucks without wetting your wallet.
Disney's second water park has a chillier theme than the first one, which makes it all the more interesting than the rest of the parks. This outdoor ski resort includes attractions like toboggan racers, a ski patrol training camp, and a freefall body slide drop off the top of Mount Gushmore. Blizzard Beach guests can also enjoy a 3,000-foot-long tube ride on the lazy river at Cross Country Creek. If you're a fan of the animated movie Frozen, check out the winter games with Kristoff and the adorable talking snowman Olaf.