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High Speeds, Lazy Rivers and Vertical Plunges: Florida’s Top Water Parks Have It All

Whatever changes might happen in Florida, there are some things that will always be a constant in the Sunshine State: great weather, beautiful beaches and Disney World.

And, of course, water parks.

Water parks and Florida go together like fireworks and the Fourth of July. The state – and it’s typically beautiful year-round weather – is the perfect place to enjoy water slides, wave pools and lazy rivers.

Really, the only challenge is choosing which one is the best to visit.

The Best of the Best: Florida’s Top Water Parks

Florida's Top Water Parks and SlidesOpinions vary, but looking at multitudes of lists from different sources such as the Travel Chanel and Trip Advisor – plus blogs and websites from enthusiastic water park fans – these five appear at or near the top of most lists.

Some of these are not only considered the best water parks in Florida, but all the world.

Aquatica at Seaworld Orlando

 This water park is actually more than just a water park – it manages to pack in slides, tubes and wave pools with animal encounters. The SeaWorld water park features one of the most famous water slides in the world, the Dolphin Plunge, which allows you to plunge via a tube through an environment where a black-and-white Commerson’s Dolphins live. There is also a wide array of slides, pools and rivers, as well as a chance to get an up close look at the dolphins and the African Spurred Tortoise.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach, Lake Buena Vista

Leave it to Disney to combine an attraction associated with summer and put it in a winter setting. Built to look like a ski resort, Blizzard Beach even has a chair lift to take you to the top of “Mount Gushmore.” There are also wave pools, areas specifically for small kids, and the Cross Country Creek, a lazy river flowing through the entire park. The more adventurous will want to ride the Summit Plummet, one of the world’s tallest freefall slides.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Lake Buena Vista

As if one wasn’t enough, Disney has another world-class water park in Lake Buena Vista. Among the attractions at Typhoon Lagoon is the huge surfing lagoon that features six-foot high waves. There are plenty of slides and tubes to ride, and you can also snorkel in the 362-gallon Shark Reef. The Humunga Kowabunga ride features a 5-story drop through the dark. Yes, you read that right.

Adventure Island, Tampa.

Ranked among the best water parks for families on the Visit Florida website, Adventure Island – not far from Busch Gardens in Tampa – features the Rambling Bayou lazy river, the Endless Surf wave pool and a vast array of water slides and tubes, including the Calypso Coaster, the Runaway Rapids and the Colossal Curl, where you can experience – briefly – total weightlessness as you travel through its combination of funnel and wave elements.

Rapids Water Park, Riviera Beach

This park excels at offering a number of thrill rides. Perhaps the most impressive is the Big Thunder, which takes people on a multi-person raft through a dark tunnel and a 45-degree drop in a funnel where they also experience a brief “zero G” moment. There is also the Rapids Racer, where you can race your friends and family down a slide, as well as the Pirates Plunge, where riders navigate twisting tubes and loops.

Creating Your Own Water Park Experience

Don’t have the time to visit a water park in the near future? You can create your own park in your own backyard or for an event you are planning.

The popularity of water parks in Florida and elsewhere has led to the creation of companies, such as AirFun Games in New Port Richey, Fla. – that offer inflatable water slides that recreate the water park experience. Rides include inflatables such as the Double Lane Kahuna Water Slide (so you race side-by-side) and the Rampage Water Slide, which allows you to slide up and down like a skater in the half pipe.

Whether you make a trip to one of the Sunshine State’s best water parks or rent one for yourself, there are plenty of options for the water park enthusiast.

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