5 Great Water Parks for Families

by Abbie Kozolchyk

5 Great Water Parks for Families

Sure, any ol' pool will entertain them. But throw in, say, a full-size pirate ship or a 1,000-gallon dunk tank, and you've reached kiddie nirvana. Get the lowdown on these primo water parks around the U.S., perfect for family travel

The Pool: The bigger-than-a-foot-ball-field water zone at Great Wolf Lodge, Wisconsin Dells, WI;

Why It Rules: Fort Mackenzie: the four-story tree house with suspension bridges, swinging family-size fishing nets, and a 1,000-gallon “bucket” that—spoiler alert!—tips unexpectedly 

Dry Off, Then: Check out the resort-wide MagiQuest—the enchanted objects, talking wizards, goblin battles, and magic wand will literally do the trick. Ten minutes away is Bigfoot Zipline Tours (


The Pool: Lagoon Pool at Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn, Orlando, FL;

Why It Rules: A zero-entry, heated oasis from which a four-story water tower rises, with flumes, climbing nets, water cannons, and a massive dump tank that spills water—and green slime.

Dry Off, Then: Join the audience-participation-to-the-max shows at Studio Nick. Or float at iFly ( It's like skydiving without the diving or, well, the sky: Kids 3 and up soar on a column of air.


The Pool: The eight-pool playground at Smugglers' Notch Resort, Smugglers' Notch, VT;

Why It Rules: Big sibs can turbo-slide down the Giant Rapid River Ride; wee ones get the Turtle Mini Water Slide. At the Little Smugglers' Lagoon, tots squeal over the lily-pad walk and mini-tubing.

Dry Off, Then: Make the 45-minute pilgrimage to the Ben & Jerry's factory ( Picnic on the grounds, home to the Flavor Graveyard (RIP: Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz), then taste till you drop.


The Pool: The pools at Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, HI;

Why It Rules: A pirate ship! Smack in the middle of the keiki (kids') pool. And in the unlikely event the little pillagers tire of this vessel, there's a waterfall to ride over.

Dry Off, Then: Catch a real submarine ride at Atlantis Adventures. The kiddos will gape at neon tropical fish and a sunken ship up close (


The Pool: The waterpark at Kalahari Resort, Sandusky, OH;

Why It Rules: The safari-themed rides here are cooler than Africa (literally). Most impressive: the Swahili Swirl that sends you swishing down and around a ginormous bowl.

Dry Off, Then: Brave the 50 life-size animatronic reptilians at Dinosaurs Alive (, Ohio's Jurassic Park.