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Ki - ora!!!
Aquatica Water Park (Orlando, Florida)
Member Name: frankie1984
Aquatica Water Park (Orlando, Florida)
Advantages: Fun, clean, animals in the park, sandy beach area
Disadvantages: Rides aren't maybe as fast as rides at other water parks
I have been lucky enough to visit Aquatica three times now since it's open in March of 2008. Not bad going since I live in the UK! The first time I visited the park was actually before it even opened as part of a work trip where they took a group of us to show us what to expect once it opened. It was quite a strange experience being in a water park and there not actually being any water in any of the slides. In fact we stood overlooking the park from the top of the slides so that our guide could point out where everything would be and I remember thinking how good it already looked (this was during December 2007 so not long until it opened!). I was quite excited as I already at this point had my holiday booked for March of 2009 and by then I knew the park would have been open for a year and hopefully therefore should be all in good working order!
So after visiting in March of 2009 I then travelled back to Florida a second time in 2009 in September with my mum and we decided to do one of the many water parks. After discussing with my mum what she wanted from the park I decided from all of them that Aquatica would probably be the one she'd enjoy the most and so we booked tickets online. This was a very simple and fairly quick process and after a quick sign up taking the usual details we were able to buy our adult one day ticket of which we decided to have as an e-ticket which meant we simply printed off at home that had a barcode on, took to the gates when we arrived, scanned and we were in! Of course they do advise taking the card you paid off and also ID just in case but, we were not asked for these on this occasion.
Ok so I've been twice in one year - it must be good right? Well yes of course I think so! There are as mentioned many water parks located in Florida which of course many UK visitors come to visit each year. Aquatica is still the newest of them all and it is owned by Seaworld although technically they have just been bought out by Blackstone. The park has many slides, a wave pool, places to sunbathe and swim, food and drink outlets and of course animals. Oh hang on, that's not something you normally find in a water park is it? Well this is what makes Aquatica slightly different to others - they have an array of animals dotted around the park of which guests can learn about and see during the day. The most notable of these are the Commerson's Dolphins which have a home here.
The park I feel is also very well kept. Constantly during the day you will see staff sweeping sand up, cleaning up and generally keeping the place spotless. The park also looks good in a way that makes it feel inviting and somewhere that not only would you go to have fun but, you could chill out too. The bright colours combined with quite wide pathways make it feel spacious and bits of greenery and gorgeous flowers dotted around the park are nice too.
Of course the main attraction of any water park are the slides! Aquatica has a good range of slides some of which can be ridden by single riders and some which can be ridden as a group. These are the slides that are in Aquatica:
Tassie's twisters - a slide ridden by one person at a time whereby the rider sits in an inflatable ring and zooms down a slide into a large 'bowl' where they then swish around a few times before then going down another tunnel and landing into the water connected onto the lazy river.
Loggerhead lane: This is the lazy river connected onto Tassie's twisters - the river isn't overly long but, a good way to just sit and float along enjoying the sunshine. You can sit in a single tube or a double tube and the unique point of this lazy river compared to other water parks is the huge fish tank you float past loaded with tropical fish!
Dolphin Plunge - located right near the entrance to the park is the slide everyone is talking about coming to see - a standard water slide in a tunnel that at one point is in a transparent tube which passes through the dolphin's habitat. A great idea although the problem is, that unless the dolphins are right next to the tube as you go past you won't even see them! If you actually want to see the dolphins it is better to just watch them from the side of their tank which is just around from the rides entrance where the huge glass wall of the tank allows you to watch them swimming around!
Whanau Way - this is a ride designed to be ridden in an inflatable tube and can be rode by one or two riders. The riders can choose from one of four slides which all have a few twists and turns before plunging into the large pool at the bottom. Of course it makes sense to try them all!
Cutback cove and big surf shores - this is the main pool and surf area where guests can either swim around, relax in the shallow shore end or have fun when the waves are on! The area is split into two by a rock wall and the waves normally takes place at intervals throughout the day. When they are on they usually last for around 3 minutes at a time and they always announce when the waves are coming! This area is also where the biggest spot of sun loungers are which are spread across a huge sandy area. Around the cove are private cabanas that can be rented for the day and give that little bit of extra comfort although they are not cheap at around a starting price of $99 for the day. This is for up to 4 people although you can have up to 7 guests per cabana with each guest over the first 4 paying an extra $15. The price includes 4 soft drinks per person and an all day locker.
Kookaburra Cove - This is the area designed just for the little ones. Located next to the surf shore area, it has it's own swim area and array of play areas and smaller slides.
Taumata Racers - this is one of my favourite rides in the park! The ride consists of 8 single rider slides all next to each other. Rider race down the slides head first lay on a mat through a twisting tunnel before coming out into the open slide area and plunging down a drop to the bottom. The ride is quite fast and the drop on the slide is quite steep too so it is perfect for those who like the faster slides!
Walkabout waters - this is a huge play area for both children and adults alike! The area has an assortment of tunnels and walkways along with a few very small slide for the little ones. Dotted all around this area are water guns, waterfalls and the best bit are the two huge water buckets on the very top that once full, tip over covering everyone in a huge waterfall! This is a brilliant area and on my first trip here when it was open myself and my husband spent some time firing water guns at each other and standing under the huge water buckets!
Walhalla wave - a water ride designed for up to 4 riders where they sit in a big rubber ring. This ride takes you down a slide by twisting and turning and ending in a splash in the pool at the bottom. The ride is a good length and starts off 6 storeys high.
Hooroo Run - this is actually located right next to Walhalla wave and is the same concept whereby up to 4 people can ride in the ring at the same time however this is literally a straight slide down with 4 dips along the way. It looks quite tame from the bottom but, in actual fact is quite good fun because it does go quite fast and whoever ends up facing backwards definitely has the better ride down!
Roa's Rapids - this is the same concept as the lazy river but, as faster version and this one you float or swim along. I didn't notice it on the sign anywhere but, the lifeguard did advise people they had to wear a life vest to go in which is probably because it is quite fast flowing. However this makes it more fun as then you simply bob along without really having to swim! The rapids are located right in the centre of the park.
Other things in the park:
I've already mentioned them both in part of the ride descriptions but, don't forget to check out the Dolphins habitat and also try and catch them during feeding time where you can see the trainers also showing guests some of the tricks the dolphins know. The hug fish tank is brilliant to look at and also in the park is a stand near to the beach area where Parrots can be seen up close.
Guests in the park can also hire lockers for the day with a small locker priced at $5 and a large at $10. Both require a deposit of $5 which s refundable when you return the key. Unless you literally have a whole load of stuff with you a small locker is perfectly adequate to fit a couple of bags and change of clothes in.
There is also a couple of shops dotted around the park where you can buy souvenirs and the like - prices are on par with most other theme and water park gift shops. I did buy a T shirt on my visit the first time as it was so hot I didn't want to burn and it was around $20 which wasn't too bad. It has washed quite well too and so not too bad quality either.
Lifeguards are dotted around the park with at least two on every ride and plenty dotted around all the pools. There are many rules for the park such as no smoking except in designated areas and also as the park is a family park guests are asked to dress appropriately.
Food and drink:
There are plenty of places to get food and drink in the park which you would have to buy whilst there as coolers are not allowed into the parks. The Banana Beach cookout is worth paying for if you know you will eat a lot during the day as for a set price it is all you can eat style. You can either choose to pay one price for one meal with as much as you can eat in one go or pay a slightly higher price to be able to come and go all day and this then includes a refillable drink all day too.
If you're not a big eater and you'll just have the one meal then the Waterstone grill serves meals all day along with alcoholic beverages. The Mango market is the other main food outlet where it is more snack based and should you wish to take food back to your lounger rather than eat on the table provided they will wrap it up for you and can even put it in a picnic basket!
Prices are not that low as to be expected from a water park with an average meal at Waterstone grill at around $8. The portions are quite big though and definitely filling. Of course the better the exchange rate the better the prices become!
The park has a fairly big car park attached to it and current rates are at $12 per standard car for the day. I know a few other parks in Orlando have recently put their parking charges up to $14 per day and I would have thought it wouldn't be long before many more do the same. Charges for vans are higher at around $17 per vehicle. You can also pay extra for parking closer to the gates but, for the sake of saving some dollars it is not that far to the gates! Disabled parking is located closer at no extra charge.
Also if you pay for parking at either here or Seaworld you can park the same day for free at the other one. This is especially useful when in high season guests will spend the day at Seaworld and then come to have a swim in the evening at Aquatica.
Location of the Park:
The park was built on land that used to be completely empty just off of International Drive. The park is officially located on Water Play way which I thought was a clever name for them to come up with and the park is literally across the road from Seaworld.
These vary depending on the time of year with the earliest opening time at 9am and latest closing time at 10pm. These hours tend to be during the summer months and during the lower season hours tend to be more 10-5pm. If there are storms the rides can be closed and if weather gets too bad the park can close completely. Also be aware that during busy periods if the park reaches capacity they will stop allowing more in so if you are set on going during high season you should try to arrive early.
Entrances fees are $44 on average for a one day ticket. This may sound high and the best way of getting a cheaper entrance is to bulk buy all your theme park tickets in one go. If you are travelling from the UK and doing all the Seaworld and Universal parks then the cheapest way to do it is to buy a flex ticket before you travel to the US. The average UK price for one of these is around £150 - 160 per adult and £140 -150 per child. Sound expensive at first but, this includes 5 parks altogether and you can go in and out as many times as you like within a 14 day period which means on average it works out a lot cheaper. You can even go in and out different parks the same day so it is well worth it.
I think Aquatica is a great water park. I like how it looks and the rides are decent although they are not the fastest I've ever been on they do what you want which is to provide lots of fun! The wave pool is again a great thing which even though compared to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon's wave pool, it is not as high, it is still a good pool. The water temperature throughout the park is consistent all day and during colder weather the water is heated more. During our recent visit the temperatures hit 100f so we were glad to be able to cool down in the water! The staff are all very helpful and although not the cheapest the food is very nice too.
Yes if you are looking for bigger and faster rides you are probably better off visiting Wet and Wild but, to be honest if you want a combination of decent rides and somewhere nice to relax, then this park is for you as Wet and Wild does not have a sandy beach area to relax on and if this is important to you then this park has it all. I would always visit this park if in Orlando as it provides everything I need from a day in a water park. Recommended!
Summary: A great new water park to enjoy in Florida!
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