Skip to main content

12 of the world's best water parks

By Tamara Hinson, for CNN
July 31, 2013 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
This Thai-themed water park offers surf lessons in the wave pool, which is capable of creating waves up to nine feet (three meters) high. This Thai-themed water park offers surf lessons in the wave pool, which is capable of creating waves up to nine feet (three meters) high.
HIDE CAPTION
Siam Park (Tenerife, Spain)
Aquaventure Waterpark (Dubai, UAE)
Aquatica (Orlando, Florida)
Area 47 (Innsbruck, Austria)
Beach Park (Fortaleza, Brazil)
Caribbean Bay (Gyeonggi-do, South Korea)
Tropical Islands (Krausnick, Germany)
Watercube Waterpark (Beijing)
WaterWorld Waterpark (Ayia Napa, Cyprus)
Wet 'n Wild (Orlando, Florida)
World Waterpark (Alberta, Canada)
Yas Waterworld (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World's second-largest indoor water park found in Alberta, Canada
  • Watercube Waterpark in Beijing is China's second-most popular attraction, after Great Wall
  • Tropical Islands water park in Germany housed inside largest free-standing hall in the world

(CNN) -- Some of us are lucky enough to live within a rogue inflatable ball's reach of the world's best beaches.

Some of us can paddle out for a ride on the greatest waves on a whim.

For those of us who live further inland, or prefer something less salty, there are still watery joys to be had, in the form of the world's best water parks.

Aquatica (Orlando, Florida)

One enormous wave pool obviously wasn't enough for the team behind Aquatica, so they built two, side by side.

Elsewhere, the Dolphin Plunge water slide takes passengers on a white-knuckle ride through a dolphin-filled aquarium and riders brave enough to take on the Omaka Rocka blast down a series of flumes and funnels.

There's a sandy beach covered with 1,360 tons of soft, white sand and South Seas-inspired gardens with more than 60,000 species of plants.

Aquatica, 5800 Water Play Way, Orlando, Florida; +1 888 800 5447

Aquaventure Waterpark (Dubai, UAE)

As of 2013, this Middle East water park is home to the world's widest water slide, the Middle East's longest river ride (2.3 kilometers in length) and the Middle East's longest zip line.

The park's other attractions include several water coasters, a 2,296-foot-long (700 meters) private beach and the Shark Lagoon, where visitors can hand-feed rays.

Aquaventure, Crescent Road, The Palm, Dubai, UAE; +971 4 426 0000

Area 47 (Innsbruck, Austria)

An Alpine lake is the location for this outdoor water park, which opens from April to the end of September.

There are water rides, a diving tower and a hydro-speed slide.

On dry land there's a high-ropes course, bridge swing and climbing wall.

Area 47, Ötztaler Achstrasse 1, Ötztal Bahnhof, Austria; +43 5266 8 76 76

Related: Top water parks of the United States

Beach Park (Fortaleza, Brazil)

Beach Park\'s Insano is the world\'s tallest and fastest water slide.
Beach Park's Insano is the world's tallest and fastest water slide.

Beach Park's most famous ride is Insano, which ranks as the world's tallest (135 feet/41 meters) and fastest (65 mph/104 kph) water slide.

Equally petrifying is Kalafrio, a giant half-pipe slide.

Younger visitors can check out an enormous big top-themed play area or the Acqua Show, with water cannons, synchronized water jets and eight water slides just for kids.

Beach Park, Rua Porto das Dunas, Fortaleza, Brazil; +55 85 4012 3000

Caribbean Bay (Gyeonggi-do, South Korea)

You'll find four looping water slides and an enormous wave pool at this South Korean water park, alongside more traditional attractions such as hot spring pools.

Exhausted visitors can power nap in one of the water park's sleeping rooms, which have purified air and beds carved from energy-boosting jade.

Caribbean Bay, 310 Jeondae-Ri, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea; +82 2 759 1940 7 

Siam Park (Tenerife, Spain)

Siam Park is a Thai-themed water park on the island of Tenerife.

The park's most popular ride is the 91-foot-high (27 meters) Tower of Power, on which riders plunge down a vertical drop before shooting through an aquarium filled with stingrays and sharks.

A lazy river and surf lessons in the park's wave pool offer slightly more sedate activities.

Siam Park, Avenida Siam Park, Costa Adeje, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain; +34 902 060 000

Tropical Islands (Krausnick, Germany)

Housed inside the largest free-standing hall in the world -- the structure was originally built as a hangar for dirigibles -- Tropical Islands can accommodate 6,000 visitors a day and has one of the world's largest indoor pools, measuring 656 feet (200 meters) in length.

Away from the water, there's a rainforest with 50,000 plants, a hotel and a nightclub. It's even possible to go for a balloon ride -- all without stepping outside.

Tropical Islands, Tropical-Islands-Allee 1, Germany; +49 35477 605050

Watercube Waterpark (Beijing)

As fun to look as it is to ride.
As fun to look as it is to ride.

All of the rides at Watercube Waterpark were designed overseas and shipped in.

Highlights include the funnel-shaped Tornado ride, Aqualoop slide and Bulletbowl, where riders shoot down an enclosed slide into a huge bowl.

Visitors should keep an eye out for the enormous jellyfish and clouds of bubbles suspended from the ceiling.

Happy Magic Watercube, Olympic Park, BeiChen Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing; +86 010 8437 2030

WaterWorld Waterpark (Ayia Napa, Cyprus)

Foam parties aren't the only way to cool off in Ayia Napa.

The WaterWorld Water Park has a Grecian theme, with lots of pillars and Trojan horse-shaped monuments.

Poseidon's Wave Pool has Greek ruins, geysers and shipwrecks, the River Odyssey lazy river has crumbling stone pillars and the vertigo-inducing Drop to Atlantis shoots riders out of an enormous Roman temple.

WaterWorld Waterpark, 18 Ayia Thekla Road, Ayia Napa, Cyprus; +357 23 724444

Wet 'n Wild (Orlando, Florida)

Visitors are spoiled for choice at Wet 'n Wild.

In addition to various scream-fest water rides, there's a huge sandcastle-themed children's area (reportedly the largest family water play area in Florida), a wave pool and lazy river.

One the most popular rides is Disco H20. Passengers on this four-person tube ride float along to a soundtrack of 1970s hits accompanied by disco balls and flashing lights.

Wet 'n Wild, 6200 International Drive, Orlando, Florida; +1 407 351 1800

World Waterpark (Alberta, Canada)

Canada\'s very own greenhouse effect.
Canada's very own greenhouse effect.

Located inside Alberta's West Edmonton Mall, this is the world's second-largest indoor water park and has the world's largest indoor wave pool, with 2.7 million gallons of water.

Attractions include a looping water slide and Blue Thunder, a bungee jump tower suspended over the wave pool.

World Waterpark, 1755, 8882 170 St., Edmonton, Canada; +1 780 444 5313

Yas Waterworld (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Opened in 2013, Yas Waterworld has 43 rides and attractions, including five unique water slides created specially for the park.

These include Dawwama, the world's first hydro-magnetic-powered water slide (the hydro-magnetic technology offers a longer, smoother ride, according to the manufacturer) and the Bandit Bomber, a 1,804-foot-long (550-meter) water coaster.

Visitors can hang ten on the world's largest FlowBarrel surf simulator, or take a spin on Liwa Loop -- the Middle East's only looping water slide.

Yas Waterworld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE; +971 2 414 2000

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2042 GMT (0442 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 0624 GMT (1424 HKT)
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0710 GMT (1510 HKT)
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0923 GMT (1723 HKT)
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT