If the beach is not enough, then there are also a number of water parks in Florida offering everything from wave pools, water slides and chutes to swimming with sharks or dolphins.
One of the earliest water parks was Wet ’n Wild in Orlando which opened in 1977. It had a number of traditional water slides and chutes and in 2017 was replaced by the new Universal Volcano Bay water park.
Today, Florida has 5 of the 7 top spots for most visited water parks in North America (i.e. including Canada) according to TEA/ERA in their annual Theme Park Attendance Reports. Figures show estimated 2017 numbers (with 2016 numbers and change):
|Rank||Park and Location||2017||2016||Change|
|1||Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, Orlando, Florida||2,163,000||2,277,000||-5.0%|
|2||Disney’s Blizzard Beach at Disney World, Orlando, Florida||1,945,000||2,091,000||-7.0%|
|3||Universal’s Volcano Bay, Orlando, Florida||1,500,000||-||New|
|4||Aquatica, Orlando, Florida||1,382,000||1,536,000||-10.0%|
|5||Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas||1,006,000||1,037,000||-3.0%|
|6||Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia||711,000||733,000||-3.0%|
|7||Adventure Island, Tampa, Florida||631,000||650,000||-2.9%|
|8||Six Flags White Water, Georgia||559,000||568,000||-1.6%|
|9||Schlitterbahn, Galveston, Texas||545,000||562,000||-3.0%|
|10||Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Arlington, Texas||533,000||549,000||-2.9%|
Disney has built two landscaped water parks in Orlando, firstly Typhoon Lagoon which is based around a tropical island lagoon and provides an enormous wave pool simulating the surf on a beach and also offers an opportunity to swim over a tropical reef inhabited by (harmless!) nurse sharks. They then created Blizzard Beach which is bizarrely modelled on a ski resort. This park is more for the thrill seeker with impressive water chutes.
Following on from the success of SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Entertainment (as it was then called) then created an exclusive water park across the road called Discovery Cove where you can laze on an artificial beach, swim with tropical reef fish and stingrays or interact with dolphins.
They then built a second water park, Aquatica which opened in April 2008 and is similar to the two Disney water parks.
Bad WeatherFor safety reasons, most water parks will close temporarily during bad weather, for example at the approach of a thunderstorm. You may also find them closed during the winter months because of the cooler temperatures or for renovations. Those water parks that normally stay open during the winter may still close if the temperatures dip too low.
In recent years, Cypress Gardens added a water park to their botanical gardens, zoo and theme park rides though it closed in 2009. It has now re-opened as part of the new Legoland Florida theme park.
Today there are a number of water parks in Florida (those marked with an asterisk are only open during the Spring/Summer months):
- Adventure Island, next to Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay *
- Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island, Jacksonville Beach *
- Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park, Orlando
- Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, Destin *
- Blizzard Beach, Disney World Orlando
- Buccaneer Bay inside Weeki Wachee Springs *
- Calypso Bay Waterpark, Royal Palm Beach
- CoCo Key Water Resort, International Drive, Orlando
- Coconut Cove Waterpark, Boca Raton
- Daytona Lagoon, Daytona Beach *
- Discovery Cove, next to SeaWorld Orlando
- Gator Gully Splash Park inside Gatorland, Kissimmee
- Rapids Water Park, West Palm Beach *
- Sam’s Surf City Water Park, Pensacola *
- Shipwreck Island, Panama City Beach *
- Splash Island at Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven * — Reopened as part of Legoland
- Sun Splash Family Waterpark, Cape Coral *
- Typhoon Lagoon, Disney World Orlando
- Universal’s Volcano Bay, Orlando
- Wet n’ Wild, Orlando — Now closed
- Wild Waters at Silver Springs, Ocala — Now closed
Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon close for just a couple of months for maintenance during the winter though Disney stagger the closing times to ensure that one park remains open.
For historical data, see our article and graphic showing the increase in Florida theme park visitors from 1998 to the present day.
See also:- Buying Theme Park Tickets