For this month’s Splash issue I’ve been investigating the world’s best water parks, as voted for by the well-travelled and discerning users of Tripadvisor.
Siam Park – Tenerife
If you’d asked me a couple of years ago where the best Water Park in the world was, I’d probably have taken a guess at the over the top, no expense spared aquatic attractions of Orlando or Dubai. Imagine my surprise then to discover that the #1 rated park on earth, for 4 years in a row no less, is in humble Tenerife. I paid a visit, purely in the name of research, to see what all the fuss is about.
Siam Park is a Thai themed water kingdom stretched across a hillside just outside the popular resorts of Adeje and Playa de las Americas. Cleverly designed to make use of the steeply sloped terrain, most of the slides are low level and nestle amongst the landscaped grounds, and the resulting scarcity of high-rise structures visible from outside the gates serves to add to the intrigue for first-time visitors.
Celebrating its 10th Birthday this year, Siam Park is relatively new on the scene, yet attracts over 1.2 million visitors per year to sample its watery wonders. Adrenaline junkies make straight for the Tower of Terror Power, dominating feature of the park, and the only one I swerved. Those braver than I queue up to plunge 28 metres before whizzing through a shark tank at up to 80 kilometres per hour.
For those who prefer a (very slightly) less heart-stopping experience, the dark and disorientating Volcano, scream-inducing Dragon or roller-coaster style Singha are just some of the options, whilst the less adventurous can float lazily along the Mai Thai river, or relax on the impressive white sand Siam Beach, lapped by artificial waves. Can’t decide whether you belong in the shallows or the deep end? Naga Racer and Jungle Snake each offer a taste of excitement without the need for a change of swimwear.
Smaller members of the family don’t miss out, with two dedicated areas designed to provide maximum fun for little ones. The Lost City boasts 15 slides, rope bridges and cascades, whilst Sawasdee offers scaled down versions of some of the park’s star attractions that I was sadly a shade too tall to try out.
If all this wasn’t enough, Siam Park also boasts what is reportedly the largest Dragon Statue in the world. If that’s not worth a visit I really don’t know what is.
Beach Park – Brazil
2nd in the world, but top in Latin America, is Beach Park Brazil. Sitting right beside the beach of Puerto das Dunas in the region of Fortaleza, almost a million visitors per year flock to the resort that this water wonderland is a part.
18 attractions over 35,000 square metres are designed to appeal primarily to families. Well designed, safe, and colourful areas such as Noah’s Ark, Aqua Circus and Treasure Island provide shallow pools, slides, waterfalls, jets and bucket dumps of up to 1800 litres at a time. Aquabismo and Tchibum slides offer low-key exhilaration for slightly bigger kids.
Despite the family feel of this fun-packed park, thrill seekers are not completely forgotten. The monstrous Insano slide makes the Tower of Power look like a toddler slide, with a staggering 41 metre drop (that’s equivalent to 14 storeys, or about the same as Sand Street Car Park) which at one time held the Guinness World Record for highest water slide. Riders accelerate to 105 kilometres per hour before plateauing towards the landing pool, where it’s advisable to check that all major internal organs are still in place.
Waterbom – Bali
Coming Third Worldwide and ranking #1 in Asia, Waterbom Bali is in the South Kuta area of the Island and, of the Top 3 parks, offers the most appeal to daredevils, with the majority of rides falling into the ‘extreme’ category.
In line with the more mature allure of this park, a number of the attractions seem to have been named in homage to low budget adult movies, with the rest giving a nod to the snakes which could (but probably don’t) lurk in the tropical surrounds. Climax, Double Twist and Smashdown 2.0 each feature a jaw-dropping, or indeed floor-dropping, trapdoor system that whips out from under the feet of those brave/foolhardy to have a go, pitching them into freefall at up to 2.5 G force, whilst the Constrictor is the world’s longest water slide, winding through the tree canopy for 250m. That’s about the same length as the tunnel, but is presumably an infinitely more pleasant experience to slither through.
Fast & Fierce, Twin Racers and Green Vipers all allow riders to show off their competitive spirit, and each features two adjacent slides, with the latter twisting and tumbling around each other over a 20 metre descent. Meanwhile Boomerang (what goes up must come down) launches riders through a neon rainbow lit tunnel to build up speed for the near vertical quarter pipe.
It’s not ALL white knuckle thrills at Waterbom however; more gentle exhilaration can be found on the Lazy River which meanders slowly through lush green Indonesian forest, or in the (ahem) Pleasure Pool where the swim-up bar offers cool cocktails, and bronzed sun lovers bask on the surrounding loungers.