Mountain Creek Water Park Overview"The Action is Back." So proclaims the advertising copy for Mountain Creek. The catchphrase has something of a double meaning. Many of the park's rides are quite aggressive and provide more than a fair amount of action. But the tagline also refers to the park's origins.
When it opened in 1976, Mountain Creek was known as Action Park. About the same vintage as pioneers River Country at Walt Disney World and Orlando's Wet 'n Wild, Action Park was one of the industry's first water parks. With hundreds of water parks worldwide, the industry has since matured. Most parks now get their rides from a handful of manufacturers and tend to be cookie-cutter imitations. But with no prototype, Action Park's developers had to make it up as they went along.
That led to some tragic missteps when a series of fatalities occurred at the park in the 1980s. It's not surprising that its new owner changed the park's name in 1998 (even if it obliquely conjures its origins through its advertising slogans). The most notorious rides are gone, but echoes of the distinctive water park remain.
Instead of water slide towers that rise off of the ground, most of the parks' rides use the mountain's terrain. That means walking around the park's steep grade requires a bit of huffing and puffing. It also means that none of the slides or other attractions are visible to motorists along Route 94. In fact, with its small signs and low profile, those passing by may not even know the park is there unless they are looking for it.
Look out for the mogulsOnce inside the park, it can be a bit disorienting trying to find the rides. Because they use the mountain's topography, many of the slides meander under pathways, twist and turn into each other, and otherwise remain camouflaged by the park's dense trees. One sure way to find the rides: follow the screams.
Mountain Park's unique rides, particularly the older ones, are unusually hard-hitting. For example, the Colorado River, which the park describes rather benignly as a family raft ride, is devilishly rowdy. Family members need to hang on for dear life as the river's steep pitch builds up tremendous speed and moguls built into the trough send the rafts careening. As if it wasn't bewildering enough, at one point the rafts enter a cave-like structure for a nearly lights-out ride. I'm not complaining, mind you. Thrills are the Holy Grail for many park enthusiasts, myself included. But the Colorado River's red diamond rating, the park's second-highest level, combined with its designation as a family ride is misleading. This was nearly as wild as any water slide I've ever tried.
Untamed, almost out-of-control experiences abound at Mountain Creek. Bombs Away's short slide abruptly ends and sends brave souls freefalling about 15 feet into a gulch. The adjacent Canyon Cliffs skips the slide; daredevils simply jump off the edge for a 20-foot dive into the water. Even Cannon Ball Falls, a pair of run-of-the-mill looking enclosed body slides, accelerate quickly (they're located on a particularly steep part of the mountain) and dump riders about seven feet above a pool of water where, cartoon-character style, they momentarily defy gravity before dropping with a thud.
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