Yup, It's WildThe park is true to its name and places more of an emphasis on wild thrills than its Florida water park rivals. The most intense ride is The Bomb Bay. Other water parks have since copied the concept, but Wet 'n Wild was among the first to place riders in a capsule with a trap door that releases them into a water slide. The anticipation helps spike their adrenaline to frenetic levels, and once The Bomb Bay opens, the 76-foot, nearly 90-degree freefall makes for one explosive ride. A second speed slide, Der Stuka, is more conventional, but at 60 feet tall and with an almost-vertical drop, it too ranks high on the thrill scale.
There are two bowl rides at the park, which both send passengers swirling around before flushing them out the bottom. Single riders enter the open bowl of The Storm without a raft or tube and, after navigating a few revolutions, get unceremoniously dumped three feet down into a splash pool. Disco H2O, however, propels four-person cloverleaf tubes into a closed bowl that incorporates disco-era music and lights. Other noteworthy thrill rides include Brain Wash, an enclosed funnel ride decked out in trippy colors, and The Black Hole, a long two-person raft ride in a dark, enclosed tube that includes bursts of sound and color.
Along with the usual gaggle of water park staples, including a lazy river, a wave pool, and a family raft ride (you gotta love the name: Bubba Tub), the park offers some unique ride opportunities in The Wake Zone. The extra-fee rides, which are located in a lake at the back of the park, include wake skating and knee skiing, both of which involve being pulled by a cable towline while plucky guests balance on a wakeboard and a kneeboard, respectively. The balance-impaired might want to opt for The Wild One, a ride in which passengers in tubes are tethered to a boat that whips them across the lake at high speeds.
Younger splashers will want to head for the less wild slides and features at Blastaway Beach, a huge interactive water play center. The park also offers sand volleyball. Dining options include a pizza stand, BBQ, and a large snack bar with a variety of choices. There is also a full-service restaurant and lounge that offers alcoholic beverages.
The First Water Park?As for the world's first water park claim, Disney World opened River Country in 1976. (The resort has since closed the park.) The following year, Wet 'n Wild opened. Disney's version, which was themed as a rural swimming hole, was fairly small, quite tame, and lacked many of the attractions that are now commonly associated with water parks, such as a wave pool. Wet 'n Wild offered more, and more intense, rides and became the prototype for the modern-day park.
It was the brainchild of the late George Millay, a prolific visionary who also founded the SeaWorld parks and Magic Mountain. Millay expanded the concept and developed a chain of Wet 'n Wild parks, including the now-shuttered Wet 'n Wild Las Vegas. The original Orlando park is now owned and operated by Universal Parks. It is not located on the grounds of Universal Orlando (although it is nearby), but the resort does offer ticket packages that include admission to the water park.
Operating ScheduleThe park is open year round (weather permitting). Call the park or visit its Web site to confirm hours.
Discounted tickets, which are lower than the single-day passes available at the gate or online from the park, are available through the ticket agency, Best of Orlando. Buy direct from Best of Orlando.
Will you be visiting a bunch of parks? Consider the Orlando FlexTicket, which bundles unlimited admission passes for 14 days to Wet 'n Wild Orlando as well as SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, Universal Studios Florida, and Islands of Adventure. The package price is less than the combined single-park ticket prices. A 6-park deal tosses in Busch Gardens Tampa and includes free bus transportation between Orlando and Tampa. Buy direct from Best of Orlando.
From I-4, take Exit 75A and follow the signs.
Water Park Features:
New for 2012:
An enormous interactive water play center with a bunch of slides, water cannons, and other features.