Water parks are a surefire source of summer fun. But before you step foot in the amusement park’s splashy cousin, ask yourself: how much do you really know about these popular summertime play palaces? Though the parks—and the rides that compose them—haven’t been around for long (the first one opened its doors to the public in 1962), you’ll find a lot of crazy history and wacky facts hiding in the waterslides and lazy rivers of the world. In other words: if you’re among the 85 million people who spend time at a water park every year, you’ll want to bone up on these shocking facts before your next visit. And for more amusing tidbits, check out these 30 Shocking Facts about Amusement Parks.
Water Slides Are More Dangerous Than Rollercoasters
In 2014, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs collected data on injuries at amusement parks and water parks and found that visitors were more than twice as likely to get hurt on a water slide compared to a rollercoaster. Of the total reported incidents, water rides accounted for a staggering 40 percent (and this is even more shocking when you consider that water rides only make up 11 percent of all the attractions in New Jersey.)
The “Water Park Capital of the World” Isn’t Where You’d Expect
With more than twenty indoor and outdoor water parks, Wisconsin Dells is the self-proclaimed “water park capital of the world.” The city is home to Noah’s Ark, America’s largest water park, and Kalahari Water Park Resort, the country’s largest indoor water park. If you plan on taking a trip to Wisconsin Dells, you should first read up on the 20 Foods Doctors Always Avoid While Traveling.
In Japan, Tattoos Are Verboten
In Japan, tattoos are generally associated with criminals and organized crime, and as such, most Japanese water parks ban inked-up individuals from visiting. “As a general rule, people affiliated with mobsters or criminal organizations are not allowed to enter the premises,” the website of Tokyo Summerland, an immensely popular park in Japan, reads. “The same applies to people wearing tattoos.”
There’s an Abandoned Water Park in Disney
In 1976, Walt Disney World opened the doors to River Country, but they were soon closed for good in 2001. The water park faced many challenges during its short lifespan, including bacteria-infested water and outdated attractions. Instead of demolishing the park and reusing the space, Disney chose to simply board it up; today, it remains on the grounds of Disney World, slowly succumbing to the weeds and wildlife. Some guests have dared to sneak in and take videos, but those who are caught face permanent banishment from the park. Disney is full of fun facts, so don’t forget to check out these 20 Secrets Disney Employees Don’t Want You to Know.
Celebs Love Their Water Park Mansions
In 2010, Celine Dion and late husband Rene Angelil purchased a 10,000-square-foot home, but the house’s interior is nothing compared to the property it sits on. With the Florida house comes a personal waterslide, several pools, a private beach, and shaded pavilions. In 2017, The Canadian singer sold the water park wonderland for a jaw-dropping $27 million. And for more jaw-dropping star news, check out these 50 Crazy Celebrity Facts You Won’t Believe Are True.
The First Indoor Park Was Probably Built In Your Lifetime
Nowadays, you’ll find indoor water parks all over the world to enjoy year-round, but the first one wasn’t actually built until 1985. World Waterpark in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is housed inside the West Edmonton Mall, and remains the largest indoor water park in North America to this day.
Public Pools Are Breeding Grounds For Bacteria
Unfortunately, kids (and even some adults) haven’t quite grasped the concept that it’s not okay to use the public pool like a toilet—and their excretions make for a not-so-pleasant swimming experience. One study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that 58 percent of public pools contained E. coli bacteria, likely from fecal contamination. And Canadian scientists determined that one 220,000-galloon pool contained almost 20 gallons of urine. When you do go for a dip, rinse off beforehand to avoid being part of the problem—and this should go without saying, but don’t pee in the pool.
The World’s Tallest Water Slide Was Higher Than Most Buildings
On July 10, 2014, Schlitterbahn Kansas City opened the world’s tallest and fastest water slide. The ride was appropriately named Verruckt—the German word for crazy or insane—as it stood at 168 feet. For the record, that’s taller than the average New York building. From the get go, the record-setting ride faced its fair share of complications, and in 2016 the water slide faced its final blow when a 10-year-old rider suffered a fatal neck injury.
You Can Slide Through Shark-Infested Waters
At the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, guests have the opportunity to tube down a five-story waterslide that ends in a “leisurely pass” through shark-infested waters. But there’s no need to fret: The sharks are housed behind glass, so you will be completely protected as you gawk in awe. If you do visit the Bahamas, you should be more concerned about the tap water than a shark behind glass.
Image via YouTube
The World’s Longest Waterslide Is Inflatable
In 2015, the Guinness World Records certified an inflatable waterslide in Vernon, New Jersey, as the world’s longest. The unnamed slide measures 1,975 feet long, or over one-third of a mile. Each of the waterslide’s 20 sections weigh 600 pounds, and the gigantic ride takes over two hours to inflate. Unfortunately, the waterslide is not open to the public, but people can enjoy these 20 Crazy Summer Camps That Actually Exist.
Image via YouTube
The State with the Most Water Parks Per Capita Is…
Of all the 50 states, South Dakota has the most water parks per million people with 16.4. The state might only have 14 water parks (which is nothing compared to Florida’s 103), but South Dakota only has a population of a little over 853,000 people total according to data from 2014.
While Hawaii (!) Has Just One
You would think a state living in perpetual summertime would be overloaded with water parks, but Hawaii is home to just one. Located on Oahu, Wet’n’Wild Hawaii originally opened in 1999 under the name Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and was sold to Australian company Village Roadshow Limited in 2008. Hawaii doesn’t need an abundance of water parks when it’s home to some of the 50 Destinations So Magical You Won’t Believe They’re in the U.S.
The World’s Largest Pool is 14 Times Larger Than Gillette Stadium’s Field
The saltwater pool at San Alfonso del Mar resort in Chile is not your average swimming hole. With a total area of 19.77 acres—almost 15 football fields—the pool holds the world record for largest swimming pool by area. When you want to take a dip, make sure to use these 15 Hacks to Apply Your Sunscreen More Easily.
There Was Once a Slide So Risky That It Closed Immediately
New Jersey’s Action Park was infamous in the late 20th century for being unsafe—the park once bragged about being responsible for “only six deaths,” as if that were an accomplishment—but perhaps nothing at the park was more ill-conceived than the Cannonball Loop. The ride, as you might have guessed, was a gravity-defying waterslide with a loopty loop. Though there is much folklore surrounding the ride, it is said that the Loop was open for just one month during the summer of 1985 before the New jersey Carnival Amusement Ride safety Advisory Board shut it down.
One former employee told Weird NJ that the ride was “the brainchild of some Swiss guy [the park] imported on a weeklong visa.” One young soul who was brave enough to ride the Loop as a child said, “Rather than sticking to the slide on the backend of the loop, I actually fell to the bottom. I smacked the back of my head on the slide and was nearly knocked unconscious.”
The Busiest Water Park Attracts More People Than Live in Phoenix
In 2013, Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando, Florida, was the United States’ busiest water park with 2.1 million visitors.
The World’s Largest Wave Pool Could Fill An Olympic-Sized Pool
Four times over. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is home to the world’s largest wave pool. Fun fact: The pool requires 2.75 million gallons of water to be completely filled. For context: an Olympic-sized pool is 660,000 gallons.
Image via Flickr
There’s a Water Park For People With Disabilities
Water parks are difficult to navigate for people with disabilities, so in 2017, Gordon Hartman opened Morgan’s Inspiration Island with accessibility in mind. Not only does the park offer an accessible river boat ride and splash pads, but also anyone with a disability can enter the park gratis and is given a waterproof wheelchair to use. “Our goal is to provide a great guest experience in an inclusive, safe, comfortable, not-overly-crowded environment,” Hartman told Mashable.
Image via Instagram
Several Cruises Now House Water Parks Onboard
Cruise ships are constantly looking for crazy new ways to attract customers, and one of the many ways they continue to do this is with water parks on the ships. Take Carnival Cruise Line, for instance: Every single Carnival ship features at least one waterslide, and more than half have a WaterWorks aqua park with side-by-side racing slides and other fun features.
Image via Flickr
The Waterslide Was Invented in the Midwest
The idea for the waterslide was conceived in Minnesota, of all places. Faribault resident Herbert Sellner came up with the idea in 1923 when he built a large wooden slide that emptied out onto the water. Known as the Water-Toboggan Slide, Sellner’s invention was a quick hit, and he later went on to invent other amusement park favorites like the Tilt-A-Whirl in 1926.
Image via Flickr
You Can Rent an AirBnB at a Water Park
It sounds too good to be true, but for just $98 per night, you can rent a 2-bedroom condo at Fantasy World Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. The resort features pools, jacuzzis, a lazy river, waterslides, an arcade, and more—plus, the condo is just minutes away from Disney World. And for more incredible lodging options, check out these 15 Jaw-Dropping AirBnBs from Around the World That Won’t Break the Bank.
There Are Water Roller Coasters
The world’s first water coaster—basically a rollercoaster that gets you soaking wet—was created by Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort in New Braunfels, Texas. According to the resort’s website, the aqua coaster “shoots you uphill, downhill, and everything else a regular coaster does, but in water.”
Image via Flickr
There’s a “Father of the Water Park”
In 2004, the World Waterpark Association (WWA) honored one man with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a proclamation declaring him “Father of the Waterpark.” That man was George Millay: founder of SeaWorld and Wet n’ Wild water parks. As his biographer wrote, Millay was “a man who turned water into gold—a modern-day Poseidon with the creativity, stamina, and smarts to conceive recreational opportunities centered on the sea and oceans.” And for more on life under the sea, here’s 30 Facts About the World’s Oceans That Will Blow Your Mind.
You Can Swim with Stingrays
Several water parks allow guests to pet stingrays, but one resort in San Antonio, Texas, takes it a step further and offers guests the chance to swim with them. At Aquatica, you can touch, feed, and just hang out with the Cownose stingrays inside their tank. And don’t worry about upsetting the marine creatures—researchers found that they “don’t get anything negative” out of the human interactions.
There Are Campus Water Parks
Students at Texas Tech enjoy access to a giant water park facility equip with a 25-person hot tub, a wet deck, a diving well with a water slide, and a 64-foot-long lazy river. The water complex set the college back $8.4 million, but it certainly helps with recruitment efforts.
Image via YouTube
The First Pirate Ship Ride Was On Land
It might defeat the purpose of the ride entirely, but the original pirate ship ride was actually landlocked. Created in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the 1890s, the ride was ironically called the Ocean Wave, and it sat at a circus where people could climb aboard and learn what being on the ocean was like.
Not All Water Parks Waste Water
They get a bad reputation for being water wasters, but water parks are making a conscious effort to conserve water. Take Schlitterbahn Park in Texas: it filters and reuses 97 percent of the 3.5 million gallons required to run the park, and the other three percent are lost to evaporation.
Water Park Drains Are Disgusting
“We’ve pulled out innumerable hair and fake nails,” one Reddit user who worked at a water park wrote about the things he’s seen in the drain. “Lots of little dead animals—voles, mice, birds, the like. Bandaids, dirty swim diapers, glass, trash of all sorts. Just, everything. People are disgusting.” Ew.
The First Ever Water Park Was Originally Built For Private Use
In the 1950s, local businessman Bob Byers built Lake Dolores Waterpark in Southern California for his extended family to enjoy. Named after his wife, the park originally featured little more than a man-made lake and a campground; however, when Byers decided to open the park to the public in 1962, he added water slides, high dives, raft rides, and more. In 1990, Byers sold the park and it was run under the name Rock-a-Hoola and later Discovery Waterpark until its closing in 2004.
Image via Flickr
A Titanic-Themed Ride is On the Horizon
In 2015, Twentieth Century Fox announced plans to build a theme park in Dubai based on some of their most iconic TV shows and films, Titanic included. “We are working on creating an immersive experience that includes motion theater simulators and will allow you to experience what it was like to be on the Titanic in an exciting way,” president of Fox Consumer Products Jeffrey Godsick told BuzzFeed. The project is currently on hold, but hopefully construction will be restarted sometime soon. And for more Titanic trivia, you’ll want to read about the 20 Facts Titanic Gets Wrong.
The Orcas at SeaWorld Wear Sunscreen
Orcas’ skin is very sensitive to the sun. Usually, these creatures live so far below the ocean’s surface that the UV rays don’t affect them, but at SeaWorld, they spend most of their time in shallow water and thusly require black zinc oxide to protect their skin. Humans are also susceptible to sun damage, which is why you should use these 15 Hacks to Apply Your Sunscreen More Easily.
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