News Column

Slide and go seek

June 6, 2014

By Craig T. Neises, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

June 06--Huck's Harbor in Burlington isn't the only water park in the land by any means.

But when price and proximity are considerations, in addition to the good times to be had, the collection of water slides and other features tucked up next to the Pzazz hotel are tough to beat.

For people willing to invest their days off and summertime travel budgets in hitting the road to seek other venues for wet and wild fun, though, Iowa and other Midwestern states have plenty more to offer -- from the Waterpark Capital of the World in Wisconsin, to the southern Indiana town where Christmas is a year-round way of life, and to the Sunflower State, site of what the Guinness Book of World Records has declared to be the world's tallest water slide.

A complete listing of water parks would fill a book, so here are some of Iowa and the Midwest's biggest and best.

Noah's Ark,Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Billing itself as America's largest outdoor water park, Noah's Ark is the biggest of the more than 30 indoor and outdoor water parks in the Dells. It features the Time Warp, described as the world's largest bowl ride; a quarter-mile-long water coaster, a speed slide with a vertical loop, numerous other tube, body and raft slides, a pair of wave pools, children's area, lazy and not-so-lazy rivers, flume ride, surf pool, bumper boats and a 4-D theater.

Noah's Ark was included in USA Today's list of best Midwest water parks, made the Top 10 on the travel website, ranked third in a USA Today readers' choice poll and was included in Forbes magazine's list of coolest water parks.

Travel time: 4.5 hours

Distance from Burlington: 264 miles via Dubuque, Dodgeville, Wis. and Baraboo, Wis.

Hours: Open daily at 10 a.m., closing time varies, through Sept. 1.

Admission: $33 for adults, $29 for youth.

Nearby: Circus World in Baraboo, Wis.; Tommy Bartlett Show; boat tours. More at

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4.5 of 5; Rank -- 13th of 48 attractions in Wisconsin Dells.


Hurricane Harbor, Gurnee, Ill.

Chicago may offer great views of Lake Michigan, but the only one of the Great Lakes to lay completely inside United States territory doesn't have the Atomic Slide Complex.

For that, you'll need to head about 50 miles north of the Windy City and visit Hurricane Harbor, the water park inside Six Flags Great America. The Atomic Slide Complex includes two bowl slides, two speed slides and two tube slides. The park also features four free-fall slides, four more tube slides, a funnel slide, lazy river, surf rider, children's play area, mat racers, a wave pool and more.

Travel time: 4 hours

Distance from Burlington: 267 miles via Galesburg, Ill., Chicago.

Hours: Vary daily. Season closes Sept. 1.

Admission: $65 for adults; $45 for 48 inches and shorter; 2 and younger free for Six Flags. Add $5 for the water park. Online discounts available.

Nearby: Six Flags Great America amusement park.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4 of 5; Rank -- 1 (with the amusement park) of 9 attractions in Gurnee, Ill.


Hurricane Harbor, Eureka, Mo.

It may be a Cubs or Cardinals decision for some in choosing between the Six Flags water parks near Chicago and the one near St. Louis. Others might pick the Eureka, Mo., water park because it is closer and cheaper.

The water park features a raft slide, funnel slide, three speed slides and the horizonal looping slides of the Bonzai Pipeline, which begin with falling through a trap door to begin a six-story fall. Other features include a lazy river, mat racer, children's area and wave pool.

Travel time: 3.5 hours

Distance from Burlington: 209 miles via Keokuk, Hannibal, Mo.

Hours: Open daily at 10:30 a.m., closing varies. Season ends Sept. 1.

Admission: $59 for adults; $44 for people 48 inches and shorter; 2 and younger are free. Includes Six Flags amusement park admission. Online discounts available.

Nearby: Six Flags St. Louis theme park.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4 of 5; Rank -- 5th (with the amusement park) of 11 attractions in Eureka, Mo.


White Water Park, Branson, Mo.

Whether water slides and wave pools or Vegas-style entertainment nestled amid the Ozark Mountains is your thing, then Branson, Mo., is the place to go.

The water park features the Kapau Plummet, a looping free-fall slide with trapdoor entry, which is new this year. Other attractions include raft, speed and tube slides, a lazy river, children's area, mat racers and wave pool. Also new this year are Friday night movies and Saturday fireworks nights, both viewable from tubes in the wave pool.

White Water Park was included in Travel Channel and Top 10 lists, and ranked ninth in a USA Today reader's choice poll.

Travel time: 7 hours

Distance from Burlington: 443 miles via Keokuk, Hannibal, Mo., Kirkwood, Mo., and Springfield, Mo.

Hours: Open daily at 10 a.m., closing varies. Closed most weekdays starting Aug. 11, season ends Sept. 7.

Admission: $40 for ages 12 to 61; $34 for ages 4 to 11; $29 for ages 62 and up; ages 3 and younger, free.

Nearby: Silver Dollar City amusement park, Branson Belle dinner cruises (additional admission charges apply). More at

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4 of 5; Rank -- 92nd of 212 attractions in Branson, Mo.


Oceans of Fun, Kansas City, Mo.

At Oceans of Fun, guests will enjoy the collection of tube, speed, free-fall, raft and body slides, as well as children's areas, lazy river, flume ride, adults-only heated pool with swim-up bar and canoeing and kayaking on a 5-acre lake.

Travel time: 4.5 hours

Distance from Burlington: 291 miles via Keokuk, Hannibal, Mo.Cameron, Mo.

Hours: Open 10:30 a.m. daily, closing varies

Admission: $52 for adults; $32 for ages 62 and older or those shorter than 48 inches. Online discounts available.

Nearby: Worlds of Fun amusement park.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 3.5 of 5; Rank -- 39th (with the amusement park) of 98 attractions in Kansas City, Mo.


Schlitterbahn Water Park, Kansas City, Kan.

The main attraction for 2014 at this Kansas water park, a slide named using the German word for insane, saw its opening delayed due to some technical difficulties in testing. The Verruckt Mega-Blaster, which stands 168 feet, 7 inches tall, now is set for a June 29 opening.

Riders climb into a four-person raft for the almost 168-foot drop, which is followed by a rise and other 50-foot drop.

The park also features two mat slides, four tube slides and a water coaster, a surf ride, three rivers (one lazy, one wavy and the other a raging rapids), an adults-only heated pool, beaches, children's area and, for an extra charge, a zip line.

Also new this year at the park is a low-speed ride dubbed Fun Cats. For an additional fee, riders take to small catamarans that follow a track through waterways around the park.

Schlitterbahn's Kansas City site made the Travel Channel's list of top U.S. water parks.

Travel time: 4.75 hours

Distance from Burlington: 312 miles via Keokuk, Hannibal, Mo.Cameron, Mo., Kansas City, Mo.

Hours: Vary daily, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.June 13 to Aug. 9. Short schedule begins Aug. 17. Season ends Sept. 1

Admission: $42 for adults; $30 for ages 3 to 11 and 55 and older; ages 2 and younger are free. Online discounts are available.

Nearby: Kansas Speedway; T-Bones minor league baseball; Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 3.5 of 5; Rank -- 9th of 17 attractions in Kansas City, Kan.


Splashin Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

In the adjacent theme park, holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween are the stock-in-trade. But at Splashin Safari, the tropics come to southern Indiana.

Sliding in the dark is a theme at the park, where seven tube slides feature enclosed, pitch-dark runs. There also are funnel, bowl and family raft slides, a pitch-dark family raft ride and the world's two longest water coasters. Other features include two wave pools, a lazy river and a mat racer.

Splashin Safari made the Travel Channel, Trip Advisor and USA Today readers' choice Top 10 lists.

Travel time: 6.5 hours

Distance from Burlington: 414 miles via St. Louis, Mo., Mount Vernon, Ill.

Hours: Varied daily, closed except weekends after Aug. 13 through Labor Day. Last day is Sept. 13.

Admission: $45 for adults; $37 for those 54 inches and shorter or ages 60 and older. Ages 2 and younger are free. Online discounts available.

Nearby: Holiday World Theme Park.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4.5 of 5; Rank -- 1st (with the amusement park) of 16 attractions in Santa Claus, Ind.


Adventure Bay, Altoona

At the far end of the Burlington-to-Des Moines expressway, and a jog north along U.S. 65 lies Iowa's only major theme park, which added a water park in 2008.

Known as Adventure Bay, the water park at Adventureland offers a pair of speeds slides, racing slides, a funnel slide and two tube slides, children's play areas including Kokomo Cove, which was the park's opening feature, a lazy river and Breaker Beach, which opened in 2012 as Iowa's largest wave pool.

Adventure Bay was included in Trip Advisor's Top 10 water parks list.

Travel time: 2.5 hours

Distance from Burlington: 165 miles via Ottumwa, Pella

Hours: Open daily at 10 a.m. through Aug. 17, then weekends through Sept. 1. Closing time varies.

Admission: $40 for ages 10 and older; $35 for ages 4 to 9 and 65 and older; ages 3 and younger are free.

Nearby: Adventureland Park

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4 of 5; Rank -- 10th (with the amusement park) of 41 attractions in Des Moines.


Lost Island Water Park, Waterloo

The nearest of the big-time water parks lies on the outskirts of Iowa's sixth-biggest city. Featuring Wailua Kapua, Iowa's only water coaster, Lost Island also includes a mat racer, three tube slides, a family raft slide, funnel and bowl slides, speed slide, two body slides, children's areas, wave pool, lazy river and activity pool.

Travel time: 2.5 hours

Distance from Burlington: 155 miles via Mount Pleasant, Cedar Rapids

Hours: Open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily through Aug. 17, then closing after the weekend of Aug. 23 and 24.

Admission: Adults are $26.75; those 48 inches are shorter are $22.75, with online discounts available. Ages 3 and younger are free.

Nearby: Outside the water park are a video arcade, go-karts, miniature golf and zipline.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 4.5 of 5; Rank -- 1st of 20 attractions in Waterloo.


Huck's Harbor, Burlington

Close to home and easy on the pocketbook, Huck's Harbor features four tube slides, including a bowl slide, two speed slides, a lazy river, swimming pool and children's play area. New in 2014 is an indoor water feature, including a swimming pool, wading pool, lazy river and hot tub.

Travel time: Practically none.

Distance from Burlington: A few blocks or just a few miles.

Hours: Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, closing for the season Sept. 1.

Admission: All ages are $7 Monday through Thursday and $12 Friday through Sunday.

Nearby: In FunCity, find fun in the Arcadium, Ballocity, Skytrail, Kingpins, Zoom and Lazertown.

TripAdvisor: Reviews -- 3.5 of 5; Rank -- 2nd of 9 attractions in Burlington. (Snake Alley was ranked No. 1.)



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Source: Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA)

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