Remember when a trip to a water park meant climbing a ladder to the top of the slide and slowly gliding down to a pool below?

It's not so simple anymore.

The growing world of water parks is all about bigger, better and more exciting rides. Attendance at the world's top 20 venues was up 3 percent to 27.6 million last year, according to the World Waterpark Association.

“Globally, the industry is very stable and experiencing comfortable growth in most regions around the world," says Aleatha Ezra, director of the park member development. “In terms of finding a park nearby, there's definitely a lot of options for people to find all around the world."

From their origins in the United States in the 1940s and '50s, water parks have grown both in numbers and in complexity. There are more than 1,200 parks in the United States and about 720 more around the world.

“Today's designers can create whatever type of attraction they can imagine," Ezra says. Trends include rides that can go up as well as down; oscillating and “bowl" rides; attractions appealing to several generations; themed activities; and rides that simulate video games.

Hold on. “Bowl" rides?

“Bowl rides are like giant funnels," Ezra explains. “You slide down a chute or tube into the top of the funnel and swish around the inside before dropping down the middle into a splash pool or run-out."

Wet and wild, indeed.

Here are a handful of top water attractions around the world. Since it's currently summer in half the world, why not get out and explore some splish-splashy fun?



water slide China
The Tornado Slide swooshes you into its giant funnel at Chimelong Water Park in China.


1. Chimelong Water Park in Guangzhou, China

This is the world's No. 1 water park for attendance, with nearly 2.3 million guests in 2014. Asia, in general, has seen an explosion in recreational activity venues like water parks, with the growth of middle-class discretionary income and time.

Chimelong calls itself the world's largest and most advanced water park, covering some 450 acres. Highlights include:

  • The Tornado slide, winner of the International Tourism Industry's Gold Award for Best New Attraction. Six stories high, it draws thrill-seekers into a super-size horn, which amplifies the screams. How scary is it? No one over 65 allowed.
  • The Boomerango is a giant half-pipe that sloshes you up and down.
  • And Master Blaster tries to offer the sensation of a rollercoaster on water.


Florida water park
Kids love the surf pool at Typhoon Lagoon in Florida.


2. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and 3. Blizzard Beach in Orlando, Florida

These two sister attractions rank No. 2 and No. 3 worldwide for visitors. In keeping with Disney tradition, each has a theme.

Typhoon Lagoon centers around a shrimp boat called Miss Tilly on Mount Mayday, which erupts a 50-foot geyser every half an hour. Blizzard Beach imagines something of a ski resort in the Sunshine State that has “melted into a watery wonderland."

The rides follow through on the themes. At Typhoon Lagoon, get wet with Humunga Kowabunga, Shark Reef and Gangplank Falls. At Blizzard Beach, try the Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher and Ski Patrol Training Camp.



Dubai water park
A group plunges down a water slide at Aquaventure in Dubai.

4. Aquaventure Waterpark in Dubai, U.A.E.

They don't do anything small and quaint in Dubai, of course, so why should this water park in super-plush Atlantis, The Palms resort be any different? It lays claim to being the No. 1 water park in the Middle East and Europe, with fan-favorite Leap of Faith plunging you into a shark tank, no less.

  • There's a play area, Splashers, for younger kids.
  • Slides at the new Tower of Poseidon;
  • And beachfront, lay rivers, rapids and tropical settings.

5. Wet'n'Wild in Gold Coast, Australia

It might be winter Down Under right now. But Wet'n'Wild, near Brisbane, is open every day of the year except Anzac Day (a national holiday) and Christmas Day.

The Blackhole sends you spiraling down enclosed, dark tubes. Kamikaze goes for something like a zero-gravity effect. And if triple 360-degree coils of a massive snake sound like good, wet fun, try the Constrictor.

6. Europa Park, Rust in Germany

Celebrate Europa Park's 40th anniversary with a drink and a bite at the Coca-Cola SportsBar – Arena of Football. It's just one of many dining options, of course, at one of TripAdvisor's top-ranked amusement parks.

Europa Park is a broader than just wet stuff -- sort of a pan-European version of Disney. Slippery attractions include Water Roller Coaster Poseidon; the Water Playground; the Swing, Twist and Splash show; and the Atlantica SuperSplash.

7. World Waterpark in Edmonton, Canada

How's this for a new twist? Indoor water parks – and World Waterpark has the world's largest indoor wave pool, slides and other features.

The Hurricane puts you inside a ball within an inflatable ball that contains water and rotates while you run or slide in the water. Sound crazy? It's the first of its kind in Canada.