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Scare-you-silly or just cool-you-off...new water parks in 7 Western states.

Scare-you-silly or just cool-you-off . . . new water parks in 7 Western states In the old days, country kids spent summer months inner-tubing on canals, creating mud slides, or plunging Tarzan-like into neighborhood ponds and creeks. Tots at home cooled off in sprinkles. And folks lucky enough to live near the beach gamboled at the water's edge or lolled out in the ocean's lap.

Today, a host of new high-tech water parks have brought together many of these nature-inspired delights and added some touches of their own. In addition to 1/4-mile-long canal rides, waterfalls to stand under, and splashy frothing slides, you can find such treats as enormous pools that churn you in man-made surf like a rag in a washing machine.

The biggest, most varied ones are in Southern California and Nevada, but you can also keep busy for a day or more at parks in Arizona, northern California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Washington.

This article is not about water-slide parks--the West has more than a hundred of those. But all parks on our list do give pride of place to water slides--some gentle, one so steep that riding it is like free-falling from a seven-story building.

Every park we list also has either a water activity center with a variety of amusements, or a wave-action pool. Such pools have huge turbo-powered fans or giant paddles that generate fresh-water breakers big enough for bodysurfing or, at Palm Springs, even board surfing. They also churn the water in varying patterns, realistically duplicating the roiling ocean.

Sweltering on your cross-country trip? Cool

off at a water park

Whether you live near one or merely want to escape a hot car during your vacation, these do-it-yourself amusement parks of the '80s are ready for you.

Some let you come and go during the day with no extra charge. All sell food and soft drinks. Some parks let you bring in a picnic lunch, some don't; none allows glass containers of any kind. You can bring your own towels, of course, and at some parks you can bring your own inflatables. All the parks rent towels, body boards, inner tubes, and lockers.

Parks that don't have sandy beaches have grass areas (sometimes artificial) where you can enjoy both sun and shade. Some, like Palm Springs' Oasis, have shaded 10-by 10-foot cabanas with telephones and hostess service for an extra fee. And most have shops where you can buy a swimsuit if you forget yours.

The parks are staffed with trained lifguards. Still, accidents can happen, so keep your own eyes on your children until you're convinced that they can cope with the rides. (Surprisingly, not all parks carry liability insurance; call to inquire.)

All offer group admission rates. Many have special discounts for late-day entry and for parents who accompany their children but won't be entering the water.

Unless noted, hours are 10 or 11 A.M. to late evening, daily from late May or June through Labor Day. you can enjoy both sun and shade. Some, like Palm Springs' Oasis, have shaded 10-by 10-foot cabanas with telephones and hostess service for an extra fee. And most have shops where you can buy a swimsuit if you forget yours.

The parks are staffed with trained lifeguards. Still, accidents can happen, so keep your own eyes on your children until you're convinced that they can cope with the rides. (Surprisingly, not all parks carry liability insurance; call to inquire.)

All offer group admission rates. Many have special discounts for late-day entry and for parents who accompany their children but won't be entering the water.

Unless noted, hours are 10 or 11 A.M. to late evening, daily from late May or June through Labor Day.

ARIZONA

Phoenix. A year old and covering 25 acres, Oasis Family Water Park, 15 miles northwest of downtown, has five kinds of rides, including twisting slides for inner tubes as well as water coasters (you climb up 3-1/2 stories before plunging down a steep slide on a plastic sled and hydroplaning across the splashdown pool at up to 25 mph). Also has a 1/2-acre wave-action pool. Open daily 9 to 8 in summer; call for spring and fall hours. Cost: $7.95 for ages 13 and older, $6.95 for ages 4 through 12. At 4243 W. Pinnacle Peak Road; (602) 266-5200.

Tempe. Big Surf, where man-made surf began, is a 20-acre park with a 2-1/2-acre wave lagoon for bodysurfing, rafting, and boogie-boarding. It has several slides. Open 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays, early April through Labor Day, then 11 to 5 weekends through September. Cost: $6 for ages 6 and older, $3 for ages 5 and under. At 1500 N. Hayden Road; (602) 947-7873.

Tucson. The Breakers, a two-year-old 20-acre water park just off I-10, boasts a wave-action pool more than an acre in size, water slides, and an air-conditioned restaurant. Summer only. Cost: $6.95 for anyone taller than 40 inches ($3 after 3 P.M.), shorter than that free, $1 seniors. At 8555 W. Tangerine Road; (602) 792-1821.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

San Jose. Raging Waters, a 16-acre park next to Lake Cunningham Regional Park (boating, fishing, windsurfing), has a dozen slides, a river run, four activity pools, and a 1/2-acre lake with its own palm-studded island. Open weekends only from Labor Day to October 5. Cost: $10.95 for ages 8 and older, $9.95 for ages 4 through 7 (subtract $5 after 4 P.M.). At Capitol Expressway and Tully Road; (408) 270-8000.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Irvine. Newest and perhaps most exotic of all these water parks is Wild Rivers at Lion Country in Orange County. The 20-acre park, on the lush tropical site of the defunct Lion Country Safari, is scheduled to open early in July, with more than 40 African-theme water rides and attractions. Almost half the rides are designed for the daring. These include Bombay Blasters, in which you plummet five stories in total darkness, traveling through a foam-lined tube filled with rushing water that gives you the feeling of slipping down a smooth moss-covered crevice. Explorers' Island offers children under 4 feet tall access to water cannons, animal slides, swings, and three or mats on the 1/4-mile Safari River Expedition, you'll float gently past waterfalls.

Open 10 to 9 daily through September 7, then 10 to 6 weekends and holidays from September 13 to October 12 and from mid-May to early June. Cost: $10.75 for ages 12 and older, $8.75 for ages 3 through 11, $5.50 for seniors. After 4 P.M. through September 7, twilight passes cost $6.75. Parking $2. At 8800 Irvine Center Drive; (714) 768-9453.

Palm Springs. New in April and covering 21 acres, Oasis stands out from the surrounding desert like a mirage, its deep blue canvas awnings visible for miles. Brief surfing sessions are given daily in a pool with 4-foot waves. You can free-fall down twin 390-foot fiberglass slides at speeds of up to 40 mph or enjoy twisting slides, an inner-tube river ride, and splash pools.

After Labor Day, open 10 to 7 weekends, 11 to 7 weekdays. Cost: $12.95 for ages 12 and older, $9.95 for ages 4 through 11, $11.95 for over 65 (after 5, $7.95 for all ages). At 1500 Gene Autry Trail; (619) 325-7873.

San Dimas (near Pomona). Raging Waters, a 44-acre park set in beautiful Frank G. Bonelli Regional County Park, is the largest water park west of the Mississippi, and its 1/4-mile man-made river is the longest in the country. On many of its 10 water slides, you wind among trees and travel through underground tunnels before spilling into a shallow pool below. The park also contains a wave pool and a large beach surrounding Adventure Lagoon, which has rope swings, lily pad walks, and waterfalls.

Open 10 to 9 through mid-September, then weekends only from mid-September to mid-October and mid-May to mid-June. Cost: $11.95 for anyone 48 inches or taller, $8.95 for children 42 to 48 inches, free for children under 42 inches. Parking $2. At 111 Via Verde; (714) 592-6453.

COLORADO

Federal Heights. Hyland Hills Water World, 15 minutes from downtown Denver, is the only city-owned water park in the U.S. and the only one with two wave-action pools--one with 5-1/2-foot surfing waves, the other with 3-1/2-foot ones. The 20-acre park, open since 1979, has a whitewater river ride in a canyon setting, 10 feature rides, and 16 other activities. Open 10 to 6 daily through Labor Day (10 to 8 Wednesdays). Cost: $8.95 for ages 13 and older, $7.95 for ages 4 through 12, free for ages under 4 and over 59. At Pecos Street and 88th Avenue, a mile west of I-25; (303) 427-7873.

IDAHO

Boise. Wild Waters, a 14-acre park open since 1983, offers fast, twisting slides, a whitewater rafting run, hot tubs, and an activity pool where children can fly through the air on the Cliffhanger, a trapeze they grab from a platform in order to swing out over the pool. Summer only. Cost: $8 for ages 12 and older, $6.50 for ages 4 through 11, free for ages 3 and under-seniors, and handicapped. The park is 1 block off I-84; take the Overland and Cole exit and drive south on S. Cole Road; (208) 322-1844.

NEVADA

Las Vegas. Tucked among the town's casinos, 26-acre Wet 'n Wild can scare you silly on Der Stuka, fastest and highest water slide in the world. The park also has a wave pool, a canal ride, and five other types of slides including Banzai Boggan--you slide on a plastic sled down a 45[deg.] slope and skip across the splashdown pool like a pebble across a lake. Children 3 through 9 will find a water playground with rope swings, a blimp, water cannons, and water 'copters--the ultimate in squirt guns. If you want to bring your own inflatables, you can fill them quickly with the park's air compressor.

Open 10 to 8 daily through August 22, 10 to 6 daily through September 7, then noon to 5 weekdays and 10 to 5 weekends through September 28. (Park reopens April 11.) Cost: $11.95 for ages 13 and older, $8.95 for ages 3 through 12. At 2600 Las Vegas Boulevard; (702) 734-0088.

UTAH

Draper (south of Salt Lake City). Super Sliders USA, a 17-acre park, boasts 12 slides (two with a radar timer to clock your speed), huge hot tub, a new activity pool. Open daily through Labor Day, then weekends through September 28. Cost: $6.50 for ages 12 and older, $5 for ages 4 to 11, free for ages under 4 and over l0. At 14295 S. State Street, about 2 miles east of I-15 via Draper-Riverton or Bluffdale exit; (801) 571-4081.

Salt Lake City. Raging Waters is a 17-acre park offering bodysurfing in an 18,000-square-foot wave pool, whitewater rafting through underground tunnels, and 17 slides. The activity pool and Little Dipper area for children won a national design award. Closed after Labor Day. Cost: $8.95 for ages 8 and older, $7.95 for ages 4 through 7, free for ages under 4 and over 60. Family discounts on Monday nights. At 1200 W. 1700 South; (801) 973-4020.

WASHINGTON

Federal Way (near Tacoma). Wild Waves Waterpark is run by the adjacent Enchanted Village family amusement park (entry fees are separate). Rides include twisting slides on which you hurtle through enclosed sections, lit by tracer lights, that make you feel bullet-fast. There are also an activity pool and a 24,000-square-foot wave pool. Open 10:30 to 7:30 daily, to 9 Friday and Saturday nights. Cost: $12.95 for ages 12 through 64, $10.95 for ages 3 through 11 and over 64. At 36201 Kit Corner Road S. (take exit 142B from I-5); (206) 838-9900.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Aug 1, 1986
Words:1985
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