• Beat the summer heat and splash down at Aquatica

    By: Shelley Caran/OntheGoinMCO.com


    Aquatica, a water park owned and operated by SeaWorld Orlando, is an amazing way to spend a hot day in Orlando.

    Themed to the South Pacific, this water park, which opened in 2008, is home to seven water slides, two lazy rivers, side-by-side wave pools, two children’s water play areas, animal habitats and conservation stations, as well as several restaurants and shops. With such a wide variety of activities available at Aquatica, there is a little something for everyone.

    Dolphin Plunge is an enclosed slide that passes through a pool with a pod of Commerson’s Dolphins and is Aquatica’s signature attraction. Riders must be 48” tall and less than 300 pounds. While lines for this ride can be long, there are 2 tubes which help keep the line moving at a steady pace. The slide is extremely smooth, and while it is hard to see the dolphins from the tube it is still a really fun experience. If you find the ride to be intimidating, you still have 2 ways to interact with the Commerson’s Dolphins with a viewing area and at several times during the day you can talk with Animal Specialists about them.

    Whanu Way is a quadruple slide towers that offers unique raft rides for single or double riders. Guests must be 48” tall to ride without a life vest.  I rode both alone and with a friend and it is a lot of fun! One nice part of the design of this tower is that a large part of the line is completely shaded which is really friendly on your feet.

    Omaka Rocka is the newest set of slides at Aquatica, and is a single rider raft slide that features high speed tubes and half pipe funnels with some waterfalls thrown in for fun. Riders must be 48” tall and less than 250 pounds. While it is a really fast slide, the slide itself is pretty long so you feel like your wait was well worth the time.

    Taumata Racers is an eight lane racing slide, where riders lay on mats head first going down a very steep hill to see who will win. A fun detail of the Racers is that each lane has its own clock, which can help settle any dispute of who won.

    Walhalla Wave and Hoo Roo Run are family raft rides that require riders to be 42” tall to ride, and have a center lift tube which is easy for families since you don’t have to worry about lugging a large tube up stairs while watching the kids. Walhalla Wave is six stories tall and the ride zooms through twists, turns, and tunnels. While Hoo Roo Run is an EXREMELY fast triple dip slide for the more adventurous family.

    And finally, Tassie’s Twisters is a funnel raft ride with a fun twist. To get to the entrance of the ride, you first have to take a spin on Loggerhead Lane, one of the two lazy rivers, before you enter the super fast tubes which lead to a large bowl that empty back into Loggerhead Lane. This was a really, really fun slide!

    A really fun feature for this Lazy River loving gal is that Aquatica offers two very different Lazy Rivers for guests. In Loggerhead Lane, you will find more of a traditional Lazy River with a twist in that you can choose between a viewing the Fish Grotto or the Commerson’s Dolphins. While Roa’s Rapids is a Not-So-Lazy River that is really long and has powerful jets that move you through the river. Our first time around Roa’s Rapids we chose not to grab life vests since we are all strong swimmers, but we fixed that on our second trip around and it was so much better not having to worry about floating.

    Aquatica is home to the only side-by-side wave pools located on a large sandy beach with tons of great seating areas and umbrellas. Big Surf Shores is where the surf can be low or high, while Cutback Cove has constant rolling waves which are a lot of fun for the smaller members of your party.

    And for the kids in your family there are two great play areas! Kata Kookaburra Cove is a play area located near the wave pools and beach that is chocked full of slides, sprays, and water obstacles for kids to play in and on for hours! Walkabout Water is closely located and is home to a gigantic multi-level water play areas with dump buckets, slides, and water sprays. What is really nice about these areas is that they are almost over-staffed with Aquatica staff with lot of areas for parents to supervise and stay cool.

    With Aquatica being owned by SeaWorld Orlando, there are several Animal Habitats and Conservation Stations that allow you to interact with Animal Specialists and learn while you are having fun!

    There are a wide variety of food and bar options at Aquatica, but we chose to get all-day wristbands for the Banana Beach Cookout where we got to eat, drink, and snack all day. It was great to be able to pop in and grab a drink or slice of pizza! And the price was such a great deal, with an all day wristband for adults $15.99 and children $9.99 and there is an additional 10% discount available for annual passholders.

    If you are considering bringing food into the park there are pretty strict rules as to what you can and cannot bring into the park for meals. If you are planning on doing more than just snacks, there is a limited number of picnic coolers available just outside of the park. It is important to know that for the safety of the animals at Aquatica, that plastic straws (including those for juice boxes) and plastic lids are not allowed in the park. The Park Information Page (http://www.aquaticabyseaworld.com/ParkInfo.aspx) has a lot of great information about what can be brought into Aquatica.

    One of the most important things to consider when visiting Aquatica is getting a prime location of seats for the day. While there are a ton of areas in and around the various slides and restaurants, we always try to arrive as close as we can to find a longer more traditional lounge seat on the large beach that is under one of the many large umbrellas. The good news is that there are tons of umbrellas and seats like this on the beach, so there isn’t a mad dash as there sometimes can be at the Disney waterparks. Also, there are several different sizes of lockers for your more valuable possessions so you can roam without worry. If you are looking for a more personalized experience at Aquatica, there are several levels of private cabanas (http://commerce.4adventure.com/estore/scripts/skins/apo/Cabanas.aspx) and rental chair locations throughout the park. If you are interested in any of the cabanas, it is a good idea to contact Aquatica before you arrive to check on availability.

    Another convenient service that Aquatica offers is a spending account, which allows you to put your credit card on file so you do not have to carry around your wallet. It is important to know that they do put a hold on your credit card when you sign up, so it’s a good idea to take that into consideration.

    When you visit Aquatica it is important to really think about what you will need for a day at the park, because it’s always good to come prepared! Above and beyond the usual things you will need such as towels, sunscreen, and small snacks, we always bring a variety of Ziploc bags for wallets & phones, something to read for sunbathers, and small water-friendly toys for moments where the little ones need a break. And on the other hand, we make sure that we don’t bring in anything more than what we need since there is a cost for renting lockers if you would rather not leave items on your chair.

    One day Aquatica tickets are $49.99 for adults and $44.99 for children ages 3-9, and Florida Residents can purchase weekday passes for $49.99 for adults and children. There are also single park, multiple park,  length of stay, and annual passes which have various benefits which can be found online (www.aquaticabyseaworld.com).

    We absolutely love visiting Aquatica and could not recommend it highly enough for both visitors to Orlando and residents. It is one of our favorite places to spend the day together as a family!

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelley Caran moved to Celebration, Florida a little over a year ago from Virginia, but has had a passion for Disney World and SeaWorld since her first visit in 1986.  She is a wife and stay-at-home Mom, who never seems to stay at home! She loves to take pictures, talk about her adventures, and what is important to know as you are on the go in the Orlando and Tampa attractions.  In addition to her own site, On the Go in MCO (www.onthegoinmco.com) she is a contributor for Touring Plans (www.touringplans.com).