By Georgina Cruz
9:45 AM EDT, May 13, 2013
Not only does Florida have spectacular coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico but the state also has plenty of other opportunities for relaxing, refreshing, renewing H2O fun -- at many water parks around the state.
Here's a selection of water parks at a variety of Florida destinations where you can cool off during your next trip. Tickets to most of the parks include just admission; others, like Discovery Cove, include food and beverages as well. Always check with the park to see if there are packages and specials, such as Florida Residents discounts, available when you plan to visit. Some parks are open year-round, others just for spring and summer, so check hours of operation at each park's Web site before plunging into trip plans.
Winter Haven --- Legoland Florida Water Park is perfect for visitors of all ages, whether they're looking to relax in the 1,000-foot-long Build-a-Raft River or race down one of the slides. Although the Twin Chasers and Splash Out slides require riders to be at least 48 inches tall, all the tiny tots are welcome to splash around in the Lego Wave Pool, cause a commotion in the Joker Soaker or explore the Duplo Splash Safari. Admission to the Legoland Water Park requires visitors to upgrade their Legoland tickets to the combo package at $15 for adults, children and seniors and $3 per toddler. Visit www.Florida.Legoland.com Check out photos of the Legoland Water Park
Daytona Beach -- The Daytona Lagoon Water Park has more than one million gallons of H2O running through it. Among the highlights are thrilling experiences like Blackbeard's Revenge with a 62-foot tower and a slide that you ride on a tube through a winding, dark tunnel. Other attractions include a lazy river tube ride, 500,000-gallon wave pool, and Castaway Bay with four slides, climbing nets, nozzles, and a water-dumping bucket to delight the kids. Tickets are $29.99 for adults; $22.99 for Florida residents, $19.99 for juniors (under 42-inches tall), $11.99 matinee (4 p.m till close), $9.99 for seniors/spectators, and children under 3 are free. Visit www.daytonalagoon.com.
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Jacksonville Beach -- Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Water Park offers a three-story Pirate Play Village with a dozen slides, multiple nozzles, and waterfalls; three thrill rides including a Hydro Half Pipe (like a skater's half pipe, but wet) with a 35-foot vertical drop; a lazy river tube ride; a 500,000-gallon wave pool with three-four-foot waves and more. Admission is $27.99 for adults; $22.99 for children under 42-inches tall, and children under 3 are free. The park has additional locations in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Visit www.adventurelanding.com.
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Orlando -- Aquatica -- This park by Sea World has 59 acres across the street from Sea World Orlando. Themed to the South Seas, it has macaws and other exotic birds, Commerson's dolphins and tropical fish, and it offers water, water everywhere--3.3 million gallons of it in six lagoons, rivers with waterfalls, geysers and more, including two wave pools. To "connect visitors to the sea," according to Joe Couceiro, vice president of marketing, the park also has a beach measuring more than 83,000 square feet, plus a 15,000 square foot pool with a fort with slides and water cannons. The park's centerpiece is an adventure that catapults visitors through 300 feet of clear tubes to a lagoon filled with black and white Commerson's dolphins. Tickets are $55 (adults) and $50 (children ages 3-9). Florida and Georgia residents tickets are $45 (online only). Visit www.AquaticaBySeaWorld.com.
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Orlando -- Blizzard Beach -- This Walt Disney World water park is built around a "legend" --there was a freak snow storm in Florida and the locals, thinking that Florida's climate had changed permanently, built a ski center. But soon temperatures started to rise and sure enough, the snow melted. The result was a water park with fun attractions. Among the "musts" for the intrepid is Summit Plummet where visitors can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. Other Blizzard Beach pastimes include a beach, a tube ride and a variety of slides --17 in all. Tickets are $52 for adults, $44 for children (ages 3-9). Visit www.disneyworld.com.
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Orlando -- Discovery Cove -- Those who always dreamed of swimming with a dolphin can do so here. This park, across the street from Sea World Orlando, offers an encounter during with participants can pet this marine creature, learn how to give signals to the dolphin, and swim with it. Other attractions include a lagoon with rays that visitors can walk into and pet them, a tropical reef for snorkeling, a tropical creek and an aviary where visitors can feed exotic birds. Tickets also include 14 days unlimited admission to an additional park. Tickets cost from $149 without the dolphin encounter; from $219 with it. Prices change seasonally. Visit www.DiscoveryCove.com.
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Orlando -- Typhoon Lagoon -- The biggest attraction at this Walt Disney World water park is Crush 'N' Gusher, a water roller coaster that incorporates the latest in water park technology, according to Patrick Brennan, a Disney Imagineer who worked on its design. The attraction has powerful water jets that propel visitors up and down a series of tunnels and slides around what appears to be a fruit processing plant that has seen better days, as much of the equipment appears rusty. It's part of the Typhoon Lagoon "legend" that tells us that what is now the park is what's left after a typhoon passed through a tropical area, sinking ships, knocking down palms and other trees in its wake. There are three different slides (Banana Blaster, Coconut Crusher and Pineapple Plunger) to choose from on "Crush 'N' Gusher" --each slide is 410 to 420 feet long with various degrees of descents. Other Typhoon Lagoon pastimes include a sandy beach and an area of activities for small children. Yet others include the Surf Pool, with waves up to six feet high (visitors can opt to surf at certain times); Shark Reef, that allows visitors to snorkel to see a wreck, tropical fish and sharks. Humunga Kowabunga, a triple enclosed slide, 214 feet long is for thrill seekers; Castaway Creek is for those who want to relax in a tube ride along a "creek." Tickets are $52 (adults) and $44 (children ages 3-9). Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Check out photos of Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
Orlando -- Wet 'n' Wild -- This Universal Orlando water park on International Drive offers 30 acres filled with attractions for the fearless, a "creek" for relaxation and an area for little kids. A highlight is Brain Wash, where visitors ride in tubes for two and four people to a height of six stories with a descent of 53 feet to a 65-foot long tunnel. Other pastimes include a wave pool; other slides; knee-boarding (a type of water ski in a lagoon), a variety of attractions visitors ride in tubes and more. Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for children (ages 3-9) and seniors. Tickets are $10 cheaper when ordered in advance online. Visit www.wetnwild.com.
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Orlando -- CoCo Key Waterpark -- This is Orlando's newest and largest canopy covered and outdoor water resort. With more than 62,000 -q.ft. of water resort adventures, 14 thrilling slides including an interactive jungle gym adventure for younger children, Coral Reef Cove and Cyclone body slide, and Boomerango double rider slide. Guests can visit for the day or stay overnight at the park's resort hotel. Tickets are $24.95, $14.95 for Florida residents (weekdays only), and $14.95 twilight passes (4pm until close, Sun-Thurs). Visit www.cocokeywaterresort.com.
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Ocala -- Wild Waters at Ocala's Silver Springs park is a waterpark for anyone looking for a refreshing break from the North Florida heat. It offers places for lounging "beachside" or in the shade. Surfers can take on the 450,000-gallon wave pool or slides like Osceola's Revenge, Bunyan's Bend or the Mini Monster. For the more adventurous there ire the three-story Hurricane or 220-foot-long Silver Bullet speed flumes. Younger children can play at the Cool Kids Cove or take a swim in the Tad Pool. Tickets are $14 for adults and children. For those interested in access to Wild Waters all season, an season pass is $32.99. Visit www.wildwaterspark.com.
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West Palm Beach -- Rapids Water Park is South Florida's premiere family park. It features a full day of fun, from a splash in the cool blue waves, to a ride down one of the 29 water slides, or just floating around the lazy river. The park has 25 acres attractions including Florida's largest water ride Big Thunder, the seven-story drop of Pirate's Plunge, or the 25,000-square-foot wave pool Big Surf. Children can take on gators and dragons in a climb across Alligator Alley, or take a ride and play with water cannons in the Splish Splash Lagoon. Tickets are $38.99 on weekdays, $42.99 on Saturdays and Sundays, and children age 2 and under are free. Visit www.rapidswaterpark.com.
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Panama City Beach -- Shipwreck Island Waterpark offers cool H2O fun in a Lazy River tube ride, an Ocean Motion Wave Pool and such thrill rides as Raging Rapids tube ride and mega slides like Pirate's Plunge and Tree Top Drop. A large children's play area is the ticket to splashing fun for families with young children. Admission is $33 per person for visitors over 50 inches tall; $28 for those between 35 and 50 inches (free for those under 35 inches); $22 for senior citizens. Visit www.shipwreckisland.com.
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Destin -- Big Kahuna's Waterpark in Destin brings beachgoers a new place for fun in the sun. From the brand new Honolulu Half Pipe for surfers to Crocodile Flats for little swimmers, the park offers a day's worth of a water-fun attractions. The 70-foot free fall drop on Jumanji, the Maui Pipeline speed slides, and the Tiki River Run are just some of the Hawaiian-themed park's adventures. Tickets are $37.99 for adults, $29.99 for children (under 48 inches) and seniors, and children age 2 and under are free. Advance tickets online are $2 cheaper. Visit www.bigkahunas.com.
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Spring Hill -- Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a spring-fed water park featuring a sandy beach, lazy river, and body slides and flume rides. For youngsters there is the Lil' Mates Caribbean Cove. Tickets to Buccaneer Bay include admission to the Weeki Wachee Springs Show. Admission is $13 for adults, $8 for children. Children younger than 5 are admitted free. Visit www.weekiwachee.com.
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Tampa -- Adventure Island, a 30-acre water park adjacent to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, offers bubbling fun in both relaxing and thrilling attractions. The park has a Key West ambiance and a variety of slides, corkscrews, waterfalls, a wave pool and children's playground. A "must" for adventure seekers is Riptide, a four-lane mat slide with a height of 55 feet and four enclosed tube and open lanes. Admission is $46 for adults and $42 for children on weekdays. Online Florida and Georgia resident price is $37.95. Visit www.adventureisland.com.
Check out photos of Adventure Island
Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer Casey Vaughn contributed to this report.
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