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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wet and wild: America’s top water parks

By Valerie Moloney

For some of us, nothing strikes more fear than parading around in a swimsuit — in public. Add a water park to the mix, and that’s downright fearless.

Clearly, I’m on the team of visitors who spend most of the day floating in the wave pool or splashing under the water umbrellas with my little girls. Regardless, a water park is a surefire way for anyone — adrenaline junkie or sun baby — to beat the heat and burn a day of summer vacation.

It’s also a more affordable option for cash-strapped, but trip-starved parents looking for an easy road trip and attractive alternative to pricey theme parks. And considering some water parks — such as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Gurnee, Ill. — are connected to amusement parks, a water park excursion holds built-in summer fun.

So pack the flip flops. Slap on the sunscreen. It’s time to zip down the list of America’s  best water parks.

1. Water Country USA (Williamsburg, Va.)
2. Wet ‘n Wild (Orlando)
3. Disney’s Blizzard Beach (Orlando)
4. Evergreen Wings & Waves (McMinnville, Ore.)
5. Schlitterbahn (Galveston, Texas)
6. Wilderness Waterpark (Wisconsin Dells, Wis.)
7. Castaway Bay (Cedar Point, Ohio)
8. Splash Lagoon (Erie, Pa.)
9. Water Park of America (Bloomington, Minn.)
10. Great Wolf Lodge (multiple locations)

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Valerie Moloney, who manages the Orbitz and CheapTickets blogs, is too chicken for any body of water other than a wave pool, and even then, prefers the cool comfort of a swim-up bar.

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