In areas of the United States that experience long, cold fall and winter seasons, indoor water parks are the perfect escape for families to grab a little taste of summertime anytime. Indoor water parks encompass a range of sizes, from small-scale operations to large productions. With water park attractions located under one roof and offering something for every age, it's no wonder that indoor water parks are, as indicated by Hotel & Leisure Advisors, growing in popularity.
Multi-State Resort Chains
Resort chains offer visitors a recognizable brand and options for vacation planning. A chain's different locations offer similar rides and attractions, ensuring that guests know what they are getting when they book their reservations.
CoCo Key Resorts
Families looking for a fun place to stay may want to check and see if their vacation destination is home to one of the ten CoCo Key water park resort locations. These indoor water wonderlands feature palm trees, constant 84-degree temperatures, and a slew of colorful decorations.
Great Wolf Lodge
With ten locations in the U.S. and one in Canada, this popular chain is synonymous with indoor water parks. The main feature of Great Wolf Lodge water parks is a 12-level tree house fort equipped with water play to make it fun for kids of all ages, along with a wide variety of other activities. A rustic north woods theme is represented indoors and out.
From the snow belt to the balmy south, indoor water parks are popular family vacation destinations in many states. Families can spend a day at an indoor water park during their travels, or plan their vacations to include stays at resorts that have on-site indoor water parks. Guests at these resorts can enjoy the ease of having both water park amusements and hotel accommodations in one place.
The far-north state possesses one of the longest winters, but only one indoor water park. H20 Oasis is located in Anchorage, the state's most populous city. The facility is named as one of the best indoor water parks in the U.S. by the Travel Channel.
Located in the upper Midwest of the United States, Illinois is subject to long winters. The state boasts several indoor water parks, including two CoCo Key resorts - one in Rockford and another in Chicago. Other options throughout the state include:
- Mayan Adventure in Elmhurst
- The Water Works in Schaumburg
- Key Lime Cove in Gurnee
- Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear in Starved Rock
- Vaughn Aquatic Center in Aurora
- Waves of Fun in Sandwich
- Frontier Lodge in Utica
Right next door to Illinois, there are three indoor water parks in Indiana. Two are in Indianapolis and one in Shipshewana.
- Caribbean Cove in Indianapolis
- Indy Island Aquatic Center in Indianapolis
- Splash Universe in Shipshewana
On a border with Canada, and Illinois' other neighbor, Michigan's has very cold winters. There are five indoor water resorts in Michigan, including a Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Other indoor water parks in the state are:
- Avalanche Bay in Boyne Hills
- Zehnder's Splash Village in Frankenmuth
- Double JJ Ranch and Golf Resort in New Era, near Lake Michigan
- Best Western Sterling Inn in Detroit
Water Park America, one the largest and busiest water parks in the U.S., is attached to the Mall of America in Bloomington. It's only one of nine indoor water parks in the frigid northern Midwestern state. The state's other indoor water parks include:
- Venetian at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Maple Grove
- Paul Bunyan Water Park in Baxter
- The Edge at Edgewater Resort in Duluth
- Wild Woods at the Holiday Inn in Elk River
- Tropic Indoor Water Park in the Shoreview Community Center
- The Big Splash at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria
- Northern Hideaway in Ottertail
- Water Park at the Depot in downtown Minneapolis
Thick in the northern snow belt, Ohio is home to several water parks including two Great Wolf Lodge resorts, one in Sandusky and the other near Cincinnati and two CoCo Key resorts, one east of Columbus and another in Cincinnati. Other indoor water parks include:
- Castaway Bay in Cedar Point
- Kalahari Resort in Sandusky
- Fort Rapids in Columbus
- Splash Bay near Toledo
- Splash Harbor in Bellville
Though winter weather can be quite harsh and cold in Pennsylvania, there are only four water parks in the state, including a Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. Other parks include:
- Splash Lagoon in Erie, which is in the far northern part of the state on Lake Erie
- Waldameer WaterWorld in Erie
- Conley Resort in Butler, about 50 minutes from Pittsburgh
This genteel southern state is home to country music, lovely scenery and many attractions, including three indoor water parks. The water parks are all located in the eastern part of the state in and around the Smoky Mountains. Locations are:
- Wild WaterDome in Sevierville
- Wild Bear Falls in Gatlinburg
- The Resort at Governor's Crossing in Sevierville
Despite the state's tremendous size, there are only four indoor water parks in Texas, including a Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine near the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Other locations in the state include:
- WaterPark at the Villages in Lake Palestine, about two hours east of Dallas
- Schlitterbahn on Galveston Island
- Schlitterbahn on South Padre Island
The Old Dominion state has only two indoor water parks, a Great Wolf Lodge located near Williamsburg and Massanutten Resort in Harrisonburg in western Virginia. Plans for a third African themed resort in the Kalahari chain began in 2009, but stalled due to lack of financing in 2012.
The largest city in the state of Wisconsin the, Milwaukee area has four indoor water parks including two in the city: Puddle Jumper Lagoon at the airport and Paradise Landing at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Two others are nearby in surrounding towns:
- Springs Water Park in Waukesha, about twenty minutes from downtown
- Crawdaddy Cove in Madison, about an hour away from the city
Wisconsin Dells, in the south central part of the state, is home to three indoor water parks:
- Great Wolf Lodge
- Kalahari Resort Water Park
- Grand Marquis Water Park Hotel
Typical Park Elements
You can enjoy climate controlled water-fun at any indoor water park you decide to visit. While no two parks are literally identical, a number of elements can typically be found in most parks. Popular features include:
- Lazy river - Most indoor water parks include a river that circles the park where visitors can float along in a tube. While not the most spine-tingling part of any indoor water park, this relaxing attraction gets its fair share of fans.
- Tube slides - Tube slides come in different shapes and sizes, with options ranging from tame selections for kids to thrill rides for older adventure-seekers.
- Body slides - Body slides are backbone of any water park. With options that include super fast flumes or winding twists and turns, this is where the action is!
- Wave pool - This is one of the more popular attractions at any water park, allowing visitors to ride the waves in a simulated ocean.
- Kiddie area - Indoor parks typically provide an area just for small children, with elements such as dump buckets, sprayers, and child-size slides.
- Coaster - Depending on the size of the park, some may feature a water roller coaster, propelled by jets of water.
Popular Year-Round Vacation Option
Indoor water parks can be an oasis for those plagued by cold winters, though they are not just for cold weather fun. These parks also allow visitors escape the heat of summer and avoid inclement conditions any time of year. Indoor water parks came on the scene in 1985, with the first built in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. World Waterpark, as it is known, is over 225,000 square feet and includes the largest indoor wave pool, a variety of water rides, zip lines, and bungee jumping. It wasn't until 1994 that the first U.S. indoor water park was built at the Polynesian Hotel in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. With an increase in the number of these parks over the years, it's becoming easier for families to visit an indoor water park without having to travel too far from home.