Making a SPLASH
By Katie Gough
Our family loves exploring Kansas, and we love a good challenge. In 2017, we dedicated our summer to visiting all the city parks in Wichita (over 100!) and we are currently on a quest to visit a park in every county in Kansas. When our adventurous boys and I heard about the Splash Across Kansas program, we were so excited. The economics of it appealed to the adults, I mean, two admissions to so many waterparks for only $40?!
We did make it to all the participating aquatic facilities. From Liberal to the Kansas City metro area, we traversed the state seeking adventures.
While we had fun at all of the water parks, we did have our favorites. Important to us were not only the features of the park, but our interactions with the staff, tidiness of the parks and layout as well. Most customers look at the big items (like slides), but the details are important as well: shade options for both swimmers and watchers, sidewalk sprayers and availability of rafts were big factors in making our visits a success.
Here are our five favorite water parks:
- · Salt City Splash – Hutchinson: The zero-depth entry pool included neat, low chairs set in the water for parents to while watching their kids play in the splash area. There were two large twisty slides and an Olympic-sized pool with diving boards, drop slide and floating animals.
- · Rock River Rapids – Derby: The facility is top-notch and had all of the features the kids were looking for: thrilling slides, cool splash area, regular swimming pool with floating animals and a lazy river. The staff are sticklers for the rules, which definitely makes you feel safe!
- · City Park Waterpark – Manhattan: This was a unique park with two features we didn’t see at the other parks: the aquabubble (bubble slide) and the stingray (surfing area). They also had a lazy river and twisty slides. We almost couldn’t get the kids to leave!
- · Long Branch Lagoon – Dodge City: We visited this waterpark last summer as well, and both times the staff at this park were amazing. The lazy river is an adventure, and the slides are awesome.
- · Midwest Health Aquatic Center – Topeka: The bowtie-shaped wave pool was where we spent most of our visit, but they had great slides and a super kids area as well.
One note of caution while planning your adventures. The program went until Labor Day, but not all pools are open that long. We were planning on concluding our adventures at College Hill Pool in Wichita (since we finished our Wichita city park adventure there), but they closed the week after school started.
Another note when planning: find out when the break times are for swimming. We showed up at a pool thinking we had over an hour of swim time right as a twenty-minute break was beginning. It was very interesting to see the different break structures and lifeguard management at each pool.
All in all, we would do this adventure again next year. We are so glad the Splash Across Kansas program prompted us to adventure out to discover water parks we didn’t know about.