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Photograph: Universal Orlando ResortUniversal's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

The 9 best water parks in Florida

From roaring waterslides to toddler splash pads, the best water parks in Florida are prime for fun in the sun

Written by Megan duBois in association with GetYourGuide
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A day in Florida is often spent near some type of water, whether it’s a day at the beach, or the lake, or on one of the many water-based attractions at the Orlando theme parks. But when you’re looking for an instant way to cool off during the dog days of summer, consider one of the nine best water parks in Florida.

While most of the famed water parks are located in Orlando, some can be found in beachside towns like Tampa and Cape Coral. But, more importantly, each of the parks on our list pack in a ton of aqua-themed fun. And Florida's year-round sunshine means that most of these parks stay open well into fall as well. 

But before you dig out your bathing suit, a pro-tip: Be sure to read what you need to bring and what type of sunscreen is approved. Many of the water parks do not provide towels for guests and others require animal-safe sunscreen since there are live creatures that make appearances at the parks. Otherwise, get out there and cool off! 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Florida

Best water parks in Florida

Aquatica is Sea World's water park in Orlando. The main attraction here is the Dolphin Plunge, a water slide where you’ll glide past Commerson's dolphins as you zip down the slide into the pool below. To get a closer look at the dolphins, you can check them out on the observation floor just below the slide. The park has eight other water slides, a relaxing lazy river, and plenty of space for kids to enjoy a splash park built just for them.

What’s new: Riptide Race is the newest slide at Aquatica. On this family raft ride you race your fellow family members down the world’s tallest dueling race slide.

Another SeaWorld-operated park, you'll find Adventure Island near Tampa. The water park has nine different water slides, but our favorite it Riptide – racing your friends down the four-lane giant slide is the wetter version of the fair ride. Adventure Island is a seasonal park that’s open from March through November.

What’s new: The latest thing to do at Adventure Island is VR snorkeling. Explore the ocean, deep space or fly like a dragon all while snorkeling in crystal clear water.

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If you’ve ever wanted to swim with dolphins or glide along a lazy river that’s also an apiary, then you need to get to Discovery Cove in Orlando. The all-inclusive water park is filled with animal encounters for all ages and an enchanting snorkeling reef where you can swim with tropical fish and rays. But the highlight of any day at Discovery Cove is the chance to get up close to dolphins to learn more about the majestic creatures and even take a plunge into the pool with them.

What’s new: The Flamingo Mingle is the newest experience at Discovery Cove. Guests can take part in the morning feeding and learn about the bright pink bird from Discovery Cove animal experts.

LEGOLAND Florida Water Park is a seasonal attraction that’s part of the ever expanding LEGOLAND Florida Resort. The park is home to six attractions, all of which have a LEGO theme (of course). Kids and adults can enjoy raft rides like Twin Chasers and the Build-a-Raft Lazy River, and young ones will especially love the interactive play area, Joker Soaker.

What’s new: Creative Cove is the newest area at LEGOLAND Florida Water Park. Here you can build a one-of-a-kind boat and race against other kids to see who has the fastest ship on the high seas. 

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Snow and Florida typically don’t go together, but that didn’t stop the team at Walt Disney World from making a ski-lodge themed water park. (Legend goes that the idea for Blizzard Beach was born when a freak snowstorm hit Florida.) The park is home to Summit Plummet, which is one of the tallest and fastest body slides in the world!

Hot tip: While not new, we recommend renting a Polar Patio. These private spaces have cozy loungers, drink and towel service, and a dedicated patio host to assist you throughout the day.

Rapids Water Park is a seasonal park in Riviera Beach. The park has 20 rides and attractions for everyone in the family, from toddlers to thrill-seeking adults. Older kids can enjoy things like Alligator Alley, a sort of water obstacle course where they’ll need to traverse large lily pads and fake alligators to get across to the other side. Adults can all ride together on Big Thunder, a funnel slide that drops you at a 45 degree angle through tubes and into a massive water funnel.

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Universal Orlando Resort is home to a tropical oasis where a massive volcano is the focal point. Volcano Bay has plenty of water slides, a glittering lazy river and tasty snacks, but one thing that sets this water park apart from the rest is the Tapu Tapu. When you enter the park in the morning you’ll be given a bracelet to wear throughout the day. The Tapu Tapu bracelet holds your place in a virtual line for every ride, allows you to pay for food and drinks with cashless payment, and even opens your rental locker.

Hot tip: Guests staying on-site at one of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels should take advantage of the park's early-morning hours to avoid long wait times. 

The newest water park in Orlando is Island H2O Live! The interactive park allows you to accrue points throughout the day with a wearable wristband as you tap on various touch points. Your accrued points can then be cashed in for discounts on food, drinks and merchandise. Each of the 13 rides are named after a different aspect of social media like Follow Me Falls and Hashtag Heights.

What’s new: The entire park is still fairly new, but one unique thing is that guests dictate the music played inside. All you have to do is select your favorite song from the Island H2O Live! app and it gets added to the park playlist.

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Sun Splash Family Water Park is located in Cape Coral, and is southwest Florida’s largest water park. There’s plenty to do here for thrill skeekers and those just looking to relax along the lazy river. Don't miss the five-and-a-half–story free fall slides (you're guaranteed a massive wedgie but you’ll also get right back in line). Little kids can enjoy a pirate-themed splash zone just for them with water cannons, drop buckets and slides.

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