Nothing brings out your inner child quite like the prospect of a water slide or a wave pool. So this summer, don your sturdiest swimwear and swap the beach for one of our top wet and wild waterparks. Whether you’re into white-knuckle flume rides or meandering around a lazy river with a float, we’ve found 11 top picks around the UK that are guaranteed to make a splash, whatever the weather.
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Best waterparks in the UK
Best for: short breaks and staycations
Feel like you’re beachside in the Caribbean (sort of) at Splashing Landings Hotel in Alton Towers, where, thanks to its themed water park, you can pretend you’re holidaying abroad and not in Stoke-on-Trent. Inside, you’ll find a Master Blaster ride, a waterfall in Lagoona Bay and the interactive Wacky Waterworks, that’ll keep little’uns entertained with water cannons, buckets and wheels. In the summer months, there’s an outdoor section including a soothing “Bubbly Wubbly” pool and the Flash Floods outdoor flume adventure. Entry to the waterpark isn’t included with a standard Alton Towers ticket, but it’s worth adding on to extend your theme-park staycation for another day.
£18.50. Alton Towers Waterpark, Alton Towers Resort, Alton, England ST10 4DB.
Best for: Tropical climes
Filled with one million gallons of water, Midlands-based Waterworld has pretty much everything you could want from a tropical waterpark. Rides wise, there’s the ominously named Black Hole and the Python, as well as the Space Bowl, where a flume shoots you in a bowl (that kind of looks like the Millenium Falcon), and you spin around until you drop out into the plunge pool below. It has all the classics, too: a lazy river, flumes, rapids and a wave pool, as well as four new slides arriving this summer.
From £13.95. Waterworld, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, England ST1 5PU.
Best for: Forward-planners
At Splashdown in Dorset there are 13 rides to choose from, and planning your sliding schedule has never been easier with their handy, online, colour-coded guide ranking the rides. Up at the top, you’ll find your high-speed thrills from the Screamer and Velocity, or the short, near-vertical drop of the Baron’s Revenge. While only eight metres long, it’ll have you hanging onto your trunks. In summer, many of the rides divert to outside courses for al fresco water fun.
£16. Splashdown, Poole, Dorset, England BH12 4NY.
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Best for: inflatable fun
This classic leisure centre is slightly smaller than some of the big-ticket waterparks, but has plenty to entertain, including a ‘Mission Inflatable’ assault course filled with rollers, sliders and demolition balls. If you have any energy left afterwards, a ticket for Mission Inflatable gets you 45 minutes in the Leisure Pool afterwards, where you’ll find all your waterpark faves including a Master Blaster slide, a Space Bowl, rapids, waterfalls and a lazy river.
£8. Lagan Valley, Lisburn, Northern Ireland BT28 1LP.
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Best for: thrillseekers
As the UK’s largest indoor waterpark, this tangle of flumes sits on a prime location along Blackpool’s famous promenade. Tropical isn’t a word you’d usually associate with the British seaside, but Sandcastle is heated to balmy 29 degrees. Adrenaline junkies will want to invest in a hyperzone wristband – that’s your entry to those big, white-knuckles slides, including the half-pipe-inspired Sidewinder and the Master Blaster – the world’s longest indoor rollercoaster waterslide at 250m long.
£16.75, plus £6.25 for a hyperzone wristband. Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool, England FY4 1BB.
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Best for: natural light and the eco-friendliness
With big glass windows, the pleasingly shaped wooden building of the Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire lets in plenty of light, so you can float and gaze up at the sky. There’s a large wave pool and four flumes to zoom down, or, for a bit of rest and relaxation, head outside to drift around on the lazy river, relax in the bubble pool or wind down in the outdoor spa. The whole place is heated by biomass produced by local farmers for the nearby energy centre.
£6.95. Blue Lagoon, Narberth, Wales SA67 8DE.
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Best for: outdoor rides
Don’t worry, you’re not having deja vu. There are two Splashdowns, and this one is in Devon set on the seafront at Goodrington Sands. This Splashdown is the biggest outdoor waterpark in the UK, with eight rides to choose from, and it’s the perfect place to cool off on warm summer days where you can slide in the open flumes with the sun on your face. In true seaside style, there’s a beach bar, an ice cream hut and also an arcade, so bring your spare 2ps.
£16. Splashdown, Paignton, Devon, England TQ4 6LN.
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Best for: Beginner surfers
Although the Welsh coastline gets some great surf, you won’t need to worry about the weather conditions or the temperature at LC Swansea, where you can learn to ride the waves on their indoor surf simulator: The Boardrider. Perfect for beginners, grab a boogie board or actual surfboard and try out riding a wave that never ends. Waves not your thing? There’s also a lazy river, flume rides and waterslides.
From £5. The LC Swansea, Swansea, Wales SA1 3ST.
Best for: all abilities
Everyone is catered for at Wet and Wild in Tyneside, from swimmers in armbands to those searching for a fast and furious slide experience. It’s flume heaven, with ten to choose from, starting from a lazy river and slow flumes, working your way up to the Tempest and the Cyclone for a medium speed, and ending in one of the three speediest with suitably terrifying names: the Abyss, the Kamikaze and the Tornado Racer. Not for the faint-hearted.
£9.95. Wet ‘n’ Wild, North Shields, England NE29 6DA.
Best for: group rides
Glasgow might not be the first location that springs to mind when you think of waterparks, but at Time Capsule they have some pretty unique rides. The Tornado Tantrum flume is so large you could fit a Mini Cooper inside, so there’s plenty of room for you and four mates to whizz down together. There’s also the 10-metre high Storm Chaser: twin flumes named Thunder and Lightning, where you can challenge a friend and see who comes out first...
£7.85. Time Capsule Waterpark, Coatbridge, Scotland ML5 1DL.
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Best for: Something a bit different
This relatively new waterpark in Scarborough claims to be ‘unlike any waterpark you’ve seen before’. Having said that, you’ll find plenty of the classics: four flume rides, a wave pool and a big main pool. So, what’s so different? Once you’re done with the thrills, Alpamare also offers you the chance to unwind away from the buzz of the rides. Take a dip in the 35-degree heated infinity pool that’s filled with healing iodine water and looks out over the bay, or go the whole hog and visit the spa complete with a sauna, a hammam and a range of blissful treatments.
Waterpark entrance £16, admission to the Wellness Spa £39. Alpamare, Scarborough, England YO12 6PH.
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