Summer is in full swing, and with the kids out of school, millions of visitors will descend on Orlando for a family vacation. The combination of sweltering Central Florida heat and crowded theme parks can make for a hot and sticky situation. Thankfully, Disney, Universal Studios and SeaWorld have numerous water rides that will not only get your heart pounding but, more importantly, help you cool off.
Like nearly everything at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, there’s more to the story of the popular Splash Mountain than just your standard water-flume ride. From your seat inside a floating log, follow scenes from the movie Song of the South and watch as Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear try to catch the elusive Br’er Rabbit. They’re finally successful, but Br’er Rabbit manages to trick his captors into tossing him — and you — off of a cliff and into a briar patch. In the end, Brer Rabbit is safe and sound back home, and you’re probably in need of a hair dryer.
At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, climb aboard boats for a river cruise through Jurassic Park. Just like in the movie, the peaceful tour among the formerly extinct dinosaurs takes a frightening turn when a power failure releases the raptors and T-Rex from their holding pens. For a while, escape seems uncertain, but at the last moment, a heart-pounding 85-foot plunge delivers you to safety, albeit a little wet for the weary.
If getting drenched is your idea of “cooling off,” then Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is just the ride for you. Float down the white waters of the Kali River through a series of waterfalls and body-soaking dips. Just be sure to pack a poncho — on Kali River Rapids it’s not a question of if you’ll get soaked, but when.
At SeaWorld, the Journey to Atlantis is equal parts roller coaster and water ride, creating what is surely the best of both worlds. In a theme park where getting wet is almost a requirement for entry, Journey to Atlantis delivers a thorough soaking to those seated in the first couple of rows. Of course, even if you do manage to make it through the final plunge mostly dry, you still have to contend with fellow guests on a nearby bridge, aiming to soak you with their water blasters.
Photo Courtesy of Sea World Orlando