News surrounding an impending arrival of Pirate River Quest at Legoland Florida and the eventual transition of Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has given us water on the brain, but in a good way.
Central Florida’s theme parks offer many water-based attractions, ranging from tranquil flat boat rides to steep falls that end with saturation. Today, we’re rounding them up into three categories: The soakers, the sometimes squishies and the sadly dry.
For this column, we’re skipping water parks — they’re completely wet, after all — and shows that come with designated splash zones as seating.
Our splashy review reveals which of theme park is wettest and one that’s totally dry.
There’s a great chance you’ll get doused on these attractions
- Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom. It’s not an opening-day original, but it is the oldest of the soakers on our list, debuting in 1992. The log ride builds upward into the mountain, winding through animatronics and countrified scenes before reaching the crowd-pleasing plunge. Bonus points for the bonus scene after the drop. This attraction, as well as its twin at Disneyland, will become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in late 2024, Disney announced last week.
- Kali River Rapids, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The round-raft ride offers choppy waters, sloshing about and a drop in a lush setting that’s tucked away in the Asia section of the park. It also incorporates an unusual downer: Illegal logging.
- Infinity Falls, SeaWorld Orlando. The newest of our soakers, opening four years ago, is a raft ride that shows off its dramatic drop but, craftily, not how you get up there. Casual onlookers may get watered down on the observation deck/bridge.
- Journey to Atlantis, SeaWorld. The ride is a dark, mystical hybrid that goes from water ride to roller coaster. The big drop is visible to all, but the hump a few seconds after the drop may be its greatest water hazard. Onlookers can pay to spray riders from dry ground.
- Rubber Duckie Water Works in Sesame Street Land, SeaWorld. The kiddie play area, starring Bert, naturally, definitely requires a change of clothes.
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The colorful, cartoony adventure has splashy moments before reaching its dramatic ending with a ka-boom. The landing logs stir up a heavy mist toward spectators, who get a chance to squirt helpless riders who are slowly looping back to the loading station.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure, Islands of Adventure. The ride is in an intense setting, incorporating jungle scenes and dinos gone wild in a building. The water factor is mild until the end, where some riders face the splash head on.
- Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, IOA. The raft-ride is a front-runner in the “you will get soaked sweepstakes” with rollicking rapids, a series of water dumps, a scrubbing theme on a lift hill, spinning sloshy maneuvers and pranksters aboard Me Ship the Olive firing water cannons upon passengers during a sedate stretch of the ride.
- Curious George Goes to Town, Universal Studios. The splash area in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone has multiple watery elements, including a big bucket dump usually seen in full-out water parks.
Water isn’t the point of these rides. It’s more like a surprising accessory.
- Frozen Ever After, Epcot. The odds of getting a little wet aboard the ride’s Nordic vessels are best during the backward drop and its aftermath.
- Pirates of Caribbean, Magic Kingdom. This is a drier experience than one might anticipate from a swashbuckling attraction, but when the boats are full of full-grown adults, that weight can make the darkened drop end with laps full of water. Electronics, beware.
- Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom. Water spritzes around some of the animatronic animals in the rivers, but the wetness factor is low.
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Islands of Adventure. Riders control the whereabouts of their up and down/round and round vehicles but not the squirting fountains that can give folks an earful.
- Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, IOA. The ride kind of spits at you during Spidey’s encounter with Hydro-Man.
- E.T. Adventure, Universal Studios. Bicycling passengers have near misses with prancing fountains after arriving at the alien’s home planet.
These rides glide along the surface. If you get wet, you’ve probably broken park rules to do so.
- At Magic Kingdom, water is seen but not splashed while traveling to Tom Sawyer’s Island or aboard the Liberty Belle. The situation is more controlled inside “it’s a small world,” where riders float through international scenes, but the design could have been via railway or even a walk-through.
- At Epcot, it’s a similar floating situation with The Land and Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in Mexico pavilion. You’re told to keep hands and feet inside the boat at all times.
- At Animal Kingdom, Na’Vi River Journey could be considered “it’s a small avatar world.”
- Although there’s water in every direction at SeaWorld, much of it is animal habitat. Humans can get closer by renting flamingo-themed paddleboats.
- Islands of Adventure is for water lovers with soaked-through experiences Dudley, Bluto and Jurassic Park, plus there’s the mischievous Mystic Fountain and the water-tunnel effect inside Poseidon’s Fury.
- Universal Orlando park has no float-through attractions in the “it’s a small world” family.
- Want to stay dry? Disney’s Hollywood Studios, featuring zero water attractions, might appeal.
- Magic Kingdom has the greatest diversity of watery opportunities. It has attractions in all three of our saturation categories.
- A final surprise: There’s little to no actual water in the WDW attractions featuring “Finding Nemo” or “The Little Mermaid,” Disney films in underwater settings.
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