From the earliest slides to the fastest flumes and the most concentric corkscrews, waterparks get bigger, faster and more extreme with every new one that opens. And when it comes to the question of the biggest water park in the world, the contenders are truly wild!
Like bungee jumping, the invention of the waterslide is generally credited to New Zealanders, but the world’s largest water park would be unrecognisable to the early pioneers of these water wonderlands.
Although there may have been earlier examples, the world’s first water slide to have garnered any type of attention was installed at the 1906 International Exhibition in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was nothing more than a chute that skimmed the swimmer over the water. Over the next two decades, others were built at fairs and events all over the world.
The man credited with inventing the water slide as we know it today, was Herbert Sellner, an American furniture maker who created a toboggan slide where riders would skim across a lake before finally falling in. In fact it was Sellner’s innovations that helped to create today’s multi-billion dollar water entertainment industry.
Between the 1940s and the 1970s there were lots of water slides of increasing complexity at pools, lakes and beaches around the world. However, in 1977 the game changed forever.
The world’s first purpose-built water park, Wet n’ Wild, was opened in Orlando, Florida in 1977 by SeaWorld founder George Millay. Today, there are thousands of water parks all over the world and the biggest waterpark would have Mr Millay open-mouthed in amazement!
DreamWorks Water Park
Location: New Jersey, USA | Size: 34,400 m2 | Water slides: 15
The largest indoor water park in North America boasts 365 days of summer with a year-round tropical temperature of a balmy 27°C.
DreamWorks has the world’s largest indoor wave pool, the world’s tallest trapdoor capsules, dropping from an astonishing 14 storeys high, and the world’s largest indoor tipping bucket. If you’re a serious thrill-seeker you can experience game-changing airtime with the world’s longest hydromagnetic rocket coaster!
Chimelong Water Park
Location: Guangzhou, China | Size: 40,000 m2 | Annual visitors: 2.5m
This huge water park is part of Chimelong Paradise, China’s largest amusement venue, which covers an area of over 600,000 square metres.
Chimelong has one of the world’s longest lazy rivers as well as a huge wave pool. One of the biggest waterparks in the world, it has the first Family Python slide in China, as well as the world’s first SlideWheel. It also uses one of the most advanced ozone water filtration systems in the world.
Wild Wadi Water Park
Location: Dubai, UAE | Size: 50,000 m2 | Annual visitors: 1m
Opened in 1998, the Wild Wadi Water Park is next to the Burj Al Arab, one of the world’s tallest hotels. Wild Wadi has three pools and seventeen slides, including the Jumeirah Sceirah which ranks among the world’s tallest and fastest freefall water slides. Wild Wadi is also home to Breaker Bay, the largest wave pool in the entire Middle East.
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE | Size: 150,000 m2 | Annual visitors: 1.2m
The world’s largest six-person tornado water coaster, the world’s largest sheet wave, and unique rides that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth, Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi may not be the biggest water park in the world but it boasts a range of eye-catching attractions.
The park’s theme is based on an Emirati tale of a young girl named Dana searching for a legendary lost pearl. Alongside more than forty high-octane rides and super-long slides there are luxury cabanas, pearl diving and an incredible underwater VR experience.
Location: Tenerife, Spain | Size: 186,000 m2 | Annual visitors: 1.2m
For awesome aqua adventures with a Thai-theme, look no further than Siam Park on the Spanish holiday island of Tenerife. One of the world’s largest water parks, it has one of the biggest collections of Thai-themed buildings outside of Thailand itself and has twice been voted ‘world’s best water park’.
At over three metres, the waves in the Wave Palace are the highest in the world, and until very recently it was home to the world’s longest lazy river. For the hardcore adrenaline junkies, there are super-fast slides including the Vulcano, The Dragon, Naga racer and the vertical freefall Tower of Power.
Atlantis Aquaventure - Dubai
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates | Size: 221,000m2 | Annual visitors: 800,000+
At Atlantis The Palm resort in Dubai is the world’s largest water park by number of slides. According to Guinness World Records, there are an amazing 50 water slides, including the near-vertical drops of Blackout and the nine-storey Leap of Faith.
There’s also the Shockwave, the longest family water coaster in the world at 449 metres as well as group rides, the awesome Hydra Racer and Gravity Falls, the thrill-seeking, gravity-defying cliff jumps for those that dare!
Noah’s Ark Water Park
Location: Wisconsin, USA | Size: 280,000 m2 | Annual visitors: 5m
With dozens of waterslides covering a distance of almost five kilometres, Noah’s Ark Water Park is the largest in the USA and one of the largest water parks in the world.
There are pools, lazy rivers, slides and attractions for kids, but for the serious thrill seekers there’s the Black Anaconda – dubbed America’s most thrilling water coaster – and the world’s largest twisting, turning king cobra slide. To top it all off there’s the Scorpion’s Tail, with a near-vertical 10-storey high, 122-metre drop at a speed of 15-metres per second!
Aquaventure Water Park - Bahamas
Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas | Size: 570,600 m2 | Annual visitors: 1.9m
The Aquaventure Water Park is – by size – the biggest water park in the world. Located in one of the world’s most popular resorts, it’s themed around the lost city of Atlantis. From the fiercest water slides in the Caribbean, twenty swimming areas, fourteen unique pools, white sandy beaches, grotto pools, a Mayan Temple and a mile-long rapids river, you could spend a week here and still not cover it all.
The World's Largest Indoor Water Park
Location: Brandenburg, Germany | Size: 66,000 m2 | Annual visitors: 1.3m
On the site of the former Brand-Briesen military airfield 70 kilometres south of Berlin is the Tropical Islands Resort, the world’s largest indoor water park. The German giant includes the world’s biggest indoor rainforest – with over 50,000 plants – water slides, a tropical sea the size of five Olympic swimming pools, a wild water canal, and an awesome surf experience called Pororoca, or Big Rumble!