It’s universal knowledge that waterslides are the only reason to go to a water park.
Although some water parks may try to lure people in with promises of an expansive wave pool or relaxing lazy river, everybody knows that the only attraction worth lining up for is a tall, fast and slippery waterslide.
And over the past few years, waterslides have only got wilder, wetter and wackier. The list of the world’s craziest waterslides has grown to include rides that incorporate light shows, some of the steepest descents on the planet and inverted loops that shoot riders upside down through a fast-running stream of water.
And although most of these rides may only last a few seconds, the heart-thumping, fist-clenching thrills are what keep people coming back.
From a waterslide in the Bahamas that runs through a tank filled with live sharks, to a human water catapult in Austria, these are the world’s wildest waterslides.
Summit Plummet — Blizzard Beach at Disney World, Florida
The most magical place on earth has some pretty terrifying thrills. The 120-foot near-vertical drop on Summit Plummet puts gravity to the test. Riders slide down 12 stories (while a clock records their top speeds), fly through a darkened tunnel and then splash into whitewater at the end of their 360-foot-long ride.
Leap of Faith — Atlantis, Bahamas
The iconic slide at Atlantis Paradise Island speeds riders down a thrilling 60-foot near-vertical drop. But the best part is the clear acrylic tunnel where riders shoot through a lagoon filled with live sharks.
Boeing 747 — Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark, Oregon
Thrill seekers love gravity-defying waterslides. This Oregon waterpark (linked with the Oregon Aviation Museum) has a real Boeing 747 with four waterslides coming out of it. Guests can choose their own adventure out of the aircraft, including the Sonic Boom slide which gives riders the feeling that they’re shooting through the cockpit of a plane.
Bullet Bowl — Watercube, Beijing
Waste not, want not. After the 2008 Olympics, China decided to reuse and recycle its “watercube” aquatic structure as a waterpark. Today the space is home to Asia’s largest waterpark. But the star attraction of the location is the “bullet bowl” which whips riders around a whirlpool before sending them down a dark, steep drop.
Insano — Fortaleza, Brazil
Sometimes you just have to trust a name. The “Insano” at Fortaleza starts 14 stories high and sends riders down an extreme freefall. For those who can handle the plummet, top speeds on the ride are about 65 miles per hour.
Scorpion’s Tail — Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin
Take a looping roller coaster and then just add water for a taste of this terrifying ride. Riders drop 55 feet from a trap door to pick up enough speed (about 30 miles per hour) to go completely upside down and through a loop. Vertigo is more fun when wet.
Cannonball — Area 47, Austria
For those who still get a thrill out of yelling “Cannonball!” and then running at top speeds towards a pool, this ride has a similar vibe. It basically turns bodies into “human cannonballs” and sends them flying in a powerful spray of water until they drop into a deep pool. The park warns that the sensation is “addictive,” so those who try it should prepare for multiple rides.
The Cyclone — World Waterpark, Canada
From start to finish, there are 361 feet of tubing in The Cyclone. Within that distance, riders will experience the floor dropping out from under them, gathering speeds up to 40 miles per hour, catapulting through a near-vertical loop and then emerging from the tunnel with a triumphant splash.
Jumeirah Sceirah — Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai
Challenge a friend to the Jumeirah Sceirah. Two tandem slides start at about 105 feet in the air and whoosh riders to the bottom in just a few seconds. See who comes out first into the pool, but don’t feel bad if you were the slowest rider. You still probably reached about 50 miles per hour.
Tornado — Chimelong Water Park, China
For those who wish their theme park experience was just a bit more inspired by mother nature’s fury, this funnel-shaped slide is the perfect attraction. Riders sit on four-seater floats as they take off from a six-story high platform. Then they are dropped into a funnel and pulled out “as though being sucked into a tornado,” the park says. Afterwards, guests can visit the neighboring Tornado Massage Pool to calm down after the thrilling ride.
Twister and Speedy— Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg Thermal Spa, Austria
These two Austrian slides let riders choose their own adventure. They both wrap around the spa’s tall watch tower several times, effectively sending riders for a spin. Speedy is the faster slide but Twister is one of the longest in Europe, clocking in at over 660 feet in length.
Città del Mare — Palermo, Italy
Nature makes the best waterslides — with a little help from man. The three side-by-side slides at the Citta del Mare Resort in Sicily escort guests down a scenic cliff, into three pools and finally drop them into the Mediterranean Sea.
Tantrum Alley — Wild Wadi, Dubai, UAE
It’s been said that fear brings people together. This raft ride will bond four people together forever as they experience three funnel drops together, tumbling in all different directions through the slides “tornadoes” of water.
Wildebeest — Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana
The Wildebeest is the second longest water ride in the world. It measures one-third of a mile long and takes guests on a wild two-and-a-half minute ride. Throughout the course, riders will go up a conveyor belt, down a four-story drop, through two underground tunnels and around a helix. But the coolest part of this ride is that, because of its conveyor-belt lift, it’s accessible to guests that would otherwise have difficulties going up stairs.
AquaLoop — Calypso Park, Canada
In less than two seconds, riders on the AquaLoop will experience 2 Gs of force. From a trap door, riders drop down a 56-foot near-vertical descent and through a complete loop. Although the whole thing is over in about seven seconds, there are two separate slides. Riders can challenge friends to see who’s the first to emerge from the vertigo-inducing loop.
L2 — Wörgler Wasserwelt, Austria
Before riders fall down 40 stories, they are treated to beautiful views of the Alps. But the views are quickly forgotten in the world’s first double-looping waterslide. Riders are enclosed in a capsule and shot like a “rocket launch” through two complete loops. The park warns that the ride is NOT for “wimps, wusses and chickens.”
Dolphin Plunge — Aquatica at SeaWorld Orlando, Florida
Nothing can make an experience better quite like dolphins. Although this waterslide through a clear tube is already a fast thrill, the experience of sliding through a tank with a pod of white Commerson’s Dolphins takes the whole thing to the next level. Keep your eyes open throughout the slide — the dolphins are known to race alongside riders as they zoom through the tank.
Big Thunder — Rapids Water Park, West Palm Beach, Florida
This epic waterslide provides a momentary glimpse of what it’s like to be an astronaut. After emerging from a dark tunnel, riders drop 45 degrees into a funnel that shoots them back and forth until they reach extreme heights and even a brief moment of zero gravity.
Poseidon’s Revenge — Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai
Add the thrill of competition to this looping water ride. Riders are enclosed in capsules that accelerate to 37 miles per hour on the dueling ride with two slides. Each side is equipped with a timer so at the end when riders step out, they can see who made it out the fastest.
Wild Vortex — Wilderness at the Smokies, Tennessee
After riders assume their starting position on the Wild Vortex, they wait for the countdown until the trap door beneath them is released and they fall 39 feet straight down. Riders can reach up to 40 miles per hour and experience 2.5 g-force as they woosh down the slide and through a loop before landing in a pool on the opposite end.
Divertical — Mirabilandia, Italy
The new Divertical combines the best of water slides and roller coasters. Riders are enclosed in cars that look like speed boats and speed around the track. But before the ride begins, an elevator system lifts the “boat” cars up 197 feet to the top of a hill. From there, the cars speed down almost 70 miles per hour and make a giant splash in the pool below.
Corkscrew Cavern — Roaring Springs Waterpark, Idaho
This action-packed waterslide is not for people who have claustrophobia. It’s the largest looping waterslide in the Northwest — although the tubes are anything but. Riders only have a narrow 32-inch tunnels that blasts them 38 feet per second through a 360-degree loop until they reach the end of the ride.
Shaka — Wet ‘n’ Wild in Oahu, Hawaii
Variety is the spice of life. This combination wet/dry ride shoots riders backwards, forwards and even (practically) straight down. During top speeds and heights, riders feel like they’ve reached zero gravity. But what makes the ride most fun is that it can be done in a tandem raft where riders face each other while switching directions.
Point Plummet — Cedar Point Shores, Ohio
Cedar Point will premiere a brand new waterpark this summer, the star attraction of which is likely to be Point Plummet. The four-person slide drops all riders at the exact same time down six stories when the floor falls out underneath them. Whoever reaches the end of the 400-foot-long slide (filled with twists, curves and turns) first is the winner.
Kilimanjaro — Aldeia das Aguas, Brazil
After climbing 234 steps up, it’s estimated that one in 20 riders chicken out from the slide at the top. It’s the tallest body slide in the world (over 160 feet), clocking in even higher than the Statue of Liberty (not including its pedestal). Those who brave the ride soar down a near-vertical drop before falling into the pool at the bottom.
Honu — Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay, Florida
This slide at the brand-new Universal Studios waterpark is based off of the Waturi mythological creature, Honu. The Hawaiian people created the friendly sea turtle by drawing marks upon a rock near the water. This slide takes the spirit of the myth and sends riders up two walls, through “ocean mists” and down into two pools full of sparkling water.
X-Treme Faser — Galaxy-erding, Germany
There are 20 different slides to choose from at Galaxy-erding water park — but there’s only one that women cannot ride. Officials deemed the ride “not suited to the female anatomy” in 2012 after several women reported genital injuries — although the park is apparently investigating a protective suit that women could wear if they wanted to ride the high-speed waterslide.
Black Hole — Bad 1 in Germany
If that unnerving boat scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came to life, it would probably look a lot like this slide. Riders start off in darkness and then go through a tunnel with an ever-changing and dizzying array of colored LEF lights. The trippiest part is a steady rainbow ring that then turns into Tron-like bursts of blue and green light until riders see the (literal) light at the end of the tunnel.