Splash into Summer with Nearby Water Parks
We still have a couple more months until local water parks open their gates for the 2017 season, but with warmer weather on the horizon, one can almost smell the coconut-scented sunblock lotion already. Northeast MS has several options for water park day trips, ranging from just-up-the-road slides and pools, to much larger water complexes with wave pools, lazy rivers, and more adventurous wet attractions. Families can choose between the closer and smaller splash zones or pack up for the parks that make an even bigger splash!
One of the most popular nearby water parks is Geyser Falls, located only two hours and 15 minutes away from Tupelo in Choctaw, MS. There is something here for the whole family, including Clearwater Key which is a Caribbean-like beach area with cabanas, interactive kids’ splash zone, lazy river, wavepool, free-fall slides, racing slides, and inter-tube slides. A cafe is available on site. Opening day is May 13 and is open on weekends until May 27 when it is openly daily (Mon-Sat from 10am-6pm and Sun. from noon-6pm) until July 30 when it then goes to weekends only again through Labor Day. Season passes are available now for $94.99 for ages 12 and older and $79.99 for ages 4-11. Single day admissions are for $36.99 for anyone over four feet tall and $26.99 for those under four feet, military, seniors, and first responders. This park charges more on Saturdays for one day admissions.
Just a little over two hours from Tupelo, Alabama Splash Adventure is located in Bessemer, AL, just outside of Birmingham. This water park was purchased by the Koch family in 2014 with plans to invest in improvements every year. With several tube rides, slides, water rides like water bumper cars, kids’ splash area, a mist-ical water maze, beach fun, and more, this water park will excite kids and parents alike. Although no coolers are allowed inside, there is a picnic area outside and same-day re-entry to the park is permitted. After the park re-opens in May it is open daily, although Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are recommended for families wanting to beat the crowds. Season passes are now on sale for $79.95 per person with a $20 bonus cash value. Plus, families of four can save $20 by purchasing the new in 2017 Family Pack. One day adult tickets are only $29.95 for ages 18 and up, $25.95 for ages 7-17, $21.95 for ages 3-6, and free for kids under two.
Also only two hours from Tupelo is the slightly smaller Point Mallard in Decatur, AL. Home to America’s first wave pool, this park features a lazy river, splash pad, speed slides, three flume slides, Olympic pool, kiddie pools, scenic lagoon, and sandy beach. It opens for the season May 27 and is open daily through August 13 and then weekends through Labor Day. This is also bargain friendly at only $20 for adults ages 12-61, $15 for kids ages 5-11 and military, and free for kids four and under. Additional, on Monday-Thursdays (holidays excluded), admission is half-off. Season passes are $99 for individuals and $300 for a family of four.
Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort in Nashville,TN, is further at four hours from Tupelo, but this is more than an average water park. Set on Percy Priest Lake, this family attraction features more than one million gallons of water. Among its exciting attractions are a gigantic wave pool, eight water slides, Kowabunga Beach, water treehouse and playground, a lazy river, and even a riverboat cruise excursion on the Nashville Shoreliner. Opening day is May 6, and 2017 season passes are available now for only $59.99. Daily admission prices are $36.99 for 52″ and taller or $28.99 for shorter than 52″. If one purchases tickets online, they are all for the junior admission price. Another trick is to purchase after 4pm tickets for only $19.99 at either the place or online. Children under two are free; military and seniors also receive the junior admission price.
There are much smaller water parks close to Northeast Mississippi as well, but each include at least a large pool and a few slides.
Red Bay Water Park in Red Bay, AL, is only 50 minutes from Tupelo. With water slides for multiple ages this open daily park is $8 per person Monday-Saturday 1pm-5pm and $5 on Sunday 2pm-5pm. A season pass is available for $75 or $250 for a family of four. Private parties are also available.
Fayetteville Aquatic Center in Fayetteville, AL, which is three hours from Tupelo has a splash pad, multiple slides, and a lazy river. Opening daily beginning May 27, this compact water park is only $10 per guest ages 2-64, with discounts for seniors, military, and non-swimmers. The park is open Mon-Sat from 10am-5pm and on Sundays from 1pm-5pm. Season passes are available for $100 for an individual with a family of four season pass available for $250. Beginning in June swimming lessons are offered at this park, which does require a swim test for anyone under 48″ who wishes to ride the big slides.
Lastly, Spring Valley Beach in Blountsville, AL, located between Huntsville and Birmingham boasts several slides and attractions. Its two-acre pool with a kid zone at one end and four slides at the other will be open for the 2017 season beginning end of May (official date yet to be announced). Season passes are $75 per individual, and daily admission is $23.15 per adult and$18.52 for seniors and children ages 3 to 48″ in height. Pool parking is $10 per day or free parking is available just outside the park grounds. This park is in a beautiful natural setting and advises visitors that there are honey bees around the park.
With so many choices nearby for family-friendly water fun, summer cannot get here quickly enough! Whether families decide to make a big or little splash, below are some tips to make sure that their water adventure is a safe one:
Practically all of these parks offer a season pass, which would provide big savings if swimmers plan on going multiple times this summer. However, before families commit to one park, they should check out multiple ones to see which one is sure to be best for their family.
Check the weather because most water parks do not provide rain out refunds and actually stay open if it is rain only on the forecast but will definitely close if lightning is present.
Avoid going on Saturdays and holidays if possible due to both higher prices and crowds.
Measure the kids’ heights before going because most slides and major attractions have height requirements just like theme parks.
Do not forget to apply sunblock multiple times throughout the day and even wear a shirt or cover-up to avoid sunburn.
Although most parks do not allow people to bring in coolers, many have picnic areas outside for guests to have picnics.
Bring a friend because no one should never swim alone.
Some water parks require swim tests before kids are allowed on the bigger slides.
Heather Gausline Tate is a free-lance writer, English tutor, and travel agent. She lives in Guntown with her husband Logan and their two boys London and Christian who will be experiencing their first water park this summer!