We recently came home from the most incredible family holiday in Orlando. You might have seen our day at Discovery Cove already – it’s top of the list for lots of families visiting Florida – but one of our favourite parks of all was a real surprise to us. We’ve visited Orlando previously, and never thought to prioritise Aquatica, and I can’t believe we’d overlooked it. We had the most amazing day – here’s why.
Our trip to Florida was paid for by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and I have been paid for creating my own content about our holiday.
What to do at Aquatica Orlando
Ride Ray Rush
Aquatica’s newest water slide ride, I’d say Ray Rush is the perfect ride for families. It starts as a classic raft ride for up to four people, shooting down a thrilling slide, before ‘landing’ in a giant water basin. Here you slow down momentarily to catch your breath, as you zoom up and down the sides of the bowl, waiting to come to a standstill. But hold onto those handles – before you know it you’re off again, twisting into a tunnel of lights, before splash landing under a waterfall. SO much laughter involved in this one. You need to be over 1m in height for Ray Rush and its sister raft ride Walhalla Wave, so this is probably perfect for families with children over the age of 5 – and we could quite honestly have spent most of the day doing these two rides over and over…
However, even bigger thrills called, and this next one is perfect for teenagers!
Experience the extreme thrill of a sheer drop at Ihu’s Breakaway Falls
You’ll want to see my video of this ride to truly understand it. Ihu’s Breakaway Falls had me terrified for days before we even arrived in Florida! Essentially, you climb to the highest point in the park, where you step into clear pods, facing each other. The doors are closed around you, and the countdown begins. And at the launch command, one of you – the others remain in situ to watch your terror and await their own – literally has the floor pulled out from beneath you as you plunge into darkness and the fastest slide of your life!
Needless to say, my daughter was totally up for it, with no sign of fear at all. Conversely, this was my stance as the voiceover in the queue told me what was going to happen!
And my face as I dropped – I’m known for striking an effective pose on camera, but I can assure you that this was all completely natural!
Of course, this provided my family with much hilarity (I was the first to go – they were laughing on the other side of their faces when it was their turn to choose a pod!) There’s a YouTube video of Jason’s reaction after his first slide, and he didn’t look quite so relaxed!
Of course, the kids loved it – including Evan, who at 11 is new to thrill-seeking – and wanted to go again. Evan even chose to do the sheer drop slide without the pod. I don’t think I could have done that – having the floor disappear is one thing; making the choice to push yourself into thin air is a different ball game entirely! But Jason and I both surprised ourselves by going again with them to try different pods – once we’d caught our breath!
It really is the most adrenalin-fuelled ride of the day, and as you’d expect, there’s a height restriction of 1.2 metres, so this is definitely one for the tweens, teens, and brave parents!
Race each other on Taumata Racer
Taumata Racer has 8 lanes, and at first glance looks incredibly steep. Hold your nerve though, and it’s probably the most fun slide of the the whole park. We rode it 4 times, trying to judge our start times individually so that we might all hit the drop at the same time. The kids went first, launching themselves on their mats into dark tunnels that twisted and turned. I followed next, then a split second later, Jason joined us. Where you start on the placements is never where you finish, so you have to go by the colour of your lane, twisting round the curves of the top part of the slide, then hurtling into the final, open-air drop, where you’ll find out if you’re the winner. (Have a look at my video for a better view of this ride).
This is another ride where you need to be over 1 metre in height (or 42 inches, according to the website), so again, it’s great fun for families.
Spin in Tassie’s Twisters
Another really fun, ‘just the right amount of thrills’ ride is Tassie’s Twisters. I love the rides that I can share with one of my kids, so as Evan and I lowered ourselves into the holes of a double ring, I knew this would be a slide full of screams and giggles. There’s a choice of tubes to slide down, both of which take you into giant bowls where you seem to spin round and round endlessly, before being sucked into the final drop, and the pool below. The speed in that bowl is something else, and it gave us plenty to talk about over dinner that night, as you can see from this picture of Jason and Maddie!
There’s no height restriction as such on Tassie’s Twisters – you just need to be able to hold steady in your ring, but if your child is under 1.2 metres they will be asked to wear a life vest.
What if I just want to chill out at Aquatica?
You might worry that a day at Aquatica will involve too many thrills and spills, and if you’re a thrillseeker, you will absolutely get your fill of screams and shrieks as you hurtle down slides, and through water jets. But if you’re not as full-on as the rest of your family, fear not. You won’t just be left holding the towels. There’s plenty to do that will leave you feeling relaxed, but just as fun-filled as the more extreme people in your party.
Soak up the park in Loggerhead Lane
Getting into your floating ring (there are double rings if you want to share with a younger child) is likely to be the most thrilling part of this ‘lazy river.’ Honestly, we were in stitches watching Jason try to master the technique, as first he fell through his hole, then went in upside down, and finally managed to very nearly lose his shorts jumping in backwards! But once we were all set, Loggerhead Lane was a lovely, gentle cruise around the park, through small water jets, and viewing tunnels were we could admire the fish in the huge aquariums.
We still managed to have a giggle, as all four of us tried to hang on to one another, and push each other under the jets, or into the small rapids that dotted our route. This was one of those rides were I could have quite happily hung out all afternoon in the sun – especially if if I’d had a cocktail in my hand!
Pick up the pace in Roa’s Rapids
If you want a little bit more speed, Roa’s Rapids is where you’ll find it. Another lazy river, this one is much faster, and takes you on tumbles through rapid waters, and bigger jets, as you speed-swim through the various channels. Go left and you avoid the waterfall; but can you actually direct yourself to go left?! We had lots of fun here, and although all my family are strong swimmers, we decided after a couple of trips to put on the life vests provided, just so we could float round and see where the water took us. For Maddie, it took her round again, at least twice, as she claimed she couldn’t manage to swim back in at the exit point. There was a cheeky grin on her face though, so I suspect she just didn’t want to get out!
Is there anything for really small kids to do at Aquatica?
It might seem like Aquatica isn’t for young children, and we only really spent our time on the more extreme rides. However as we walked around the park (several times – it’s really not that big, and you quickly get the lay of the land), I noticed several areas that were great for small kids. We passed a fantastic looking splash park area with all sorts of paddling pools and fountains for kids to play in (see my video for a glimpse of that); and although we didn’t see it, Walkabout Waters looks like a giant climbing frame area, complete with mini slides, and water jets – think soft play with water, and you’re there. There were lots of sunbeds dotted around the edges, and plenty of snack bars and toilets nearby, so I know that when my kids were much smaller, this is where I would have parked myself for the day, to watch them have all the fun!
We did spend some time hanging out at Cutback Cove and Big Surf Shores. These are two giant wave pools, each with its own style of wave, so you can hang out in gentle, rolling waves, or wait to catch a bigger wave in the pool next door. Both pools are bordered by a large, sandy beach area, with plenty of sunbeds, and shady areas for really hot days, so this is the place to come when the kids still want to play, but Mum and Dad need to chill out with a drink.
Chill out to the max with your own private cabana
One thing I would really recommend is booking your own cabana for the day. You can make of Aquatica what you will, and depending on how many adrenalin rides you want to do, it can be good to have a base to come back to, and somewhere to leave your things. The park feels really safe, and there are lockers for valuables, so you could certainly manage with just a sunbed here and there for your towel and essentials, but we loved having the security and privacy of a cabana by the lazy rivers. It guaranteed that we’d always come back to our own towels on our own sunbeds, plus with a locker and fridge of our own, we had somewhere to store everything we needed, including Maddie’s insulin, which needs to be kept cool.
You could also buy into the all-day dining option. This means you can grab food every hour at any of the resort’s restaurants, as well as soft drinks. There’s a great choice of restaurants too – we ate lunch at Banana Beach Cookout, where the ribs were amazing, and the Mac and Cheese was so good I had to go back for seconds! You can buy a range of beers there too, to go with your ribs or pizza – I think Jason was quite relieved to sink into a beer after the challenges of Ihu’s Breakaway Falls!
So next time you’re planning a family holiday in Orlando, don’t push Aquatica down the list. I guarantee it’s one of the most fun days you’ll have on your trip!
Our trip to Florida was paid for by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, and I have been paid for my time in writing this review. However, everything I’ve written is my own opinion, and we truly did have the most amazing day. You can find out more about Aquatica, and book by visiting the website.
If you’re planning a Florida trip:
- Watch our video of the thrills at Aquatica waterpark.
- See all our photos of the animals and coaster action at Busch Gardens.
- Read about our day at Discovery Cove, and what to expect apart from the dolphins.
- See our family review of SeaWorld Orlando.
- All the POV action from our rollercoaster rides at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld.
- See where we thought the best animal interactions in Florida were, in this video.