Waterparks: Indoor vs. Outdoor

Top 10 Water Parks in the World
Large high yellow slid pool with transparent water.

The waterpark: a place of heavenly summer entertainment for every child of every age. The huge rushing waterslides and spinning whirlpools couldn’t possibly be duplicated at home. Even the slide a the local recreation center pool appears boring in comparison to those at the water park. Then there were the massive inner tubes that five or six friends could sit on at once, screaming all the way down the Hurricane or Turbo Twister. Ah, those were the days!

When we were kids, there were two types of water parks: the awesome and the lame. Today, as adults, there are two other designations: indoor and outdoor. Leave it to the kiddies to determine whether they are awesome or lame. Let’s take a wee look at the pros and cons of waterparks as they reside indoors or out.

Outdoor Waterparks

Outdoor Waterparks - Boy on top of big slider on water park is ready to slide
Little boy on top of the big slider on water park is ready to slide.


When we think ‘water park’, we usually visualize towering blue waterslides under the blazing sun accompanied by the sounds of laughter and splashing. There is something nostalgic about playing in the water under the sun, at least to the 30-something crowd. Hiking up those winding paths and stairways to the top of the waterslide, slathered in sunscreen, standing in line, waiting for that three-minute thrill ride that ends with a satisfying drop into a deep pool of cool water – it was as if that ritual was a marker of certifiably awesome summer vacation! When we were kids, the outdoor water parks always seemed bigger, brighter, and just better. Of course, today there are also the smaller community water parks geared towards the under-6-crowd. Those are fun if you are under 6.


As parents, there is one huge drawback to outdoor water parks: they are outdoors and therefore slaves to weather. If it’s too cold, the kids will freeze. It is too hot, heatstroke is a serious concern. If the sun is too strong, then sunburns and sunstroke are inevitable. After all, the sun is a lot stronger today than it was when we were kids!

Indoor Waterparks

Indoor Waterpark - Little Girl Sliding Down The Water Slide
Little girl sliding down the water slide and splashing the water.


The most obvious pro for an indoor water park is the absence of weather-related restrictions. No matter what time of year it is, the indoor water park is available for aquatic fun. Are the gray days of November getting everyone down? Head to the indoor waterpark! Snowing? Hailing? Is the UV index pointing at hazardous? The indoor waterpark is a perfect distraction!

There used to be a long-standing assumption that just because a waterpark was out of doors, it would be bigger. Now with the advancement of technology, and more money being spent by vacation resort companies, improved indoor waterparks are popping up all over the place. According to the World Waterpark Association, the US is the single largest market for indoor waterparks, with thousands in existence and dozens opening up every year. Now the indoor ones, both in size and number of individual activities, are eclipsing those outdoor water parks. Indoor water parks also tend to be cleaner and better maintained, simply because they do not suffer abuse from the elements.


The cons of an indoor water park are difficult to list. There is usually a small cost to enter, but the large outdoor waterparks also charge an entry fee. Many indoor water parks are constructed as a part of a vacation resort, which means families staying at the resort will usually have free entry to the waterpark included with their accommodation package. Of course, staying in the same location as the waterpark also means the convenience of being close to home base. Alas, we have hit upon another ‘pro’ to the indoor waterpark. Let’s stop here and conclude the indoor waterpark wins the contest, hands down!

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