Water sprays from all directions as squealing children dart around colorful, playfully-conceived campuses of cool, catching a blissful break from the sweltering heat.
It’s a scene repeated at the many popular splash parks scattered around the region, though each spot has its own unique way of saturating its eager participants and even unsuspecting onlookers if they aren’t quick on their toes. Found in public parks or developed as stand-alone attractions, these water wonderlands can feel like the place to be on a hot summer day.
Playing in the (water) park
Kids are getting wet and wild at Audubon Zoo’s Cool Zoo. Open daily from 10 a.m., the park is a chance for kids of all ages to run, slide and splash around the jumping water spouts, alligator water slide, a “spider monkey soaker” and giant water-spitting snakes. Spend the day in Cool Zoo for $6 for Audubon Nature Institute members, $8 for non-members. The fee is in addition to normal zoo admission ($12-$17.50, free for members).
With 13 water features, both in-ground and above ground, children 10 and younger can splash around at the Spray Park at Lafreniere Park in Metairie. Open daily from noon to 7 p.m., the cost is $5 per person for a 90-minute session.
On the West Bank, the surf is always up at Bayou Segnette State Park’s wave pool and splash park. Here, you can experience what it’s like to jump or body surf waves at the lifeguard-staffed pool area. The state park is open daily from 6 a.m. Bayou Segnette Wave Pool is $10 per adult and $8 per child for day usage.
Across the lake in Mandeville, Fontainebleau State Park has a splash park with water jets and fountains suitable for the youngest of water babies. Open daily from 6 a.m., admission to the park is $2 per person; free for kids 3 and younger and senior citizens.
Head a little farther on to the Abita Springs Trailhead and Park. Next to the historic pavilion and an eclectic play ground, water jets squirt up from the splash pad. The splash pad is free and open daily from dawn to dusk.
The ‘land of giants’
The largest of its kind and a haven for thrill seekers, the Bayou Blue water park and related Dixie Landin’ amusement park up the highway in Baton Rouge is the king of all splash destinations.
“Many of our attractions in Blue Bayou are considered the largest of their kind in the world, hence the nickname ‘land of the giants’,” said Liz Haynes Harrison, director of media, marketing and entertainment at Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’.
This is one “splash park” that will have kids of all ages revving with intense energy all day long. The “Mambo” in Blue Bayou, the world’s largest upside down water slide, is said to be the tallest and fastest water racer in the world. Then there’s the “Ragin Cajun” in Dixie Landin’, a giant steel looping roller coaster that drops from 14 stories high. But there are also rides in Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’ for those looking for a tamer experience.
“In Blue Bayou we have a lazy river, ‘the Atchafalaya Run,’ and in Dixie Landin’ it would probably be the ‘Manchac Railroad,’ which takes guest on a tour around the park,” Haynes Harrison said of the gentler recommendations.
Blue Bayou has more than 20 water attractions, including water slides that feature twists and turns and one with slides descending into darkness. Dixie Landin’ features 29 rides, including four roller coasters and a kiddie section that has small rides and a “Grand Carousel”.
The attractions at Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’ will be soaking visitors until Labor Day. Blue Bayou is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dixie Landin’ is open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
All of this fun comes at a price, which is gauged by height. Those 48 inches and taller pay $36.99, those under 48 inches pay $29.99 and those under 35 inches get in free. Admission to Dixie Landin’ after 5 p.m. is offered at a reduced fee. Bring a Coca-Cola can and get $5 off admission ticket. If you’re planning to spend multiple days in the park, pay the full daily admission price on your first visit, get your ticket validated, and return the next day at no charge.