First, I’m going to start with the bigger cities, since most would recognize them right away. The gateway city of St. Louis, which is home to Budweiser & the Arch, has one theme/water park whose name everyone is familiar with, Six Flags. Located in the city of Allenton, which about 15 miles southwest of the suburbs and right off the highway. The only bad thing about the location is the long lines on the off-ramp during the peak season. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor has thrill rides like the rest of the chain but also has a huge 12 acre water park. Like some parks that charge separate rates for each park but they include admission to both areas which is really a sweet deal. The kid’s area has a cool pirate ship theme from the pages of Peter Pan or Pirates of the Caribbean. Some of the coolest adult rides I liked: Tornado, Big Kahuna, Tube Slides and Speed Slides. The Tornado is not for the faint of heart, you’re 7 STORIES up in a four person raft where you get launched into a funnel. It’s exciting the first couple times because you try to see how high you can get up on the sides of this funnel. The other rides are typical of other water parks with 4-6 different slides with various curves and loops. All of them, except for the speed slides, use a 2-4 person raft. The water park is open late may to Labor Day, with ticket prices for adults @ $40, children (3-12) @ $31, and a late afternoon special (after 4pm) of $20.
Kansas City is the other big city here in Missouri and has one small indoor water park (CoCo Key Water Resort) and large outdoor theme/water park (Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun). The smaller one is not all that exciting unless you’re really bored during the winter and want to swim. It’s also very easy to miss since it’s located near a Holiday Inn and not the Clarion (which is what Google Maps still shows it as). They have a small kids area with pool, lazy river with a small pool area, 2 slides that are pitch black when you ride them, and a decent heated pool. Weekday passes are $5 and weekend passes are $15. Again not in the best location or size but if you want a break from the cold then this is a good place.
Now Worlds/Oceans of Fun is definitely fun and on par with Six Flags in St. Louis. They don’t have the crazy Tornado ride but there plenty of slides to try out. The one fun and challenging ride is Buccaneer Bay where you test your seamen skills in a kayak or canoe, the kayak’s are fun but a real challenge since they can tip over easier than the canoe. Their open the same time as Six Flags, the only bummer is the prices. Almost $56 for adults and $35 for kids/seniors to get into both World & Ocean; if just going to the water park then it’s $29 for adults, $16 for kids/seniors, or $18 after 4pm, with parking @ $10.
The food courts at the bigger water parks are good and you have a huge assortment of tasty things to eat and snack on but it’s a little expensive. Best bet for families or groups is to pack a cooler and just have your picnic before you get in or have it after, the reason why is that they don’t allow you to bring in outside food because they want you to pay the higher prices and make them more money.
The last two water parks are around the Springfield area. About 2 hrs North of Springfield, near Lake of the Ozarks State Park, is a little gem of a water park called Big Surf Waterpark. Now, even though it’s located way out of the way and next to a river of all places it has some perks…No smelly, weed, junk infested water (not that the water over there is). Anyways back to the park. They have several rides and all of them are fun; the ones I liked the best were the Space Bowl (like the Tornado but more fun), The Rapids (which is a mini version of a white water experience from a slightly higher elevation), and the Zambezi Falls (which is a huge half pipe). Besides all the water rides it has it has a dry ground area where you can play basketball, volleyball, shuffleboard, pool, and an area for the kids of course. Prices are $25 for adults, $20 for kids, and $14 for seniors. They also have a late afternoon rate (3pm) of $17 for adults, $13 for kids, and $9 for seniors. Excellent food court too.
The last place on my list is White Water in Branson (which is about 1hr south of Springfield). This park is part of the Silver Dollar City theme park complex. This place has a lot of the same rides as the other big parks I’ve visited. Some of the rides I liked were: Kalani Towers, Ohana Falls, and Bermuda Triangle. There is an assortment of things to eat at the food court and are reasonably priced. There’s also these cool poolside picnic retreat areas called Cabanas that are available for rent @ $100 and that’s for the whole day till close. The tickets are $41 for adults, $34 for children, and $28 for seniors.
In my opinion, I liked Oceans of Fun for the big city park because of the difference in the attractions available compared to the Six Flags. The only downside had to pay more for the theme park. I also liked Big Surf and was surprised to find in way out there. Now even though its way out of the way, it offers a less hectic atmosphere compared to the more well known parks that draw huge crowds.