Living in Central Florida without a pool in our backyard, we spend pretty much every weekend from March to September at a water park – and luckily, we’re surrounded by them! As well as the Disney water parks, Universal Studios has a brand new water park in Volcano Bay, and we recently checked out the fantastic Legoland water park. But one we’d never tried was Aquatica, so we were pretty excited to finally get the chance to visit. I’d never really known if Aquatica was somewhere that young kids would enjoy and had therefore put off visiting with my 4-year old, Harrison, but I’m happy to say that he had an amazing time and has already begged to go back. Take a look at what we thought of the park, and our recommendations for visiting Aquatica Orlando with young kids.
What to know before you go
Aquatica is owned by Sea World, and is located right next to the Sea World theme park in Orlando. There are a number of ticket options, including single day tickets, park hopper options to include time at Sea World and Discovery Cove, and Annual Passes. As with most theme park tickets, prices will be lower if you buy online before your visit instead of buying at the park itself.
The water park has a number of quick service eateries, as well as table service locations, and plenty of stores to buy souvenirs and other water park necessities. There are lockers available in a few different locations around the park, and free life vests for the little ones. If you’re a nursing mother, then there is an area just for you and baby towards the back of the park next to Kata’s Kookaburra Cove where you can feed your little one in a more quiet and private environment.
Harrison is on the smaller side for his age, and is hovering just above 40 inches. Looking at the height requirements before we visited the park, I was surprised to see that he would be too small for the majority of the slides, as even the gentler ones had a 42 inch height requirement. I was worried that this would mean he would be bored, or be upset that he was seeing all of these cool slides that he couldn’t ride. As it turned out, there were so many other areas for him to play that he didn’t even ask to go on the bigger slides! Close to the park entrance, you can have your child measured and then he or she will be given a corresponding wristband; this eliminates the need for measuring at each slide. Don’t worry if you miss this though (we only noticed it as we were leaving!) – kids can still be measured at each attraction.
Kata’s Kookaburra Cove
This was where we set up camp for the day, and it turned out to be Harrison’s favorite area. Kata’s Kookaburra Cove is for children under 48 inches, and the maximum water depth is just 18 inches in the beach area and 2 feet at the bottom of the slides. It is absolutely perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and younger kids who want to have fun in an area designed just for them, although I saw plenty of babies happily splashing around too. The slides are mostly very gentle, although I would still recommend waiting at the bottom of them since some kids did pick up some speed! Much of the area is comprised of what is essentially a giant splash pad, with areas of shallow water and some smaller play structures. Harrison was content to basically run and splash around in here for over an hour, and loved that the slides were small enough that he could ride alone. There were plenty of lifeguards in the area, bathrooms and lockers very close by, and the nursing mothers area was just a few feet away.
Walkabout Waters is an amazing 60-foot tall water playground that covers over 15,000 square feet! The area is packed full of places to climb, play, and explore, with a huge number of slides for kids of all ages. A key at the entrance color codes the slides by height requirement, and I thought this was awesome; it meant we were able to tell just by looking at the slide if Harrison would be able to ride, before we walked all the way up or across to it. Water pours down on you from just about everywhere on this structure, and you will be soaking wet pretty quickly – oh, and that water was not as warm as the water in the pools! Of course, no awesome water structure would be complete without a giant bucket dumping water on you every few minutes! Harrison really liked this area; he loved the water cannons where you could shoot water at people on the ground, and the slides that were seemingly at every turn. There were lifeguards stationed at each slide that we rode, and I thought that was a great touch to make sure everyone was being safe and the smaller kids weren’t being pushed out of line.
Cutback Cove & Big Surf Shores
Aquatica is unique in that it actually has two wave pools – and they are located side by side! The cool thing about these wave pools is that they offer different types of waves, so you can check out each one to see which one works for you. Cutback Cove has consistently higher waves, so would be perfect for stronger swimmers, and older kids looking for a bigger thrill. Big Surf Shores changes their waves so that sometimes they’re high, and sometimes they’re more gentle, making it a better choice for families with young kids. We tried both pools and while my little daredevil would have been perfectly happy trying to leap over the waves in Cutback Cove, I was much happier with the gentle waves offered at Big Surf Shores! The wave pools can get crowded and it is recommended that weaker swimmers wear a life vest at all times while in the water. Adjacent to the wave pools you have the beach area with space for playing in the sand, so remember to bring a bucket and spade with you!
This was something that we somehow managed to completely miss while we were in the park, and only noticed as we were leaving – but it’s top of my list for things to try next time! Loggerhead Lane is essentially a lazy river where you meander along in a tube, but with Aquatica being a Sea World water park, it has a fun twist. The river takes you through a number of underwater viewing tunnels where you can see a huge variety of tropical fish, and even Commerson’s dolphins! The river looked fantastic, the fish exhibits looked colorful and fun, and I was so annoyed at myself for not noticing that this was here until we were walking out of the park! It will absolutely be the first thing we hit on our next trip!
We really enjoyed our day at Aquatica, and I was definitely pleasantly surprised by how much fun Harrison had. Overall, I would say that a Disney water park has more ride options for kids of his age, but Aquatica had so many other attractions outside of the water slides that he was perfectly happy. If you’re visiting Sea World, I would absolutely recommend adding a day here on to your ticket. Find out more information on the park’s official website here.
Have you visited Aquatica? How did you like the park? Let me know in the comments!
Many thanks to Sea World and Aquatica for hosting us on our visit. As always all opinions are my own.