Denver must-do: Water World water park

Water World Denver

Last week when middle daughter Megan and I discussed the fun my husband, Brianna, Patrick, James and I had at Water World in Denver the day before — courtesy free passes from the park to experience "unlimited fun in the sun" — desert-dwelling Megan told me how much she loves Water World. Her pronouncement was based on our (limited) family visits to the massive water park near downtown Denver when she was a kid and visits she made with friends as a teen.

"Preston loves it, too," she said. Which surprised me. Because Preston never lived near Denver and Water World as Megan did growing up. He grew up in another state, in fact.

"Oh, yeah," Megan said. "Preston and his family used to go to Water World all the time when he was a kid. They loved it."

The Water World love from out-of-staters confirmed for me that Water World is indeed a must-see Denver attraction not only for folks who live in Colorado but for visitors from afar, as well.

And how could the massive outdoor play area — a Denver icon since 1979 — not be, considering a description such as this on the Water World website:

Water World, one of America's largest family water parks, is located just 15 minutes north of downtown Denver, Colorado, on 64 beautifully landscaped acres. Since we opened in 1979 with the first two water slides in the state of Colorado, we now boast over 46 water adventures, and have been rated as one of America's top ten water parks by the Travel Channel.

It's also been named by USA Today — more than once — as one of the Top 10 Best Outdoor WaterParks.

With such a high reputation and our memories of previous visits, my family and I were thrilled to spend a sunny Sunday splashing about Water World. The only problem: Where to begin. The place is huge!

water world denver 

We chose to first get our feet wet at the Thunder Bay Wave Pool. Best bet is to rent a tube — $5 for a wristband that gives you tube access all day — rather than brave it on our bellies. And because I don't know how to swim. (Which you need not be able to do at Water World, but... I'm a chicken.)

water world denver

You just get your tube and hop on, James instructed us.

water world denver

Then bob about til the waves begin.

water world denver

Fun, fun, fun!

The wave pool was my personal favorite. Another fave of mine was Lazy River. I truly could have floated about all day.

water world denver 

Brianna and I shared a raft to go through Lost River of the Pharoahs (and had to carry our heavy raft all the way to the top... which was not fun, but there is an option to pay more for "tube valet service" which provides rafts at the top of certain rides).

water world denver 

James, who's far more daring than I, enjoyed some of the more spectacular adventures... with Patrick joining him, too.

White Lightning:

water world denver 

Warp Speed:

water world denver 

And he even attempted surfing on The Wave:


Less daring and younger ones will appreciate the many areas designed to delight and excite on a more tame — less wet in some cases, too — level. There's even a Wally World Tots Area and kiddie-size wave pool.

water world denver 

My photos are few as it's, well, wet around the park so I didn't dare bring my DSLR. And I used my smartphone sparingly for obvious reasons. But trust me: Water World lives up to the "Unlimited Fun Under the Sun" tagline and requires a full day to fit in all the fun to be had. Especially as many folks, young and old, will want to experience their favorites — Pirate's Plunge, Prank Tank and such — more than once.

Planning to spend an entire day at the park is just one of lessons I learned while bopping about Water World in my swimsuit and water shoes. Here a few more:

• Tickets can seem costly, especially for large families, but there are always promotions listed on the website that reduce the admission fee. Plus, when considering the cost covers a full day of fun, it's not an exhorbitant outing.

• There's plenty of free parking that's relatively close to the entrance, so no hike required when arriving or leaving.

• Tube rental — at just $5 — is worth it, even though rented tubes can be used on just 10 of the 46 rides.

• Be sure to wear water shoes or flip flops. They need to be taken off on some rides (primarily those with fiberglass slides) but walking around on the hot cement would be <cuss> without them.

• One perk I loved: You can bring in a picnic and such (beverages must be factory sealed and in plastic bottles). There are numerous covered picnic tables as well as grassy spots to set up "home base" for the gang. Security folks are plentiful so non-valuable items and edibles are safe while the family roams and rides.

• Plus, there are a limited number of cabanas available to rent. They're rather pricey, but for a big group all pitching in together, they'd be perfect for day-long comings, goings, resting, and refreshing.

water world denver

• Pharoah's Feast All You Care To Eat all-day dining is available for those who don't want to pack a picnic or purchase snacks and such from the numerous food and drink spots. It may be worth it if you'll be there all day, considering you can eat lunch and dinner for around $15 per person (check website for exact cost).

• Guest Services offers locker rental (a great idea!) as well as the ability to put funds on wrist bands so there's no need to carry around wet cash for refreshments.

• Speaking of wrist bands, you can come and go from the park if desired throughout the day, as long as wrist bands stay on and you go through the proper (clearly marked) exit when leaving for short periods.

• Another much appreciated feature: There are lots of restrooms. With showers and private changing spaces for easy cleanup when your day of fun is done.

Soaked and satisfied!


8801 N. Pecos St.
Federal Heights, CO 80260

Disclosure: I received free passes to visit the park; opinions and photos are my own.