Updated: Mar 27
When Aquatica opened in 2008 it was the most amazing water park around Central Florida. For years this was our favorite go to summer spot. Now that we have grown, and given the other water parks a try, we are coming back to see how it is in 2022.
While my kids were growing up we frequented Aquatica once a month with our annual passes.
2008 was the year we bought our house and purchased our Sea World Aquatica combo passes. As long as we went more than 3 times it paid for itself. All I needed was $20.00 for gas and some combination of a food plan – either a dining deal pass or we were sneaking in some sandwiches. We got our money's worth and then some. We LOVED the water park circuit in the summers. We’d always go to Wet n Wild with our end of the school year passes, and always go to Aquatica a few times. An hour away, it was worth the drive.
When Aquatica opened it was sooooo fresh and clean. The music and Australian voice over announcing through out the day was like being in a remote location. Water slides, pools, lazy rivers, and raft rides were my whole vision. I wanted to see as many sea life species as possible while I was at it. The commersom dolphins which live in the tank by the clear slides and lazy river are fun to watch. Aquariums and animal habitats filled with colorful fish swimming and living their best life are the signature of the Sea World chain. I love how they sprinkle in the aquariums and viewpoints to keep you feeling like you are one with the water.
Aquatica was the classy water park day option. Warm heated water, great lazy rivers where you could float or get pushed along all day, wave pools to near drown in (kidding, but it did get rough in there sometimes) But really what kept us coming back was the mix of ride options. Family raft rides, two people tube slides, mat racer slides, and swirly sit and cross your legs while plunging to the pool rides. Also two great play zones good for smaller kids, or parents who needed a break, or even middle aged kids who just wanted to be carefree little kids again. It brings out the best in everyone. The whole day adventure: When we left we always wanted one more ride! A total of 42 slides, rivers and lagoons and 84,000 square feet of sparkling white, sandy beaches to play in all day can keep you entertained.
And now - it's the same adventure with a little more wear and tear.
It's still classy. It's still clean. It's still playing those feel good upbeat songs.
Our recent trip was on a Saturday.
This breaks my own rule of try to avoid tourist locations on the weekend when traffic is the busiest.
And it did get busy as the day went on.
Park hours on our day were 9 am - 8 pm.
I planned to be there at opening and leave earlier in time to go to dinner in the area.
We were pulling up closer to 9:40 and met with a long line to get into the entrance.
Parking was a steep $30.00.
Our spots were pretty far from the entrance.
We pushed in our stroller, diaper bag and each of us carried a towel and refillable water cup.
They advertise that they do not allow coolers, however once inside I saw a few people with small soft sided coolers.
The security check point looks through your bags, checking for safety.
If you have no bags you walk straight through.
The turn style entry way is for people who already have a printed ticket of pass.
There are kiosks for people to pull up their tickets if needed on the sides.
We needed to go to customer service as I left our printed tickets home and couldn't find the email confirmation.
Customer service was only about 5 people ahead of us and the line moved quickly.
With in a few minutes we were walking in the park!
Security line.... The lazy river over pass... Water slide fun!
You are permitted to bring in water, and refillable yeti style cups or items for your baby. In our baby bag we had a plastic container with cut up fruit for all of us to enjoy. We also had some granola bars in our pockets. I will commit to eating lunch in the park, but surely don’t want to spend all day dealing with the dining options which are slow and not that great. They have an all day meal pass, but honestly the lines are so slow and portions not that impressive, for food that is just not delicious. You can eat once every 90 minutes. When it takes 20 minutes to get it, and 10 minutes to eat, I am not impressed with the eating time/ riding time ration. I recommend eating breakfast and dinner elsewhere, having lunch on site, and bringing your own snacks.
There is a QR code on the sign in front of the Banana Beach Cook Out to preorder your meal and have it ready with out waiting in that long line. The pickup line is still about 30 minutes long on a weekend. You get the best wifi signal in front of the restaurant so order, and then walk right up to the pick up line. Do not wait for them to text you that your food is ready, it will take a while. When you get to the cashier, give your order number and your food will be made. We made new best friends with the family who was sitting behind us who told us this time saving trick. It worked!
We've eaten at several places in this park. We rate the food a 3/10.
Lockers – are expensive. Like $30.00 a day. They are also a bit inconvenient. Surely there is a better way than locking up all the stuff you need. Leave everything in the car except your towels, no one is stealing towels and dry clothes, at least that’s never been my experience. We wear our phones in waterproof cases around our necks. Or I bring my water camera and one of the boys will put it in their pocket when I can’t carry it. To me this is an extra expense and nothing in my beach bag is really "that" valuable.
A few favorite things about Aquatica:
*There is a lot of shade. Great foliage and tree lined walkways help keep the pavement cool. The landscaping is still kept up with and feels tropical. They even have little foot misters coming off the curbs to help with this. Very considerate. There’s also a lot of places you can sit with either shaded umbrellas, or just shade from the trees. Chairs are pretty much everywhere. Of course the earlier you get there the more likely you are to get a great area to sit in – but in any even you will have some shade at some part of your day.
*Life jackets are available for all, in varied sizes. We bought an extra small for our baby just so she could have her own for multiple reasons, but when we want to grab one we go to the racks.
*There's two lazy river floating options. The classic Logerhead Lane river is perfect for a float and goes pretty slow. The current is not pushing you, although other guests just might. This ride has animal habitats. Roa's Rapids is the River you wear a life jacket and rush through the river with a faster current pushing you along. This ride has lots of water spouts and waterfalls keeping you soaked.
Our favorites aka the don't miss for the bigger crowd:
Ihu’s Breakaway Falls - named after the colorful gecko you may spot in the area, this slide promises the steepest multi-drop tower of its kind in Orlando.
KareKare Curl - the weightless, high-speed water slide requires groups of 2-5 riders.
Omaka Rocka - slip and slide to the extreme on this rocking attraction featuring flumes, funnels, and more.
Riptide Race - the world's tallest dueling racer with 650 feet of slide and lets you challenge friends and family to race to the finish!
Loggerhead Lane - Leisurely lazy river ride where you will see the fish and dolphins.
Reef Plunge - The recent addition to the Aquatica ride family, this immersive water slide is over 330 ft of translucent cutouts and rings. Cruise past Commerson’s dolphins, leopard sharks, fish, and more! ** This line is long!
Also don't miss:
Dolphins - training at 4:45 dolphins flip and swim
Underwater viewer, we’re able to watch the amazing creatures swimming underwater and making their way to the glass where people are there ready to see them.
Our favorite family ride: Walhalla Wave. This raft ride swishes and swashes all around. Definitely a fun twisty turvy ride.
Our favorite slide: Breakaway Falls. This one has the trap door bottom that drops you out of the floor into your twisty slide to the bottom. Lots of water in your face and you can't open your eyes. One of the more thrilling rides you can get on!
Two wave pools are also available. One is Cutback Cove, where the waves are always rolling. At Big Surf Shores, the surf can be high or slow and easy, depends on how they set the day up. They also advertise as one always being on and the other being seasonal, most of the times we've been there they are both in action.
Get a good seat centrally located, with shade. The park is well designed so you are never too far from desired rides but it's nice to have a good meeting point for a bigger family.
If it’s rains go to the Guest Relations before leaving and exchange your tickets for a Sunny Day Pass. There are some requirements to be eligible. But this is a great thing to be able to take advantage of.
Taumata Racer - The mat racer ride is awesome! Line up the family and see who gets to the bottom first.
Buy your tickets when they are on sale.
Aquatica typically has good deals.
The week of the 4th of July passes were 50% off, now this is a great price, and you have to book your dates when you buy your pass, but it's worth this rate. I only wish we had been able to swing it during the week, but work schedules didn't permit.
Our Baby (10 months) - Had an amazing day! Between Walkabout Waters, which has soooo much to see and do, and Kookaburra's she rode slides and swam for hours. We took her in the wave pools and Loggerhead Lane. She was very happy and loves the water. Also staff were fun and really took an interest. This water park is fun for fun people of all ages.
Cabana or no?
Cabanas come with:
-Rental Towels, Locker, and Ceiling Fan
-Refrigerator Stocked with 12 Complimentary Bottles of Water
-20% off Merchandise
-Pass Members receive year-round discount
-In-Cabana Food & Beverage Service, they will deliver your food!
*If you are traveling with older guests, or younger guests this is a good option to take advantage of.
Quick Queue options are $49.99 or $59.99/ day and only worth it if it's very busy on the one time you will be here. There are a few rides with long lines, but there are not that many over an hour I'd be willing to pay for this feature, especially not considering I travel with a whole family!
There are some food variety options as well as Dippin Dots and Kona Ice in the park.
Papa’s Cantina - cheesy empanadas, boneless wings, and more.
Waterstone Grill - fish sandwich, Mediterranean salad, chicken Caesar salad
Motu’s Beach Bar - full-service bar serving mango margaritas, daiquiris, and pina coladas.
Banana Beach Cookout - Ribs, chicken, burgers, and pulled pork.
Mango Market - bbq chicken fries, hot dogs, chicken tenders and humus wraps
While gift shops and souvenirs are available, they are going to cost more than your average item down the street. Here are a few things you may want to bring in with you to avoid spending extra cash.
Towels - 1 per person
Sunscreen / Sun hat (I use pure zinc as it is free of harmful chemicals which can cause cancer when baked in to your skin!)
Water bottle (there are refillable water fountains at the drink counters)
Water shoes/ slides/ flip flops
Goggles (if the chlorine will aggravate you)
*Aquatica does have showers, so if you plan on washing up before heading out, plan to have your dry clothes/ or toiletries with you.
Other amenities for purchase include a photo key pass, strollers, and electric wheel chairs.
You may also see the premium seating loungers with the attached shade canopy located in the beach area near Big Surf wave pool. These are available for those planning on sitting or lounging in this area for a while. We typically don't stay in one place long enough to use these extras.
We were EZpay Pass Members for many years. Although we are not anymore because summers we've been venturing out more and as the kids get older it is harder to get everyone together. However, being an EZpay pass member comes with benefits such as a free pass for a guest, a once per day Quick Queue for one ride, discounts on food and other purchases, and free preferred parking.
Affordabilty Meter: 5/10
On a scale of 1-10 how affordable is this day?
Variables: How far did you travel to get there/ food & drink choices/ Ways to budget
*Purchasing these tickets at half price definitely encouraged me to visit this water park over other options.
*Food is expensive and not that great, find creative ways to minimize having to eat in the park.
*Skip the locker and extras
*I appreciate the longer hours that do allow for you to hit most of your goals for the day.
*It really is pretty, clean, and upbeat. Good music and great vibes make everything a bit better.
*The water is warm! And it's shadier than other water parks, limiting sun burn and allowing for a longer stay.
*Lots of shade - thank you !!
The map of the park:
On the day we went in July, we splashed and played then stopped for lunch at 1:20. We were done with the eating/ lunch process by 2:30. I took the baby around the Loggerhead Lane a few times hoping she would take a nap, she was so tired. That gave her mama and uncles some times on the bigger rides and slides. We were having too much fun in the lazy river and she was about to doze off several times then a splash would excite her. I walked her in the stroller until she napped. My daughter got some fun ride time with her brothers while I took pictures and relaxed a bit. I was happy on baby duty. My little buddy and I went in the "baby area" which is a world class water play ground with slides, climbing and pools to enjoy. A thunder and lightning storm popped up about 6:45 and they closed the rides. All of the guests ran to the parking lot to exit. It was a complete downpour! At this time, I spotted the most amazing dolphin show put on without any prompting flipping and backflipping in their habitat. As if they danced in the rain and I stood there as the masses ran by to their cars. WOW! Loved this.
We didn't take advantage of the sunny day guarantee just because of the sudden bad weather and we'd already spent longer than planned in the park.
Each day comes with a different vibe but to answer our question: Yes! Aquatica's still got it.
Or if you are looking for a DRY Theme Park, try Disney's Hollywood Studios!
Where ever your travels take you remember to stay present.
People are more important than things
Time is also more important than things
Use your time wisely, aligned with the life you wish to experience
Be flexible with plans that aren't materializing, sometimes there is something better.
Laugh when you can
Dance when it rains
And always thank God for each excursion you return from ❤❤
Be blessed and thank you for sharing the journey with us!
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A note from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip.
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