By Elaine Kish
Want to experience what it feels like inside a hurricane or a cyclone? Well, you can do just that at Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort in Erie, Pennsylvania. This indoor water park offers much more than just the normal tipping bucket, water slides and wave pool. With 97,700 square feet and a ceiling reaching 6 1/2 stories high, it is one of the largest water parks in the country. More than 3 million people have visited since its opening in 2003 and it recently placed in the top 10 on the national list of “Top 25 Water Parks” by TripAdvisor. We recently visited Splash Lagoon and were pleasantly surprised with its large variety of activities.
Splash Lagoon has three hotels directly connected to the water park, as well as four additional hotels less than half a mile away with shuttle service provided. On arrival, we were welcomed by David at the front desk as we checked in to the Holiday Inn Express. After a quick trip to check out our room, store our luggage and change into swimsuits, it was off to the water park.
Hard pressed to decide what to try first, the Cyclone was a favorite of all. For one or two riders at a time on an inner tube, they launch through a tube into a bowl of spinning water. After a few trips around, they splash down into a pool below. Another favorite was Hurricane Hole where you will blast down the tube at 40 mph landing in the huge bowl, circling around feet-first before being dropped into the 6-foot deep pool below.
There are five other water slides, each with their own individual appeal. Python Plunge, Shark Attack and Big Kahuna give riders their choice of single or double riders on tubes and body slides going both inside and outside the building before splashing down into a pool. After climbing to the top of the five-story Tiki Tree House which has twelve levels of activities, you can slide back down to land on the Black Hole or the Maui Wowie. The Tiki Tipping Bucket is 48 feet high and dumps 1,000 gallons of water at a time. When the horn sounds, you can hurry to the target area to get drenched or move out of the way to escape the shower.
When it’s time for a little relaxation, grab a tube and get into the Lazy River. While cruising along you are treated to an array of local art, an assortment of fish decked out in various colors. After that you can choose a shower by going under the waterfall or avoid it by going around. Another great area is the Wild Waters Wave Pool. The largest indoor wave pool in the Eastern United States, 200,000 gallons of water provide waves six feet high with six different wave patterns. In the wave pool area is the Aqua Tumbler. A giant rolling ball, riders enter the center of the sphere and attempt to stay upright while maneuvering what seems to be an endless loop. Admission to the water park is required and there is an additional charge for this activity.
In Adventure Bay, guests can test their agility crossing the pool on the lily pads or organize a game of water basketball with friends. Monkey Shines Island is an area for smaller guests to have fun. It has smaller slides, a shallow pool, fountains, water activities and baby swings. Splash Lagoon has a total of three whirlpools. The Frog Pond is open to all ages and kids will enjoy being splashed by the colorful array of “LeapFrog” fountains. The Lava Pool is also a whirlpool for everyone. The third whirlpool, Paradise Code, is a secluded area for adults to have quiet time, away from the rest of the water park. Guests must be 21 and older to enter this area.
Splash Lagoon has several areas adjacent to the water for food and beverages. From full-service dining to a quick snack, from family beverages to adult beverages, there is something for everyone. The Laguna Grill serves an assortment of burgers, chicken fingers, tacos, pizzas, salads, lunch combos with fries and drinks, kids’ meals including the favorite macaroni and cheese, and ice cream novelties. The Sweet Shop offers hand-dipped ice cream cones in an assortment of flavors. The Soggy Dollar Bar offers snacks, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and the Island Oasis Tiki Bar offers alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Another unique feature of Splash Lagoon is the Tree Tops Indoor Rope Course. Open to ages 4 years and older and a minimum of 48” tall, this attraction offers a test of balance as you climb three stories high over the water park below. You can walk a tight rope, balance on the bridges and follow the balance beams. Participants are harnessed and connected to a rail above to prevent falls and enable them to climb to higher levels to attempt the 19 separate challenges. Street clothes and shoes are required for this adventure and although admission to the water park is not necessary to participate, there is a charge which allows climbers 30 minutes of activity. The Treasure Island Family Arcade contains more than 100 games so every member of the family can find their favorite. After some friendly competition, tickets earned can be redeemed for some take-home treasures at the arcade redemption center.
After a full day of water activities, we changed into our clothes and decided to visit Hooch & Blotto’s Sports Bar & Grill for some bowling. Located adjacent to Splash Lagoon and new to the area, this unique establishment is equipped with eight lanes offering several choices of “boutique bowling.” Lanes rent by the hour and are equipped with bumpers if needed for those less proficient in the game. Smaller pins are attached to strings to reset which is a comedy in itself and the balls are smaller and lighter than regular bowling balls, at about the size of a softball. Regular shoes are worn on the lanes and kids are welcome.
We chose to play “YouToons.” Prior to beginning, all players take pictures of themselves at the bowler console. Then, as you bowl you can watch yourself turn into a fun character on the screen, complete with comments about your game. Hooch and Blotto’s has all the amenities of a sports bar. They feature craft beers and a large assortment of food including appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizzas and full entrees. They also have the prerequisite 120” projector screen and 70” and 80” flatscreen TVs for watching the games.
Also adjacent to Splash Lagoon is Northwestern Pennsylvania’s largest Laser Tag facility. Guests must wear dry clothing and proper footwear to participate. All sessions are 10 minutes long and children must be at least 6 years old as they are required to wear a heavy vest to play.
Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort welcomes birthday parties and groups, and a banquet room is available for corporate events. All overnight packages include tickets to the water park and day passes are available.
Our room at the Holiday Inn Express was very clean with comfortable sleeping accommodations for six in two queen-size beds and a pull-out sofa bed. We had an amazing large Jacuzzi tub for a relaxing soak. A full breakfast was included which featured hot foods of eggs, sausage, pancakes, oatmeal and cinnamon rolls, as well as cold cereals, fruit, yogurt, bagels, and pastries.
Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort offers a great winter escape. With so much to offer, once you arrive and check in, you can have an entire weekend of fun without ever having to go outside. For additional information or to make reservations, visit their website at SplashLagoon.com.