What makes a waterpark great? For five years now, we’ve showcased the best of the best in our annual it Book, and one thing is clear: The world’s top waterparks go above and beyond when it comes to amenities, commitment to guest service and theming.

In this year’s installment, top industry experts have ranked their five favorite properties in one of several categories: 

Each expert chose properties for his own reasons, but all operations have consistently shown high levels of excellence. Take a look and see just what “it” is that makes these waterparks and resorts stand out from the crowd.

Top Waterpark Resorts

1.  Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

2.  Chula Vista Resort
Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

3.  Wilderness at the Smokies
Sevierville, Tenn.

4.  Kalahari Waterpark Resort & Convention Center
Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

5.  Grand Harbor Resort
Dubuque, Iowa

Selected by Jeff Coy: I chose resorts with abundant meeting facilities because I think the owner-operators of these meeting resorts are among the smartest in the industry. To achieve the highest possible occupancy, hotels and resorts need to attract a balanced mix of customers from the four major travel segments: individual business, group business (conventions), individual leisure and group leisure (family reunion). Some industry observers will tell you business suits and swimsuits don’t mix. That’s true, but waterpark resorts need them both to achieve maximum potential occupancy.

Top Waterparks | U.S. & Canada


Calypso Waterpark
Limoges, Ontario, Canada

2.  Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort
New Braunfels, Texas

3.  Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
Orlando, Fla.

4.  Soak City
Sandusky, Ohio

5.  Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark
Orlando, Fla.

Selected by David Sangree: In putting together my list of the top five waterparks in North America, I have considered the popularity of the attraction, the variety of rides, the neighborhood around the waterpark, and the geographic location.

Top Waterparks | International

1.  Watercube Waterpark
Beijing, China 

2.  Suraj Water Park
Thane, India 

3.  Sunway Lagoon
Selangor, Malaysia 

4.  Wild Wadi
Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

5.  Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Selected by Dan Martin: This is essentially a list of solid examples of how to do waterparks well and adapt them to circumstances worldwide  ... recognizing that it is the waterpark concept that needs to be adapted to the market it is serving.

Credit: Michael Martin

Top Public Waterparks

1.  Hyland Hills Water World
Federal Heights, Colo. 

2.  Deep River Water Park
Crown Point, Ind. 

3.  NRH2O Family Water Park
North Richland Hills, Texas 

4.  Magic Waters
Cherry Valley, Ill.

5.  Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark
North Charleston, S.C. 

Selected by Bill Haralson: I selected these parks primarily on the basis of attendance, though there are other criteria that could be employed which might result in the selection of different properties.

Top Aquatic Resorts

1.  Gaylord Texan Hotel & Convention Center
Grapevine, Texas 

2.  Laguna Resort & Spa
Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia 

3.  Sidari Water Park Hotel
Sidari, Greece

4.  Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch
San Antonio, Texas 

5.  Grand Wailea
Maui, Hawaii

Selected by Dan Martin: This list was developed by applying the basic concept of “what is a waterpark?” to traditional resort settings in different cultures and different parts of the planet. Many of the properties capture the essence of the local area and operate from the perspective of being a resort with a waterpark, rather than a waterpark with lodging attached.


Jeff Coy is president of JLC Consulting, a research and consulting firm based in Cave Creek, Ariz. Certified by the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, Coy has more than 30 years’ experience in the development, management and marketing of hotels and resorts. He has written for several publications, and in 2001 formed Hotel Waterpark Resort Research & Consulting with Bill Haralson. 

William (Bill) L. Haralson is the principal of William L. Haralson & Associates Inc., which he founded in 1981. The Alto, N.M.-based economics consulting firm specializes in market and financial feasibility studies for waterparks and other types of recreation and entertainment attractions. Since conducting his first water attraction feasibility study, Haralson has conducted nearly 1,000 studies for wave pools, waterparks and hotel/waterpark resorts. Prior to founding WLHA, he worked 10 years for Economics Research Associates. Haralson is a graduate of the University of Missouri. 

David J. Sangree, MAI, CPA, ISHC, is president of Hotel & Leisure Advisors, which is based in Cleveland. He is a hospitality consultant and appraiser specializing in hotels, resorts, waterparks, golf courses, ski resorts and other leisure properties. A member of the Appraisal Institute, a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, Sangree has performed studies on more than 1,000 existing and proposed hotels, waterparks and other leisure properties. A graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, he has appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CNBC, and has written numerous articles. 

Dan Martin is a Chicago-based consultant, managing principal of Market & Feasibility Advisors. He has approximately 25 years of experience with waterparks and leisure-focused aquatics and has been named to Aquatics International’s annual Power 25 list.