TAMPA — Visitors to Adventure Island water park in Tampa are now swimming in the park’s biggest makeover in 30 years.
It has added two new family waterslides, a new tiki bar and snack shack, and a shady beach lounge. There’s even a fresh coat of tropical teal paint on the buildings and a new entrance sign with a fountain.
The park reopened for the season in March, but the improvements weren’t finished. On Wednesday, they showed off the new digs, open just in time for summer vacation season.
“We have a lot of high-thrill rides and we decided we needed to cater to families so they can ride together and experience their first thrills together. These two rides do that perfectly,” said Brandon Thom, vice president of Adventure Island.
Wahoo Remix, formerly known as Wahoo Run, gives two meanings to the word “remix” in retooling the tube slide’s enclosed tunnels that were once dark with synchronized light features. There’s also a new mix of songs, from Dynamite by South Korean boy band BTS to Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer. There are 10 songs in all, so you are likely to hear a different song every time you go down the 600-foot slide.
“That was awesome,” said Peter Lynch, 28, who tested out Wahoo Remix on Wednesday with Kelly Ratajczak, 24, as a perk of being entertainers at Busch Gardens. Lynch ended up riding backward on the raft and chided Ratajczak for getting the better view.
“You didn’t warn me that waterfall was coming up,” he said, “it nailed me.”
There’s no height limit on Wahoo Remix, though kids under 42 inches have to wear a life vest. The huge round rafts can hold up to four adults and a small child.
The new Rapids Racer has a height limit of 42 inches, the size of an average 4-year-old. It can turn into a competition as the two-person rafts race in a side-by-side experience. They pass each other at certain points in the clover leaf-shaped run that spins the riders through what the park claims is “the world’s first dueling saucers” in between tunnels and turns.
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Adventure Island in March opened the new Hang Ten Tiki Bar, its first full-service bar with cocktails, snacks and local craft brews. Its drink list includes a hefty number of rums, 20 in all. Half of them are Florida-made, including Big 5 rum from New Port Richey and Old St. Pete Righteous rum. You can get a “short board” of four shots of any of the rums for $15.99.
The new beach lounge area near the Surfside Cafe is lined with palms and shrubs and trees of various heights to offer shade for dozens of lounge and beach chairs, a couple of hammocks and bench swings.
The park, which opened in 1980 with just a few pools and play areas, now has 10 water slides, two pools, a lazy river and splash play areas on its 30-acre property.
If you go
Adventure Island: The water park across the street from Busch Gardens opens at 10 a.m. daily, closing between 5-7 p.m. depending on the day, at 10001 McKinley Drive, Tampa. $44.99-$55.99, depending on the date. Parking is $30.
No outside food or drinks (other than water) may be taken into the park, nor any personal chairs. There are covered picnic areas just outside the entrance guests can use and return to the park. The park offers free cashless wristbands that can be linked to a credit card or cash. See adventureisland.com for information.