Oklahoma is known for its various weather extremes. Ice and snow, tornadoes, drought, wildfires, and (recently), more earthquakes than any other time in state history are just some of the elements that Oklahomans get to enjoy. As Memorial Day weekend approaches, natives of the Sooner State know that sizzling summer temperatures are right around the corner. With that in mind, here are four water parks to chill you out within two hours’ drive of Tulsa, Ok.
All of the parks listed will be open by Memorial Day weekend at the latest, but always check their website or call to confirm dates, prices, and hours. Bring sunscreen, swim suits, towels, some type of shoes made for slippery surfaces, and cash for lockers, inner tubes, or concessions. Some parks offer lockers, but to be safe, leave valuables at home if possible, as theme parks will not be responsible for lost or stolen items. Also, it is sometimes cheaper to buy your tickets online (only use the park’s official website, as Frontier City’s site has a warning about fraudulent tickets being sold on Ebay and Craigslist). However, expect to pay around $5 for the processing of your online order.
Big Splash Water Park: 4707 E 21st St, Tulsa, OK 918-749-7385
This is the only water park that is located within Tulsa’s city limits. Situated in central Tulsa on the property of Expo Square, this park has many different types of pools, slides, and rides for you and your family to enjoy. Big Splash features “the largest wave pool in the Southwest” at 650,000 gallons, three flume slides, children’s “Little Splash” play areas, activity pool, lazy river, Master Blaster water roller coaster, and the seven-story main attraction (and producer of my childhood nightmares) Silver Bullet, which drops you straight down a 72 foot water slide in about 7 seconds. As their website says, check your shorts before you stand up. Right next to the park there is a hotel called the Inn at Expo Square, Fair Meadows horse race simulcast facility, The Golden Driller statue, and the River Spirit Expo Center.
Opens: May 24
Hours: 10:00am -8:00pm Friday and Saturday, Noon- 6:00pm Sunday, 10:00am-6:00pm weekdays
Admission: children two and under are free;
Daily: ranges from $11.95 (military with I.D.) to $23.95 for Regular Adult General Admission; season “splash pass” is $70 for one, $130 for two, family 4 pack is $260. Monday through Thursday adults can save $5 and juniors (three years old and up but under 48″) can save $8 with a Sprite can promotion. On these days, adults are $18.95 and juniors cost $11.95 if you bring a Sprite can to the gate. Night splash is Friday and Saturday, 4:00pm-8:00pm for $13.95.
Parking: Plenty and Free.
Frontier City: 11501 N I-35 Service Road, Oklahoma City, OK 405-478-2140
Less than an hour and a half from Tulsa, the park would not have made this list until recently. Frontier City has been an Oklahoma City attraction for many years as a Western-themed “dry” amusement park, but recently completed the Wild West Water Works, which opened for the season on May 10. Unlike a traditional water park set-up over many acres, this self-contained park within a park has all of its water-related features in what is noted as “the largest water activity structure in Oklahoma”. Featuring “198 ways to get wet”, including: a 1,000 gallon tipping tank, 8 slides, Renegade Rapids, and Mystery River Log Flume to name a few.
Hours: 30 minutes after park opens until 7:00pm daily.
Admission: Children two years old and under are free
Online $22.99 (under four feet) and $26.99 for adults, plus $5 processing fee per online order
Gate price: $22.99 (military) to $34.99 (adult General Admission). You can also buy a ticket good for one day at Frontier City and one day at White Water Bay (20 minutes away, see below) for $45, and a season pass which is good at both parks for $69.99 + tax. Admission prices also include access to the park’s traditional rides which surround the water structure, various shows, and free concerts (this year includes Tesla, Ted Nugent, Zendaya, All-American Rejects, Three Dog Night and more).
Lodging: Several options within 1 mile
White Water Bay: 3908 W Reno Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 405-943-9687
Also located in Oklahoma City, just down the Turner Turnpike southwest of Tulsa (about 110 miles away). This is the largest water park in the state with over 30 rides and attractions, making it the premiere water park in Oklahoma. Slides are varied and include the Acapulco Cliff Dive, Bermuda Triangle, Mega-Wedgie speed slide (277 feet long, 64 foot free-fall), and the Pipeline Wave. For a tamer time, try the Big Kahuna four-person tube ride, Kid’s Kove, Monsoon Bay Wave Pool, or Shipwreck Island. The variety of things to do at White Water Bay and Frontier City make the combination pass mentioned above a great value.
Opens: May 17 (weekend only); May 23rd every-day season schedule begins.
Hours: May 17, 18, and 23 park closes at 6:00pm, Sunday – Thursday from 10:30am to 7:00pm, Friday and Saturday 10:30am to 8:00pm; some Fridays are “Dive-in Movie” nights, on these days the park is open until 11:00pm (check schedule here).
Admission: Ranges from $22.99 (military) to $34.99 for main gate general admission; season combination pass for White Water Bay and Frontier City is $69.99; one day pass that includes a day at each park is $45.
Sun-N-Fun Waterpark: 8900 Lake Road, Ponca City, OK. 580-762-3331 or 580-763-7617.
The park is located an hour and a half northwest of Tulsa in the small town of Ponca City, right next to Kaw Lake, which offers various water sports and activities. Sun-N-Fun has a River Coaster, a 200,000 gallon wave pool, Blue Banana slide, Challenger (high-speed slide), Twister Slide, Lazy River, a dumping bucket and Kiddie Cove for ages six and under. The park also offers mini golf, a children’s play area with “dry” amusement rides (was closed for renovation, check with park), bumper boats, picnic pavilions, batting cages, and go-karts.
Opens: Memorial Day weekend.
Hours: Monday – Thursday 12:00pm to 7:00pm, Friday and Saturday 12:00pm to 8:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm to 6:00pm
Admission: Water Park: Ranges from $13.95 for adult to $8.50 for children from 2 years old up to 48″, pricing for other activities varies.
Lodging: Available in Ponca City, or camp at the lake.
The author and his family have been to all but one (Ponca City here I come) of these parks, and have a blast each time.