It's the end of the summer, school is around the corner, and it's time to take advantage of these last few beautiful, sunny days by doing something fun and different. And there's no better way to do that than to visit a water park. A few area attractions provide cool recreation for different age groups.
Quassy: Safe and Fun with Small Kids
Quassy's Saturation Station is located on Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury. Quassy is a family-owned park, which was purchased by the Frantzis family in 1937, according to Ron Gustafson, director of marketing and public relations.
"Today, two of the park owners are on the property daily, George Frantzis II and Eric Anderson," said Gustafson.
Saturation Station opened in 2003, the Tunnel Twister slides were added in 2006 and more expansion plans are set for the next couple of years.
This amusement park is a good option for parents with small children. The waterscape area has a variety of spraying toys, sprinklers and water slides. Saturation Station is separated from the general rides and has its own lockers ($3), restrooms and changing areas with showers.
The safe environment attracts school groups during the year and camp groups during the summer.
"It's small enough to have independence without being too big to be too much," said Kim Carlone, a sixth grade math teacher who chaperoned a group of students from West Side Middle School.
Adjacent to Saturation Station is Quassy's beach, which is popular with older kids who can swim. The sandy stretch offers several lounge chairs and a roped off swimming area, which is supervised by lifeguards. Paddle boats and pontoon cruises are available at an extra cost.
Guests can bring their own food and picnic in the park or purchase food from the park's several vendors, offering fried dough, pizza and other treats.
There is a $5 parking fee during the week, $6 on weekends. The park does not have a general admission fee, so visitors can just pay for the Saturation Station, which is $12. Tickets can be purchased separately for the rides.
SplashDown: Cool for a Range of Ages
Located in Fishkill, NY, SplashDown is appealing for families with toddlers to teens. Steve Turk bought the park about five years ago and has added a new attraction each year, so now the park is almost double its original size, according to Kyle Carson, marketing director.
"We like to say we're America's biggest little water park," said Carson. "We don't want to have a long wait time, and we want to make sure everyone feels safe and that it's clean."
SplashDown offers several different attractions, including its newest, Bob the Builder Splash Works. This 1,600-square-foot water playscape uses the familiar TV character as its theme, with brightly colored sprinklers, geysers and sprayers cooling off the small visitors.
Other water activities include a huge wave pool, a high-speed water tubing ride, three 300-foot water slides and a lazy river, among others.
SplashDown has an all-included admission fee and charges patrons by height, with 42 inches being the dividing line between the adult $29.99 and the children's $25.99 tickets. There is special pricing for seniors, military and tickets sold after 3pm.
There is no outside food allowed in the park, but visitors may eat outside the park in the picnic area near the parking lot. The park works with Cosimo's to provide its foodservice, with grill and pizza menus.
"We push a healthy lifestyle, making wraps and salads available," said Carson.
Brownstone: Thrilling for Tweens and Teens
Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park is located in Portland, CT. At one time a series of brownstone quarries, this site is now home to a variety of adventurous water sports and activities that will please the older age groups.
The former quarry's steep cliffs provide a perfect launch for jumping and range in height from 5 to 30 feet. Four ziplines vary in length between 500 and 1,000 feet, offering both dry and wet landings. Wakeboarding, including a course of ramps and jumps, is available for every level. Visitors also may bring their own snorkle gear and kayaks or both can be rented on site for an additional cost.
Food may be brought into the park, and there are also food vendors with sandwiches, grilled items, snacks, ice cream and drinks available.
Brownstone has two price points, both of which include life jackets. The least expensive is $18 and allows visitors to swim, kayak, hike or bike on the property. For $28, visitors can also try the zip lines, cliff jumping, inflatables, waterslides and scuba diving. For a real taste of the adventure, click here to see some YouTube videos of Brownstone.
There are a couple of other parks offering water fun in the area. Coco Key in Waterbury is an indoor water park that is open year round. Lake Compounce is located in Bristol and offers an amusement park with several water rides.
With a little planning and preparation, these locations offer families and groups a way to cool off this summer while not traveling too far.