Taken on its own merits as a water park, Boomerang Bay at Great America is fantastic and worthy of a hot day. My chief complaint is that this large-scale splash zone is included with admission prices to Great America, so I want to be doing that stuff, too. If you live close enough to Great America to have a season pass, then, by all means, enjoy this hecka fun water park!
I spent about two hours in the far end of California's Great America at Boomerang Bay whooping it up with my older sons (age 8 and 10) and husband. During our visit, we did not get a chance to ride any of the tall waterslides because the lines rivaled those of the roller coasters. We had a fantastic time doing some of the many other watery attractions like these:
- Lazy river. Called Castaway Creek, tubes are required and they are FREE and plentiful. Life jackets are required for those under 48″ if they are not strong swimmers. Totally relaxing.
- Splashy play structure. Called Jackaroo Landing, it is a multi-level water fortress with bridges to cross, stairs and rope ladders to climb, tunnels to hide in, buckets to dump on you, and shooters to spray at your friends. Cap it off with eight kid-friendly smaller water slides and this is just right for brave preschoolers and young grade schoolers (Height Requirement: 36″/44″ for slides).
- A smaller “sprayground” in the same area is called Kookaburra Cay and is a much better bet for your wild toddler or timid preschooler.
- Zero entry tot pool. Called the Boomerang Lagoon, it is the best spot for little ones with a shallow pool with predictable water features. Water gets deep enough to float, but just barely.
- Wave pool. Called Great Barrier Reef, you can enjoy the feeling of waves made by a machine with no sand between your toes surrounded in close proximity by other people and watchful life guards.
Even on a weekday, the lines for the slides were prohibitively long. Consequently, we did not experience firsthand any of these tempting attractions (descriptions from the Boomerang Bay website):
- Didgeridoo Falls. This family waterslide begins high atop a 54-foot platform and sends riders gliding through turns on a four-person raft. Height Requirement: 44″
- Down Under Thunder. The first of its kind in the West, this slide is an unforgettable water adventure! Ride a two-person tube down a chute, and then glide back up a nearly vertical wall before coasting toward the ground. Height Requirement: 44″
- Ripsnort Ridge. This 30-foot tall body water slide sends riders speeding down a 45-degree, fully enclosed chute for a thrilling water adventure. Height Requirement: 48″
- Screamin' Wombat. Twists and serpentine curves await riders on this three-story tall, fully enclosed body water slide that leaves riders screamin’ for more. Height Requirement: 48″
Splitting time between a water park and amusement park at Great America
So, what's the problem?
The only thing I didn't like was that the concrete gets too hot for bare feet. But the real issue with Boomerang Bay is also what's unique about it: this large-scale splash zone is included with admission prices to Great America.
Since CA Great America is about an hour south of Oakland, it is most often done as a superfun daytrip for East Bay kids, right? So, the logistics are complicated enough to make my head spin. Do you split your day between swim suits and roller coasters? Do you head right for Boomerang Bay? Or do you skip the water park entirely? Does one parent run back to the car for swim suits and towels or do you lug them around? What about afterwards, do you leave ASAP or drip your way back through the park? Do you wear your swim suits the whole day? Are locker rentals worth it? Are you already pushing a stroller that can carry the excess baggage of a water park visit? I asked my fleet-footed husband to run back to the car for our gear; is that practical for your group?
If you're a seasonal member, these questions may be a non-issue: Do what you want one day and play it differently the next time. For many of us single-day visitors, it can be a source of parental headaches.
During the hot summer months, the park is open from 10am to 10pm with Boomerang Bay open 11am to 6pm (with reduced hours and random closures on this schedule which you must check before you go). Daily tickets run about $40 with season passes for about twice that.
If we had planned to stay to 10pm, maybe a three hour diversion to the water park would have made a special day even better. Our real-world scenario of hurrying home for preschool pickup meant that we were scrambling to leave from the far side of the amusement park with our towels wrapped around our bodies leaving wet footprints behind us.
All photos taken by Whitney or Heather; all rights reserved; all opinions are our own.