Water park offers fun close to home
Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure EditorLiving in Central Texas, we are lucky enough to be in the same state as one of the biggest water park attractions in the country Ė Schlitterbahn.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
But because Texas is so big and like a country in itself, Schlitterbahn isnít exactly a trip that can be made every weekend when seeking an escape from the Texas summer sun. (And that could quickly become expensive.)
Luckily, there are a few smaller water parks just short drives away in the cities surrounding Fort Hood, complete with water slides and high-dives. Families can have these smaller water park adventures all in one afternoon and still be home in time to make dinner.
Starting in Killeen, located on Stan Schlueter Loop, is Lionís Park Family Aquatic Center.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Lionís Park water park by my long-time friend, Nicole Crook, and her mother, Barb Krakowiak. We took Nicoleís children, Brayden and Caleb, to the park to check it out and see if itís worth going Ė by the end of the day, we would have Braydenís seal of approval.
After finding a spot under one of the many shaded areas, we spent the entire afternoon being entertained by Brayden, who is about to have his third birthday, while he wore himself out on the kid-friendly water slides and shallow, beach-like pools. He was really getting a kick out of the water guns,
spraying Nicole and I any time we tried to get close enough to talk to him.
There was one water slide in particular that Brayden enjoyed most of all, but it took some coaxing to convince him to be brave enough to go down it. I suppose to a 2-year-old it would look a little menacing. It is dark purple, and even with the sun shining on it, the dark color shades the tube enough so that not very much light makes it into the tunnel.
I ended up going down the purple slide with Brayden a few times before he braved it on his own. Needless to say, I was the oldest person on it.
Nicole and I left the boys with Barb so they could have some pizza from the concession and decided to move on to the more adult-friendly attractions of the park. We made our way over to the giant yellow and blue bowl slide that we had been watching people shoot out of all day.
Weíve all seen the big bowls that museums and theaters have to collect money Ė you put the coin in and it swirls around the bowl like a tornado as it picks up speed before dropping into the tiny hole at the bottom with everyone elseís coins.
That coin-collecting bowl was the inspiration for this water slide, because that is exactly how it works. After Nicole and I climbed more than 90 feet to the top, we looked out over the water park and everyone looked like ants. The lifeguard at the top was monitoring the slide and determining when it was safe for the next person to go down, as she could see when the previous rider dropped out of the giant bowl into its own pool below.
Nicole had already decided that I would go down first, and right before I sat down to go, the lifeguard said, ďJust make sure you keep your chin tucked in when you come out of the tunnel.Ē
I didnít actually take time to think about the lifeguardís tip before I hastily shot myself into the slideís tunnel, but when I came out into the bowl, my body was going so fast that my head flew back, as now it wasnít being guided in a tube anymore. I swirled around the bowl about three times (it felt like 10 times) before dropping out of the bottom of the bowl into the pool.
After scrambling to find my Army baseball cap that came off during the madness, I reoriented myself and found the steps. The lifeguard at the bottom was laughing at me as I came out of the pool and repositioned my cap, because he said with the sounds I was making coming down the slide, he was expecting a 10-year-old girl, not a 23-year-old girl.
It goes without saying that this slide is surprising, but very exciting. Nicole came out of the pool not long after I did, but she was laughing and had the same chin-tucking problem I experienced.
We checked out the three other very tall water slides and the rock climbing wall, where you can drop into a deep pool below it, and then we headed back over to Barb and the boys and had some pizza.
After the break, I turned my attention to the lap pool where there were a bunch of guys doing some acrobatic tricks off of the diving boards. The 25-meter lap pool is half the size of an Olympic pool and has two diving boards that lead into a 12-foot deep end.
We left the park after I snapped some photos of the divers who seemed to have no fear, because Brayden had completely worn himself out. Since it was so close to home, we were all able to make it home in time to take a nap and make dinner.
I will be going back to Lionís Club Family Aquatic Center in the near future, because it wasnít overly crowded or expensive, itís an easy trip and it has Braydenís official ďfun seal.Ē
Going to Lionís Park Family Aquatic Center exceeded my expectations of a water park so close to home. Fort Hood is fortunate to have it around.
Along with Lionís Park, there are a few other water parks that provide close-to-home Family fun.
Check out future Traveling Soldier articles over the summer for a look inside Central Texasí largest water park, Hawaiian Falls Waterpark, in Waco, and also two aquatic attraction in Belton Ė Summer Fun and Belton Lake Outdoor Reacreation Area.
The escape from the heat that Killeenís Lionís Park Family Aquatic Center is something to take advantage of this summer, but make sure you donít plan a picnic with food from home, because they do not allow outside food or drinks. They do, however, offer a variety of refreshments and snacks at their concession, and there are tables outside of the park where your homemade picnic can still happen.
For more information on Killeenís Lionís Park, hours of operation or event scheduling, call or visit their website at 501-7600 or www.killeentexas.gov/index.php?section. To research some of the other parks mentioned, visit their websites at www.hfalls.com/waco, summerfunwaterpark.com or www.hoodmwr.com/lake_activities.htm.