Wet, watery fun at Wild Island

Luke and Anikin Allen tubing down a water slide. | Michelle Allen

Long summer days outside in the hot sun usually compels us to find ways to cool off. This typically means seeking out water and for most kids a day at the water park is at the top of the list. My son Anikin recommends Wild Island Family Adventure Park in Sparks, Nev. This large water park has exhilarating rides and creative water features for every age.

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During a recent hot spell, my husband Luke and I took Anikin to Wild Island. His excitement kept him up late the night before; he got up early. During the one-hour drive to Sparks from Tahoe City, Anikin could hardly contain himself and became more excited as we got closer.

At the park entrance, we checked Anikin’s height against the measurement chart that denotes the slides he can ride. There are two heights: 42 and 48 inches. Anikin is just over 46 inches, not quite tall enough for the big rides, but he shrugged it off and took off into the park.

Our first stop was the Montego Bay Wave Pool with waves up to 3 feet high. We paid $10 to rent a double tube for the day and hit the pool while the waves were off. We floated around waiting for the waves to start, which proved to be tough for an anxious Anikin. Suddenly, a very loud buzzer went off; all the kids screamed and the waves started.

Luke pushed us past the crashing waves in the shallow end and toward the deeper, bigger waves. There were a lot of people sloshing around in the waves and they had big smiles. Use caution here. Watch out for flailing arms, swinging legs and other sporadic body movements.

The wave pool is a great spot on a hot, summer day. | Michelle Allen

After being jostled in the wave pool, we were eager to ride some water slides. Next ride was Tortuga, Anikin’s favorite. The twists and turns of this open slide pushed the tubes we were riding up the wall right before the next turn. At the bottom, the tube hit the pool and skimmed across the top. We took a couple more laps on Tortuga and the adjoining Fire and Ice body slides before getting in the Bahama Mama River. Anikin soaked himself under the large mushroom waterfall at the beginning of the river as we floated by on our tube.

There are several shady places along the river to hang out at; in the middle is Kokomo’s Island Bar for ages 21 and older.

The river is a refuge from the fast pace of the rest of the park, but relaxation was not on Anikin’s agenda. He headed back to the wave pool. In need of a break from the sun, I skipped this round in the wave pool.

I sat in the shade by the Little Lagoon Kiddie Pool watching the little ones play. It reminded me of Anikin when he was 3 and we brought him to Wild Island for the first time; he was small in size with big energy and enthusiasm. Luke and Anikin soon rejoined me and we took a break for lunch.

Luke and Anikin Allen in Bahama Mama River. | Michelle Allen

After lunch I asked Anikin if he wanted to play in the kiddie pool and he said he was too old for that baby stuff. Instead, he wanted to check out the Scorpion, a four-story half pipe. We watched riders on tubes drop from the top of one side and ride high up the other side. Anikin was afraid he would fall off the side of the half pipe; despite our efforts to reassure him he, he didn’t want to go. Maybe next time he said.

We spent a little time at the Hurricane Cove interactive playhouse, which is equipped with cascading waterfalls, small slides, water cannons and an oversized tipping water bucket. Think playground meets water park. We followed this up with another lap on Tortuga and another lap on Bahama Mama River.

Sun-beaten and waterlogged, we called it a day. A few weeks later Anikin went back with his summer camp group and rode Scorpion with his friend, Aldo Aronhalt. His next goal is to grow 2 more inches so he can ride Eye of the Dragon, a thrilling slide with a 100-foot drop.

I suggest visiting Wild Island this summer before it closes for the season; it’s open from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, and Sept. 8, 14 and 15. The park is also home to Coconut Bowl, a year-round activity center with bowling lanes, outdoor mini golf, video arcade, laser tag, indoor playground, go-karts and more. | wildisland.com