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WET 'N' WILD

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7055 S. Fort Apache Rd.

Las Vegas, NV 89148

702-800-7474

website

$40 Adults

$30 Kids under 42"

Sun-Thu 10am-6pm

Fri-Sat 10am-10pm

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

The city's first water park since the original Wet 'n Wild on The Strip shut down in 2004.

Where is it?

On the west side of Las Vegas, about at 25 minute drive from The Strip depending on traffic.

Is it worth the cost?

At $40 per person for adults and $30 for kids under 42" it's practically a steal for what could be hours of fun for the family.

What else do I need to know?

Parking can be a challenge.

What's the bottom line?

If you have kids in tow and the weather is nice, this place should be high on your list of things to do.

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FULL REVIEW

The original Wet 'n' Wild water park had a pretty sweet location on some of the priciest real estate in the world - the Las Vegas Strip. Opened in 1985, it was located next door to what was then The Sahara (SLS Vegas these days) and across the street from Circus Circus. It was expected to be a huge draw for vacationing families as the city eyed a future as Orlando with slot machines. That family-friendly version of Vegas never materialized and the park was mainly popular with locals.

That closed in 2004 to make way for a massive, water-themed hotel and casino that never materialized and this arid city has been without water-based amusements beyond the hotel pools ever since.

Wet 'n' Wild is back in Las Vegas and although its location on the far west side of town may not be great for tourists, it is great for the city as a whole and for anyone who might have antsy kids itching for something interesting to do.

The mainly residential area in which the park sits is right on the edge of the Red Rock National Conservancy Area, with unobstructed views of the famous red hills that ring the Las Vegas Valley. It seems a bit odd at first to have this candy colored sprawl of splashing here at the footsteps of so much natural beauty but then you realize that this is Vegas and it totally makes sense.

Spread across 41 acres the park has more than two dozen rides and attractions from ones that will make your heart race with terrifying drops to ones that will make it slow down with lazy drifting.

Some of the rides are exclusive to this park. Rattler is a three-person raft slide that drops people through chambers that shake as you pass through; Constrictor is an enclosed slide with what are billed as the tightest and highest banking turns of any water slide in the world, all done in the dark; Canyon Cliffs drops riders from four story platform on a vertical drop at speeds of up to 33 feet per second; and Royal Flush Extreme puts people into a giant bowl that they spin around in as the water flushes into a pool below.

New for 2014 is The Tornado. The only slide of its kind in Nevada, the Tornado is a four-person raft attraction that catapults riders from 36 feet in the air through a 110-foot tunnel before dropping them into the 45-foot-wide funnel where they spin back and forth through swirling water before plummeting into the eye of the storm. As the raft sweeps up the Tornado wall and crosses its centerline, guests experience weightlessness or zero gravity. With their raft almost vertical on the wall, riders report feeling like they are about to tip over, but the curved funnel wall keeps them perfectly safe. After a series of these oscillations, they descend through a tube to the exit pool.

In addition to the adrenaline junky stuff there are also some more tame experiences. A 1,000-foot lazy river ride circles winds in a big loop around the park; a big wave pool provides some ocean like action; and Splash Island is geared toward kids with water cannons, slides, play areas, and a giant 300 gallon bucket that periodically dumps water on everyone underneath.

There are several grassy areas where you can set up your lawn chairs and beach umbrellas or if you feel like going the luxury route you can rent a private cabana. Note that while there are some shaded areas they fill up fast so bring your own or wear lots and lots of sunscreen.

Which brings me to a point about the Las Vegas desert... it gets a bit hot here. The temperature on the day I visited was a toasty 114 degrees, which is just a few degrees shy of the point at which meat begins to cook. I kind of wanted to die after being out in it for a few minutes but the massive crowd creating traffic jams in the lazy river ride and long lines at the slides didn't seem to care at all. Know thyself and pay attention to the weather forecast is my message, I guess.

If you are worried about the aforementioned lines, you can upgrade your pass to one that basically allows you to set an appointment and go play elsewhere until it's your time to go to the front of the line. It's like the Fast Pass system at Disney World only with people in bathing suits.

There are also lockers, a snack bar, a gift shop, a VIP entrance, and more. They have special events frequently including Friday night "Dive 'n' Movies" on a big screen at the end of the wave pool.

It's not cheap - about $40 for anyone over four feet tall - but that's for an all-day, unlimited pass so it works out to something like $2 per ride and that's only if you do each of them only once.

Whether or not it's worth the admission price and the long trek (about 20-30 minutes from The Strip depending on traffic) is probably dependent on how much the children you are traveling with are taking out their boredom on you. That's not to say that adults can't have a good time here, but this is primarily a family attraction so if the hotel pool isn't cutting it, put the kids in their bathing suits and call a cab.

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