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Heather Steeves

Heather Steeves tries to do things that are fun -- and only things that are fun. So far that's included stilt walking, roller derby and cross-country road trips in her Saturn.

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Posted: July 15, 2014

Splashtown v. Aquaboggan: Which Saco water park has the best rides, slides, bathrooms

Written by: Heather Steeves
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These are the new rides at Splashtown. Two of them are terrifying – if only for the mind games they play on you.

Portland Road in Saco has a drive-in, a KOA campground, a driving range, bowling lanes, a movie theater, mini golf, ice cream stands and TWO water parks. It begs the questions: Which one should I go to? Which one has better rides? Is Splashtown worth the extra money?

It required a lot of research — namely riding almost every ride in each park — but I’ve dug up the answers for you. I visited both of the parks on a Monday when meteorologists predicted thunderstorms, but the sky said otherwise — meaning perfect conditions, great weather with reduced crowds (keep this in mind when you read the waiting line time estimates, as I’m sure you should double or triple them for a hot Saturday).

Aquaboggan

$20 adults ($12 Mondays), $16 kids, $5 toddlers | 7 slides | Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | aquabogganwaterpark.com

If I had kids ages toddler to 10, I’d go here. It’s cheaper. It has the basic slides. It has one that will make you scream your guts out, but overall this park is for people who want leisurely (not super scary) rides. It has a wave pool, kiddie pools and the extra$ like go carts, spinning bumper boats and mini golf.

Lunch will cost you $10 (cash only) a person for a cheeseburger and waffle fries (you can pack a picnic). The bathrooms are clean. But you want to know about the rides.

Top 3 Aquaboggan rides

1. Stealth: This is the only scary ride at Aquaboggan. I screamed so loud I literally gave myself a headache. Instantly. It was the loudest I screamed on any ride at either park (although I didn’t ride what’s perhaps the scariest ride at Splashtown). This ride is shaped like a hammock [from hell]. What’s scary about this one is that sliders have a four-story drop, then they shoot up the other side and fall the same four stories, backward. But the entire time the side of the slide is open – no tunnel, no high-sides to keep you feeling safe and secured. It seems that you could shoot off the slide, which is why it’s so scary. Lines are about 15-20 minutes.
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2. Totally Tubular: This is a basic tube ride, but it’s fun and you’ll end up spinning backward. It will rock you high on the sides of the open tunnel — so much so that I saw one teenager fall off his tube. It’s the most fun, so, of course, it has one of the longer lines in this park (10-15 minutes).

3. Aquasaucer: I wasn’t allowed on this. It’s for kids only. But it looks the most fun ever. It’s a huge balloon that kids climb up with ropes, then bounce down into a pool. So jealous. Lines: about 10 minutes.

Aside from the traditional slides, Aquaboggan has a wave pool, which has continuous waves (no big ones) and a deep section for good swimmers. It has kiddie pools and splashing areas for little kids.

Now let’s go two miles down the road:

Splashtown

$25 adults (for $11 more you can go to Funtown too), $20 kids, free for toddlers | 12 slides (plus 3 in little kids area) | Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | funtownusa.com

I’d say Splashtown is best for teenagers and patient, thrill-seeking adults. You need patience and courage to get the most out of this park. The rides are taller and scarier than Aquaboggan’s. There’s lots of food variety including Dippin Dots, cotton candy and fried fish (a burger and fries will cost you about $10). Splashtown has beer. Don’t count on the bathrooms being pristine. And of course, Funtown is next door if you want to ride the rollercoaster. As for the slides:

Top 3 Splashtown rides


1. Triton’s Twist and Poseidon’s Plunge: These are two newer slides to the park and they will mess with your mind. I went up the five stories of steps several times and there was never a line longer than about seven people. Here’s why: You go up the steps and watch people in front of you one by one get locked into a capsule. You climb in, the clear door slams shut, the lifeguard locks you in, then a lady robot voice loudly counts down THREE – TWO – ONE and then the floor drops out from under your feet. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been standing five stories above the ground and had the floor drop out from beneath you before, but it’s terrifying. If this ride were one of those open-air tubes without the scary robot lady counting you down and the locked-into-a-capsule floorless-drop thing, it wouldn’t be that bad. As I said, this slide messes with your mind more than anything else — although the 40-feet-per-second drop will make your belly flop. A downslide to these two slides is that so much water comes toward your face that you can’t open your eyes (at least if you wear contacts, you can’t). I did the Triton’s Twist (A short drop, then lots of fast but flat loops) and after 4 hours in water parks decided I didn’t have to do the terrifying-looking Poseidon’s Plunge (straight drop). I screamed pretty loud on the Twist, but not as loudly as I did at Aquaboggan’s Stealth. Lines were 0-5 minutes.

2. Splish: This is an old favorite of mine. It’s a full tube and it’s totally black. If you keep your eyes open you will see nothing. No steep drops, nothing super scary, but there are sharp turns and you never see them coming. I smile like a goober whenever I’m on this ride. And it’s the only slide in either park that I rode twice. Lines were about 5-10 minutes.

Tornado

Tornado

 

3. Tornado: This is a two- to four-person ride, making it good if you go with a bunch of friends/family. Lines are long. You get on a four-person tube and go into a big, dark tunnel. Inside the tunnel, you drop and then go up the other side of the open funnel (much like Stealth at Aquaboggan, but with the containment that makes this ride less scary). It’s a quick ride. Lines were about 20-30 minutes.

Splashtown doesn’t have anyplace to swim (except the kiddie pool, three feet deep), but has a better food selection. It’s the bigger park and has more choices, but you might have to wait in the lines to get to the rides you want. The park has lots of sunbathing chairs.

 


I’d say if you have just a couple hours and just want fun slides, you should go to Aquaboggan. You’ll be able to ride all the rides in a short time. But if you’re a thrill seeker who craves those high-rides, you’ve got to go to Splashtown. Two different flavors of water parks two miles apart.

To make your money go the farthest, go to Aquaboggin on a Monday ($12 for adults), and at Splashtown stay until 3 p.m. and then upgrade to a combo pass at Funtown for $11 more.

Tips if you go to either park:

  • Even if you’re a good swimmer, you should plug your nose at the end of slides that throttle you into a pool. Water gets in every orifice and chlorine forced down your throat hurts all day.
  • Eavesdrop on the kids in line. You’ll learn which slides are the fastest.
  • Have cash and ibuprofen
  • Either go early (10 a.m.) or late (2 p.m.) to avoid crowds
  • Wear the best-fitting bathing suit in the world because the slides will test it
  • Bring a picnic and your own drinks (no alcohol allowed)
  • Get a locker ($5 at each park) to lock things up
  • When you get scared of a ride, look around you, note the 7-year-olds and then remember that you’re braver than a 7-year-old. Right?
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