The August long weekend is here and many Ontarians will be looking to do something fun outdoors between now and Monday.
If the weather is good enough, many people will consider heading to the nearest water park or wave pool to cool off.
The cost of going to a water park varies, depending on the amenities available.
A quick survey of prices listed on the websites of more than a dozen province-wide publicly owned and privately run water parks and wave pools shows daily admission fees generally ranging from $15 to $45 a person at larger facilities.
|Park||Location||Admission (Adult, Child)|
|Cedar Park Resort||Bowmanville||$18, $17|
|High Falls Water Park||Bracebridge||$27, $18|
|Roaring Rivers Waterpark||Cobden||$19.50 for both|
|Plunge Blue Mountain||Collingwood||$20, $15|
|Wild Waterworks||Hamilton||$22.35, $14.60|
|Scott Aqua Park||Kingston||$8, $3.35|
|East Park||London||$18, $16|
|Waves Indoor Waterpark||Niagara Falls||$26.95 for both|
|Fallsview Indoor Waterpark||Niagara Falls||$44.95 for both|
|Splash Wave Pool||Ottawa||$7.75, $5.50|
|Calypso Water Park||Ottawa||$35.40, $28.32|
|The Wave Pool||Richmond Hill||$8.50, $5.25|
|Bissell's Hideaway||Ridgeville||$12 for both|
|Canada Games Centre||Thunder Bay||$6.64, $3.10|
|Lake Lisgar Waterpark||Tillsonburg||$6.75, $4|
|Adventure Bay||Windsor||$23, $18|
All of the data cited in the table above came from the official websites of the listed water parks and wave pools. For the purposes of comparison, the listed admission prices are the unreduced fees that an adult and child would pay if no discounts were being offered or available, which would allow them to use all water-related attractions at a facility. In some cases, facilities have separate policies for seniors or infants.
Some city-run facilities have lower fees, though they may not have all the activities available at private parks. And not all are formally classified as water parks, even if they have water slides or a wave pool on site.
Others, like Adventure Bay in the City of Windsor, fall in-between the range of activities available in parks across the province and the admission paid to enjoy them.
The city-run water park opened last year and runs year-round. It has a wave pool, water slides, a lazy river and some elements that officials say are state of the art.
It costs $23 for an adult to spend a full day at Adventure Bay, if that adult is not eligible for a discount, as local residents and low-income families are. Similarly, the unreduced admission price for a child or adult under 42 inches in height is $18.
Jelena Payne, the city's commissioner of community development and health, said Windsor took a detailed look at what other water parks had to offer when setting their prices for visitors and compared that to Adventure Bay.
"We didn't just look at the prices, we also looked at the amenities, we looked at the location, we looked at the size, we looked at the capacity of bathers that we could have," Payne said in a telephone interview.
They saw their pricing as being in line with comparable water parks — an important factor to consider, when families have other choices in a particular region.
"We also consider the U.S. a direct competitor since we're a border city," said Payne.
Short season in the sun
Alon Shatil, the chair of the Canadian committee of the World Waterpark Association, says that a trip to the water park is always a draw when the mercury is on the rise.
On a very hot day, visitors like "cooling down and having fun outside and sort of enjoying the heat, rather than sort of cowering away from it," Shatil said in a recent telephone interview from London, Ont., where he is the general manager of the city's East Park Waterpark.
The outdoor water park season typically lasts 100 days or so in Ontario, Shatil said, usually kicking off at the end of May. It really gets going once kids are out of school and free to spend their days at the park.
But Shatil said it's not just school kids and their families who you'll find floating down a lazy river, or riding the water in a wave pool this summer. He said park operators also see young adults on dates or in groups. There's also the family members that come along with younger visitors.
"It's not about one demographic or another, it's about various ages and sort of physical ability levels enjoying themselves in an outdoor environment," he said.
Stay cool, stay safe
In general, Shatil said a water park differs from a less-equipped facility in terms of the activities it offers and the supervision that is on hand.
Barbara Byers, the public education director for the Lifesaving Society, says that water parks tend to have lifeguards on hand, which is a good thing.
But she told CBC News that doesn't mean that parents should completely let down their guard when they are at water parks with their children.
"They need to be their own child's lifeguard whenever they are anywhere, whether it is a water park, a regular beach, a cottage and so on," Byers said in a telephone interview this week.
Shatil said water parks work hard to ensure their facilities are safe for visitors.
"I think that's what makes it such a draw, that it is a controlled and a safe environment for people to come and have a great day and cool off on a hot day," he said.