Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Splish Splash
Matt Seinberg

I've been promising my daughter Melissa for the last two years to take her to our Long Island waterpark, Splish Splash, and we finally made it this past Friday, on what turned out to be one of the hottest summer days we’ve had so far.

The drive out took us about 50 minutes and we arrived  at 9:50 am. We got a good parking spot in the main lot, close to the entrance and the parking lot exit. We got our tickets, went to the rented locker and put our stuff away.

One mistake that we made, which my wife pointed out to me the day before, was the need for swim shoes. I know the park didn’t require such footwear, but after getting there, I knew it would have been a good idea. Of course, the park sells them at ridiculous prices for people like me that don’t have them.

The walkways are mostly concrete, and many of the parks attractions have wooden stairs leading to the top. So imagine the combination of a very hot sun and delicate feet on those surfaces; sometimes it is not a very pleasant experience. Next time, I’ll bring swim shoes.

I made the mistake many people make, that is, heading for the nearest attraction by the front gate, instead of going to the one furthest away. Of course, we waited on a long line, holding the tubes that the ride needs. 

Waiting, waiting, waiting and finally we make it to the top, and away we go! There are some great turns on the Splash Landing, and we get a nice soaking at the end, which we needed because we were so darn hot! Was a 45- minute wait worth a minute of pleasure?

That ride set the tone for the entire day. The average wait time for those wonderful, wet rides was anywhere from 30-to-60 minutes. For an almost 11-year-old child, that is like forever. For a 50 something year old man with a bad back, call it torture. The only redeeming feature for me was watching some of the skimpy bikinis bounce by.

One of the newer attractions at the park is “Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror.” It opened in 2010, and was in the new area of the park, which was very open, and very clean. Another wait, holding a big yellow, two-person raft happens, going up a big flight of stairs, until we get to the launch area.

Away we go, into a very dark tunnel of terror. Not terrifying, but pretty cool nonetheless. If you’ve ever been on Space Mountain at any of the Disney parks, you know about dark rides. This one is very fast, with some harrowing turns and lots of splashing water.

One thing that these indoor rides are missing is sound effects and music. I understand they are a fast experience, but those two things would add something special to the “scary” experience.

Out of 16 attractions, we managed to get on eight of them. Out of those 16, two were wave pools, and we went in one of them. I’m not going to describe all the rides, but if you go to the Splish Splash website, you can read about them all.

As we are walking around the park, I notice the dirt. There is trash all over the place; mostly empty drink bottles, with food wrappers and other debris as well. The part that disturbed me the most is that I did not see anyone even trying to clean up or remove the trash.

It is now 3:30 pm, and Melissa wants to go on the Lazy River. We are on line, waiting, waiting, waiting for an hour. We finally get a raft, and she is having fun slipping in and out of it. I just want to relax, but I can’t since there is no support for my head to lie back, and if I don’t pay attention, I bump into someone.

About three quarters of the way through, after spinning in circles through what passes for rapids, I don’t feel so well. I’m dizzy and nauseous, hoping not to puke in the water. I manage to hold it down and make it through the ride. It is now 4:45 pm and I am done, as is Melissa. We’re in the car at 5 pm going home.

While there are plenty of lifeguards at the attractions, I did not see one cleaning person the entire time I was there. In a park where at least half the patrons are barefoot, would it not be a good idea to keep it clean? How easy would it be for someone to accidentally step on something, and hurt their foot? That seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen if someone gets seriously hurt.

Having been to many amusement parks in my life, including Disneyland, Disney World and Hershey Park, I know how clean they can be. For a big park like Splish Splash to be this dirty is a disappointment. I went to their website, and navigated to the contact page. There is only a mailing address and phone number, but no email. The same goes for their parent company, Palace Entertainment.

Next week, I’ll compose a letter and mail it to their main headquarters in California. I wonder if I’ll get a response.

For anyone contemplating a visit to their local waterpark, my biggest piece of advice is this; bring your own swim shoes and bottles of water! You’ll thank me for it.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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