Time for a splash

Water parks reopen just as Memorial Day weekend ushers in unofficial start to summer


Tsunami Surge is Hurricane Harbor Chicago’s latest attraction and the world’s tallest water coaster.

Hurricane Harbor Chicago

Thrill-seekers can finally feel that adrenaline rush they’ve been waiting for this summer as water parks begin reopening across Illinois.

Six Flags Great America’s Hurricane Harbor locations in Gurnee and Rockford and Santa’s Village water park Santa Springs reopened Saturday amid a huge easing of pandemic restrictions across the state.

“Memorial Weekend is always the unofficial start of summer here at Six Flags, and we’re so excited to have some splash and some fun,” said Caitlin Kepple, Six Flags’ communications and marketing manager.

This marks the first time Hurricane Harbor Chicago in Gurnee will operate separately from the Six Flags theme park next door — making it the company’s 27th park, with three in Illinois.

The new entrance means visitors can get one-day admission tickets just for the water park.

“We’re really excited for a new way for our guests and new visitors to experience the water parks and theres no better compliment to stand-alone status than adding new attractions,” said Kepple.

Debuting at Gurnee as the water park’s 25th attraction is the Tsunami Surge, the world’s tallest water coaster reaching eight stories and a record-breaking height of 86 feet. Riders will speed through open air slides and enclosed tunnels at over 28 mph, experiencing breathtaking drops and hairpin turns enhanced by AquaLucent visual effects, which add surprise bursts of color and lights to the ride.

“The new Tsunami Surge water coaster is in a class all by itself, defying gravity to blast riders uphill through 950 feet of exhilarating drops, twists and turns,” said Hank Salemi, Six Flags’ park president in a statement.

New at Hurricane Harbor Rockford is Tidal Wave, the Midwest’s first tailspin waterslide where guests can ride waves and slope down turns from 43 feet above the ground.

“Tidal Wave is like nothing our park guests have ever seen before. It will be the ‘must-do’ thrill experience of the summer and one worthy of the Hurricane Harbor name,” Salemi said.

Both water parks will operate at 60% capacity, requiring visitors to wear face masks in restaurants, shops and restrooms. To meet social distancing guidelines, visitors must pre-reserve spots online before visiting each park at https://www.sixflags.com/hurricaneharborchicago/reserve.

“Tickets are as low as $24.99 for Hurricane Harbor Chicago and as low as $19.99 currently

for Hurricane Harbor Rockford. Our season passes are also the lowest price they’ve been in over two decades at $59.99,” Kepple said.

Visitors must be 2021 Great America season pass holders or Six Flags members to access the three parks at no additional separate admissions fee.

Santa’s Village Azoosment Park in East Dundee opened May 8, but Santa Springs, it’s water park, re-opened Saturday for its first full season.

The water park features rentable cabanas at the Harbor Hideaway by the two-story Lighthouse Harbor, and two new three-story and 300-foot long slides — the Caribbean Curl and the Peppermint Twist.

General admission tickets are $27.99; the 2021 Ultimate Experience package is $56.99, and single-day admission for visitors aged 55 and older is $21.99, according to the park’s website.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or at an online discounted price if booked in advance at https://santasvillagedundee.com/plan-your-visit/tickets/.

Deep River Waterpark in Crown Point, Indiana, delayed its reopening to Sunday, following the cold weather across the area on Friday and Saturday. Regular admission tickets purchased online are $27.95 for weekdays and $29.95 for weekends. Tickets bought at the gate are $30.95 on weekdays and $32.95 on weekends. More information on ticket rates or operating hours can be found at: https://www.deepriverwaterpark.com/rates.

Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest waterpark located 45 minutes southwest of Chicago, at 4000 N. Bridge St. in Yorkville, will reopen June 5.

The waterpark will feature a new six-lane mat racing water slide called the Aussie Mat Dash, which is the first Proslide RallyRACER attraction in Illinois and one of three in the world where riders race each other while speeding through spiral slides.

The side-by-side “Three Sisters” waterslides are among the park’s other popular attractions, where riders can experience the feeling of sliding down a mountain.

General admission tickets for adults, and children over 42 inches in height, are $34.99, while tickets for those below that height marker start at $19.99.

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