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Plunge into summer Splashdown: Regional water parks are a great place to have a cool time.

If you're looking for a way to cool off with a splash this summer, there are water rides and amusements to satisfy any thirst for thrills within driving distance of Baltimore.

Torpedo tubes send riders rocketing through tunnels, and high-speed water slides twist and turn to the ultimate splashdown. There are leisurely river float trips, miniature slides and interactive devices that shoot, spray and dump water by the gallons.

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A thrilling new log boat ride at Adventure World in Largo will roar through high-speed channels and a pitch-dark tunnel, plunge passengers backward down hair-raising water chutes, jolt along through camel-hump chutes and spin wildly in a whirlpool before crashing down a heart-stopping plunge and flying out of the mouth of a skull.

Water parks with these and other activities and rides are growing in popularity all over the United States, according to the World Waterpark Association.

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Nationwide there are more than 100 major water parks where visitors can brave the surf in a wave pool, embark on an action- packed whitewater rafting adventure, ride an uphill water coaster or surf on a boogie board in a flow rider. Even traditional theme and amusement parks are getting their feet wet with water rides.

By Memorial Day weekend, most parks with water fun in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey will be open daily. Be sure to call ahead for hours, which can vary daily. And don't forget your bathing suit, sunscreen, water shoes and towel.

Adventure World: The Largo theme and water park will unleash its new Typhoon Sea Coaster, a water-powered super coaster with a thrilling splashdown, probably by next weekend. (The rest of the park will be open this weekend, starting tomorrow.) The coaster is the star feature of a new pirate adventure village in the theme park, Skull Island.

Crocodile Cal's Outback Beach House, a five-story treehouse of interactive water play, also is to open by next weekend. It's the latest addition to Adventure World's 25-acre water-park area, which opens Saturday. The treehouse spouts water from geysers, arch jets, water guns, pump guns, shower bursts, water cannons, water wheels and an eight-foot barrel that dumps 1,000 gallons of water.

Adventure World is in Largo. Take I-695 to I-97 south, then take Exit 7 -- Route 3/301 south -- to Route 214 west. Park is three miles on the right. Admission is $24.99 plus tax. Children under 3 admitted free. Call 301-249-1500.

Chesapeake Beach Water Park: The park was built in 1995 primarily for Calvert County residents. It has eight slides, a dreamland river and an activity pool where children can wrestle an alligator, swim with a serpent and conquer a crab. There's a beach, lagoon, grotto, waterfall, geyser and fountain.

Chesapeake Beach Water Park is in Chesapeake Beach. From I-695 take I-97 south to Route 3/301. Follow 301 into Upper Marlboro. Take Route 4 east and then south. Go about six miles to Route 260; follow for eight miles. Daily operations begin June 7. Admission for noncounty residents is $12 for adults, $10 for children and seniors; for Calvert County residents, it is $8 for adults, $6 for children and seniors; for Chesapeake Beach residents, it is $7 for adults, $6 for children and seniors. Children under 2 admitted free. Call 301-855-8398 or 410-257-1404.

Ocean City: There's plenty of water fun at amusement parks on the bayside in Ocean City near 30th Street and 65th Street. Outside of town, get wet at the Frontier Town Campground on Route 611 three miles south of Route 50.

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Great Adventure: In New Jersey, the Adventure Rivers area at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park has exhilarating water rides that hurtle rafts through tunnels, around curves and through cascading rapids. Don't miss a refreshing flume ride or a boat ride down the raging Congo Rapids. Children will enjoy Koala Canyon, a half-acre of spraying cannons, bubbly fountains, water slides and splashing good fun.

Six Flags is in Jackson, N.J. Take the New Jersey Turnpike to Exit 7A (I-195 east). Go to Six Flags, Exit 16. Admission is $36.55 for adults and $25.95 for children under 54 inches. Children 3 and under admitted free. Call 908-928-1821.

Dorney Park: Have an aqua-blast on a fast-moving water slide or in a wave pool with an ocean of breakers -- two favorite attractions at the Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom amusement and water park in Pennsylvania.

Wildwater River has a wave machine, foggy tunnel, thunder, blowholes, cascading water and fountains. Slide through the twisting tunnel of Lightning Falls or take an inner-tube thrill ride on the rapids and curves of Riptide Run.

For children, there's Lollipop Lagoon, a Kids' Cove interactive area and the Auto Kids Wash with water slides, fountains, water guns, water sprays, mushroom rain umbrellas and an observation deck for parents.

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is in Allentown, Pa. Take I-95 north to I-476 north to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476 north) to Lehigh Valley Exit 33. Take Route 22 east to Route 309 south to Exit 16, Hamilton Boulevard. Follow the signs. Summer season admission is $26.95 for adults, $5.95 for seniors and children ages 4 and older up to 48 inches tall. Children 3 and under admitted free. Call 610-395-3724 or 800-FUN-TIME.

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Hersheypark: Join in this year's 90th anniversary celebration at Hersheypark, where more than 50 rides and attractions include five drenching water rides. Cool off with the Tidal Force splashdown and the Frontier Chute-Out hydroflume. Embark on a whitewater rafting adventure or enjoy a float trip in small log boats.

Hersheypark is in Hershey, Pa. Take I-83 north to Harrisburg area. Take Route 322 east. Follow the signs. Admission is $27.95 for ages 9 through 54 and $15.95 for ages 3 through 8 and for adults 55 and older. Children 2 and under admitted free. Call 800-HERSHEY or 717-534-3090.

Sesame Place: There are 15 water adventures in the Sesame Place theme park for families with children ages 3 through 13. Favorites are the Slimey's Chutes inner tube ride and Sky Splash, a five-story rafting plunge beneath whimsical oversized toys including an eight-foot-tall Rubber Duckie.

Relax on tropical Sesame Island, zip through chutes, shoot down slides, follow a water maze through gently spraying water and take a float trip on a rambling river.

Sesame Place is in Langhorne, Pa. Take I-95 north to Morrisville Exit 29A/Route 1 north to the Oxford Valley exit. Turn right on Oxford Valley Road. Turn right at the third traffic light. Admission is $24.95. Children 2 and under admitted free. Call 215-752-7070.

Paramount's Kings Dominion: The theme park in Virginia has a Hurricane Reef water park with 15 speed slides including the Torrential Twist and Monsoon Chutes. Cascade down Diamond Falls, brave the rapids of White Water Canyon or relax on a raft ride past waterfalls and through geysers.

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For younger children, there's the Splash Island water play area.

Paramount's Kings Dominion is in Doswell, Va. Take I-95 south to Exit 98. Admission is $29.95 and $21.95 for children ages 3 through 6 or under 48 inches tall. Children 2 and under admitted free. Call 804-876-5000.

Water Country USA: Premiering this year at Water Country USA is Aquazoid, an action-packed science-fiction family raft ride that hurtles down a water slide with flashing laser lights and darkened tunnels to splashdown.

With a '50s-'60s surf theme, the park has more than 30 water rides: a giant wave pool, hydrochutes that rocket riders into a splash pool, a water obstacle course and adventure rides through rapids, whirlpools and waterfalls. There are high-speed flumes and a lazy float. Areas for children offer interactive water play.

Water Country USA is in Williamsburg, Va., three miles west of Busch Gardens, which is also owned by Anheuser-Busch Theme Parks and has a few water rides. Take I-95 south, follow the signs for I-64 to Williamsburg and then take Exit 242 off I-64. Admission is $23.50, $15.95 for children ages 3 through 6. Children 2 and under admitted free. Call 757-253-3350.

Pub Date: 5/22/97


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