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Some Tips for the Would-Be Splashers

August 01, 1987|BOB SIPCHEN

The interaction of water and gravity is alluring to anyone with an adrenal gland, regardless of age. Any self-respecting teen-ager already knows this stuff inside out. Here's a tip sheet for adults.

- Come prepared for swimming, and bring enough sunscreen to endure a day in the sun.

- Parks rent boogie boards, surf boards, inner tubes etc. but none allow you to bring your own.

- All provide free dressing rooms and coin-operated lockers.

- All sell food of various qualities but only two allow you to bring your own.

- Many offer season passes and group discounts.

RAGING WATERS

A park within L.A. County's 2,200-acre Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, Raging Waters meanders through a hillside setting of eucalyptus and native cottonwoods, sycamore and oak. With several large freshwater, sandy bottom pools--one of which has a wave machine--and sand beaches leading up to a boardwalk of surf shops, food concessions and a pinball arcade, the park has a beach town feel. And since it's the closest park to metropolitan Los Angeles, it draws beach-sized crowds.

Almost 500,000 visitors attended last year, and on a seriously busy weekend, it's possible to wait the better part of an hour for a few seconds of sliding. Guys with "Live Fast-Die Young" tattoos and pedicured Valley girls slide side by side, but everyone is apparently so blissed-out on water and velocity they get along just fine.

Adventure Island offers water swings, rope nets and diving areas and the Little Dipper is an imaginative area for kids, with swings and slides and waterfalls. But the pools tend to get chaotic, so parents of young children must be extremely cautious.

Size: 19 "attractions" on 44 acres.

Price: $12.95 adults (anyone over 48 inches tall); $8.95 (children 42-48 inches); $8.95 and $6.95 after 5 p.m.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends; open weekends only Sept. 8 through Oct. 11.

Location: 111 Via Verde, San Dimas (near the intersection of Interstate 10 and the 210 freeways).

Wildest Rides: Skillful riders can get airborne at 25 m.p.h. on the Raging Rocket and Screamer speed slides, and the Dropout affords sliders the unusual sensation of falling seven stories in four seconds.

Miscellaneous: As many as 200 teen-agers in inner tubes shriek and thrash about like sharks in a feeding frenzy weeknights when the park shuts down the wave pool, lowers a screen, and offers "dive-in" screenings of "Jaws."

Information: (714) 592-6453 (recording) or (714) 592-8181.

WILD RIVERS

This place took over the old Lion Country safari site, and continues the African theme with palm-thatched huts and rides like "Nairobi Express" and "Serengetti Surf Hill." Visitors are greeted with rhythmic jungle music and bird sounds, and the winding approach to the 400-foot Congo River Rapids ride features good psych-up music from the Indiana Jones films.

At Thunder Cove, a volcano spews smoke and lava beside two large wave pools. The Pygmy Pond, Typhoon Lagoon and Lake Victoria areas have enough diversions to wear out any kid, and Mombassa Hot Springs affords weary sliders a hot-water soak.

The crowd on a recent afternoon was heavy on local Marines and young surf punks, with lots of young families sprinkled in--and the scrubbed young lifeguard/ride operators have the friendly enthusiasm their neighbors at Disneyland were famous for in the era before the Magic Kingdom's labor problems. Arrive early to stake out a swatch of grass and expect Disneyland-like lines on busy weekends.

Size: 40 water slides and "attractions" on a landscaped 20-acre site.

Price: 12 and older $12.75; 3-11 $9.75; a dry pass is available for $5.50, and after 4 p.m. admission is $6.75.

Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sept. 13; Sept. 19-27, open weekends only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: San Diego Freeway at 8800 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine.

Wildest Rides: The Bombay Blasters, twin underground tubes that terrorize riders then rocket them out three feet above a pool, and the Cobras, a fast, high-banked open flume ride.

Information: (714) 768-9453.

THE OASIS

This is just what you'd expect of a Palm Springs water park: Acres of pale blue water and royal blue indoor-outdoor carpeting float like a liquid island on a sea of desert earth tones. The seven slides offer a good mix of sensations, and splashing down is particularly refreshing in the desert heat. The wave pool has half-hour surfing sessions twice a day and the 650-foot river ride is a good way to vegetate in the sun. Squirt City is not on a par with other parks' kiddy attractions, but Y-people might enjoy the attached Spa and Fitness Center.

Beer and wine are served at the park.

Size: 21 acres, with seven slides and wave pool.

Price: $12.95 adults; children 4-11 $9.95; $6.50 for both groups after 5 p.m.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Labor Day. Weekends only till Sept. 27.

Location: 1500 Gene Autry Trail, (just north of Palm Canyon Drive) Palm Springs.

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