It was one of those moments when I was trying to figure out how I had gotten into that situation. I don’t like dark, enclosed, cramped spaces. Yet there I was zooming down a pitch-black tunnel trying not to panic. The funny thing was I could hear my seven-year-old son laughing and yelling “Woo-hoo!” in pure joy down below me at the bottom of the slide while I’m trying not to hyperventilate. But when your little boy is unfazed at the scariest water slide you gotta man-up and follow him down. Right?
My wife had a great idea for Christmas this year: instead of buying our kids a bunch of plastic toys that eventually just break or clutter up the house (which they already have too many of anyway) or another electronic device (do they really need another one?), we decided to spend more on memories rather than “stuff.” We still bought our boys several presents each, but their big gift was an “adventure box” filled with pictures of our destination. It went over so well that we probably will make this a new family tradition.
So for this first time the adventure seemed to jump right out at us: Big Splash Adventure indoor water park in French Lick, Indiana. It really was perfect; it’s not too far, it’s something they can enjoy during winter, and it’s reasonably priced. I had heard nothing but good about Big Splash from other friends, so it was an easy sell, but when my wife looked it up online and showed me pictures, she had me at “Lazy River.”
Of course our boys were crazy excited when they opened their adventure box, and they couldn’t wait to go. The trip took us an hour and forty minutes from Owensboro to Big Splash. The coolest thing about it was driving into French Lick and seeing the huge, glass dome perched right on top of the highest hill. It literally overlooks the entire town.
As soon as we walked into the indoor water park we forgot how cold it was outside. The atrium was warm and the water was heated perfectly. It wasn’t crowded when we arrived because we got there as soon as it opened, but by noon they had reached capacity. So tip #1 is to arrive early or show up late in the day when the crowd thins out.
But honestly, even at capacity it didn’t feel too crowded because at 40,000 sq. ft., there are enough areas to keep everybody entertained. The first thing you see is the three-story “Buccaneer Bay” play structure. You know the gigantic bucket thingy at Splashin’ Safari (Holiday World) that fills up with water and dumps all over everyone within a 50 ft. radius? Yeah, they’ve got one. There are two water slides off Buccaneer Bay, sort of like the bunny slope slides.
The big water slides are up a 40 ft. tower in the back of the building. Two are inner tube slides and two are body slides. All four empty into the same splash pool. “Black Bear’s Revenge” is the big kahuna – it spirals you into a big bowl, spins you around, and then shoots you backward into the second leg of the slide. My braver-than-me-seven-year-old rode it repeatedly.
To the left of Buccaneer Bay is an 8 in. deep “Splish Splash” pool designed specifically for toddlers. My five-year-old rode the shipwreck slide at least 50 times while smaller toddlers bounced in the tree swing that dipped their toes in the water.
“Lost Treasure Lagoon” features several water basketball goals, a lily pad crossing, and the “vortex,” a rounded-off section that spins you around like a whirlpool.
Any time you need a break, the “Lost River” (lazy river) winds throughout the entire waterpark. For mom and dad, there’s even a 25-person hot tub for adults only.
For lunch, we ordered food at the “Galley Grill” snack bar in the arcade, which is in the foyer between the waterpark and the hotel, but there are also other restaurants inside the adjoining hotel.
Our Big Splash Adventure was epic. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. There are several room options and package deals at the hotel, or you can use the day passes like we did. To start your adventure, go to www.bigsplashadventure.com.