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World's 12 best water parks

Tamara Hinson | 8/1/2013, 9:16 a.m.
Inside Beijing's National Aquatics Center, this is Beijing's most popular tourist attraction. It's China's second most popular tourist attraction after the Great Wall. whitewaterwest.com

Tropical Islands (Krausnick, Germany)

Housed inside the largest free-standing hall in the world -- the structure was originally built as a hangar for dirigibles -- Tropical Islands can accommodate 6,000 visitors a day and has one of the world's largest indoor pools, measuring 656 feet (200 meters) in length.

Away from the water, there's a rainforest with 50,000 plants, a hotel and a nightclub. It's even possible to go for a balloon ride -- all without stepping outside.

Tropical Islands, Tropical-Islands-Allee 1, Germany; +49 35477 605050

Watercube Waterpark (Beijing)

All of the rides at Watercube Waterpark were designed overseas and shipped in.

Highlights include the funnel-shaped Tornado ride, Aqualoop slide and Bulletbowl, where riders shoot down an enclosed slide into a huge bowl.

Visitors should keep an eye out for the enormous jellyfish and clouds of bubbles suspended from the ceiling.

Happy Magic Watercube, Olympic Park, BeiChen Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing; +86 010 8437 2030

WaterWorld Waterpark (Ayia Napa, Cyprus)

Foam parties aren't the only way to cool off in Ayia Napa.

The WaterWorld Water Park has a Grecian theme, with lots of pillars and Trojan horse-shaped monuments.

Poseidon's Wave Pool has Greek ruins, geysers and shipwrecks, the River Odyssey lazy river has crumbling stone pillars and the vertigo-inducing Drop to Atlantis shoots riders out of an enormous Roman temple.

WaterWorld Waterpark, 18 Ayia Thekla Road, Ayia Napa, Cyprus; +357 23 724444

Wet 'n Wild (Orlando, Florida)

Visitors are spoiled for choice at Wet 'n Wild.

In addition to various scream-fest water rides, there's a huge sandcastle-themed children's area (reportedly the largest family water play area in Florida), a wave pool and lazy river.

One the most popular rides is Disco H20. Passengers on this four-person tube ride float along to a soundtrack of 1970s hits accompanied by disco balls and flashing lights.

Wet 'n Wild, 6200 International Drive, Orlando, Florida; +1 407 351 1800

World Waterpark (Alberta, Canada)

Located inside Alberta's West Edmonton Mall, this is the world's second-largest indoor water park and has the world's largest indoor wave pool, with 2.7 million gallons of water.

Attractions include a looping water slide and Blue Thunder, a bungee jump tower suspended over the wave pool.

World Waterpark, 1755, 8882 170 St., Edmonton, Canada; +1 780 444 5313

Yas Waterworld (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Opened in 2013, Yas Waterworld has 43 rides and attractions, including five unique water slides created specially for the park.

These include Dawwama, the world's first hydro-magnetic-powered water slide (the hydro-magnetic technology offers a longer, smoother ride, according to the manufacturer) and the Bandit Bomber, a 1,804-foot-long (550-meter) water coaster.

Visitors can hang ten on the world's largest FlowBarrel surf simulator, or take a spin on Liwa Loop -- the Middle East's only looping water slide.

Yas Waterworld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE; +971 2 414 2000