HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

AROUND THE STATE: TOLEDO BEND FAMILY ADVENTURE WATERPARK

by Jeanni Ritchie

This had better be worth it…

That’s what I was telling myself as I neared the 2-hour mark on my destination last Monday. I’d been logging lots of highway miles lately and I was hoping my drive to the Toledo Bend Family Adventure Waterpark in Zwolle would be worth it. Despite growing up in Louisiana, I’d never been to Sabine Parish and my total lack of geography skills had me unsure whether I was north, south, east, or west of Alexandria. Thank heavens for GPS!

On the passenger seat next to me was the bag packed three weeks ago with towels, sunscreen, and a novel I’d picked up six weeks ago at a bookstore and hadn’t had time to read. This would be my third attempt to make it to the park; the first two had been derailed. Worst case scenario was I’d get a chance to read. 

I arrived at opening, eager to stake out a prime lounge chair and happily parked my belongings a few feet from the lazy river with a clear view of the splash pad area. I think splash pads are one of the greatest inventions ever. They are colorful, hyped-up versions of the sprinkler days of my youth. We used to spend hours jumping over that metal sprinkler in the yard that pulsated back and forth to our delighted squeals. Watching the kids today with that same enthusiastic zeal was contagious and I had to join them a few times. We especially loved  standing under the giant bucket of water that would eventually tip onto our heads. 

I lounged in my inner tube around the lazy river a few times, lamenting the amount of Crumbl cookies I’d had lately. Getting in and out of that round red tube was not a pretty sight! But it was heavenly to float down the gently propelled stream of water that never required going back upstream. 

In addition to the main pool were several wading pools of varying depths. I headed to a mostly vacant one, book in hand, when I needed cooling off. Sharing the space with eight-year old Jamie, she practiced laps as I read. In between we talked about sisters, school, and the best ways to spend summer break. 

I knew I had to brave the giant water slides before I left, especially since the kiddie ones had maximum height requirements. If they’d have had maximum FEAR requirements, I’d have qualified. 

I chose the traditional waterslide, not the straight down racing one, after a trek that included scorching my feet on the pavement and three flights of stairs. Walking up with a twelve-year old, I asked how many times she’d been down the slide. 

“About 30,” she replied. I started to ask her if she wanted a job as my personal trainer. 

The slide down was fun though, at a nice pace and with cool water. There had been no wait. 

I jumped on the kangaroo jumper a few times before heading to the Snack Shack for an orange popsicle. Two of my kids had worked the snack shack at the local waterpark when we lived in Muskogee, Oklahoma; we all have such fond memories of our time there. 

The waterpark in Zwolle had the same feel. Family-friendly fun, manageable size for your group, and a variety of pools and slides. It was most definitely worth the drive! 

I stopped by and visited with young golfers on the 18-hole mini-golf course and then drove through the neighboring Wildwood Resort where many of my new waterpark friends were staying. There are a variety of cabins of all sizes to accommodate your family. They even have some if you are a solo adventurer, like me. The resort has its own pool areas, canoes, paddle boats, fishing, and boat launch. 

July 28 is National Waterpark Day.

For more information, visit https://www.wildwood-resort.com/. For more waterpark photos and videos, see https://www.tbfap.com/

Jeanni Ritchie is an annual “summer lovin’ had me a blast” girl who can be reached at jeanniritchie54@gmail.com

 

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