Cool Off This Summer with These Top Flume and Rapids Rides

June 15, 2015, 6:27 PM · Weekly Top 10: We're just a few days from the start of another summer — so how are you going to keep cool on your next theme park visit? Theme Park Insider readers have ranked these as the Top 10 flume and rapids rides at American theme parks. Next time you're burning in the summer heat, cool down with a ride on one of these top-ranked soakers.

10. Escape from Pompeii
Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Escape from Pompeii

9. American Plunge
Silver Dollar City

American Plunge

8. Daredevil Falls

Daredevil Falls

7. Congo River Rapids
Busch Gardens Tampa

Congo River Rapids

6. Grizzly River Run
Disney California Adventure

Grizzly River Run

5. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls
Universal's Islands of Adventure

Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls

This flume ride sails you through a classic melodrama where the inept Dudley Do-Right of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police tries to save his dear Nell from the clutches of the wicked Snidely Whiplash. Of course, it's Dudley's trusty steed, Horse, who's the brains of the team here, and all ultimately ends well — after a drenching double-dip final drop, of course.

4. Jurassic Park - The Ride
Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal's Islands of Adventure (as Jurassic Park River Adventure)

Jurassic Park - The Ride

We talked last week about what these rides could have been. But what they are today provides plenty of cool fun while you enjoy spending some time with Hollywood's hottest franchise.

3. Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges
Universal's Islands of Adventure

Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

Arch-enemy Bluto is up to no good again on this river rapids ride, and there’s no escaping an underwear-soaking drenching, especially since on-lookers can get in on the action by spraying your raft as it washes past.

2. Splash Mountain
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Disneyland

Splash Mountain

Fans love this musical romp with fun characters, some nifty twists and bumps in the middle of the mountain, and a big, soaking wet, 40-miles-per-hour, 52-foot drop into the Briar Patch.

1. Timber Mountain Log Ride
Knott's Berry Farm

Timber Mountain Log Ride

This Bud Hurlbut classic inspired Disney's Splash Mountain and is enjoying the benefits of a multi-million-dollar 2013 refurbishment that gave it new animatronic characters and show scenes. With just the right mix of show and thrills, you just need to add, well, water to make this perfect attraction for a summer day.

Remember, you can rate any of the rides, shows and restaurants from top theme parks around the world. Just visit our Park Reviews page and click the links of the parks you've visited to get started.

Replies (27)

June 15, 2015 at 6:44 PM · Bilge Rat Barges are definitely my favorite on this list. I love riding with unsuspecting souls who have NO idea just how wet they're gonna get :-).

That being said, my enjoyment of this ride is very much dependent on being able to easily walk back to my room at a Universal resort and get a warm bath and change clothes immediately after 3 or 4 repeat rides. I'd never set foot on a ride like this at Disney since I really don't enjoy being that wet for too long. The hubby and I actually plan which day of our trip will be the "water ride day", so that we dress accordingly (no jeans!) and stack JP, Dudley's and the Barges back to back.

June 15, 2015 at 6:45 PM · Um... Journey to Atlantis? The theming, coaster section, having 3 drops, having at least some sort of storyline means it BLOWS the first 5 on this list out of the water. Errors in the rating system?
June 15, 2015 at 6:58 PM · +1 for Melanie's comment. This is why I love having my hotel within walking distance of the park. Whether it's Universal Orlando or Disneyland, it's great to know that you can enjoy the drenching water rides, then have a fresh, warm, dry change of clothes waiting for you... with a private room to change into them.

Of course, most of the time, I forget to go change and the clothes dry by the time I remember, 'cause I'm having so much fun in the parks. But I love knowing that I *could* go back and change if I wanted to.

June 15, 2015 at 7:16 PM · I have planned park days around "Bilge Rat Barges" many times. The ultimate cool off and the best way to get wet in Orlando.
June 15, 2015 at 7:23 PM · Melanie: That's also how we do Universal's big three water rides. We dress accordingly and do two or three rides on each, and it's an easy cooled off walk back to the hotel. Though we will ride JP River Adventure without our wet gear since you only get half wet on that ride.
June 15, 2015 at 7:37 PM · Heh, Rob, I think a lot depends on when and where you ride JP :-)

I still vividly remember the one year we went to Horror Nights that it was spread over both parks -- we rode JP with one other person. We wisely begged for the back row; he, despite our warnings, took the front. We walked away still comfortable for the rest of the night while he was totally soaked.

Since then, though, every time we've ridden it, regardless of seating, we've gotten pretty soaked. Hubby won't go near it without suitable attire, and after our last couple experiences -- back rows, totally soaked-- I've taken to agreeing with him :-)

June 15, 2015 at 7:38 PM · Just wear board shorts and oiled leather boat shoes. Bring an extra t-shirt perhaps. You'll be dry in under an hour.
June 15, 2015 at 8:16 PM · I can't believe Splash got edged out for the top spot...

As for Popeye and Bluto, that is by far the wettest ride I've ever experienced. They seem to dump 100 gallons of water into your vehicle during that ride. I get pretty soaked even when I wear a poncho!

June 15, 2015 at 9:42 PM · As for Journey to Atlantis (Orlando version), I think that many TPI readers are disappointed with the loss of features and the general level of upkeep on that ride over the years, and have reduced their ratings of it accordingly.
June 15, 2015 at 10:30 PM · Great list with a nice variety of outstanding rides, though I am surprised Splash Mountain got edged out. Timber Mountain Log Ride is an excellent all-around attraction, but I personally feel it isn't great as a water ride since there is very little wetness. Everything else I've ridden that made this list has definite soaking potential, and since I wear quick drying clothing to theme parks that doesn't bother me one bit.

For fun, here's my top ten (including a few not featured on TPI):

1. Splash Mountain (Disneyland)
2. Jurassic Park River Adventure (Universal Studios Hollywood)
3. Flume (Knoebels Amusement Park & Resort)
4. Thunder Falls Log Flume (Funtown Splashtown U.S.A.)
5. Timber Mountain Log Ride (Knott's Berry Farm)
6. Raging River (Great Escape)
7. Daredevil Falls (Dollywood)
8. Policy Pond Saw Mill Log Flume (Canobie Lake Park)
9. Grizzly River Run (Disney California Adventure Park)
10. Log Ride (Castle Amusement Park)

June 16, 2015 at 12:06 AM · My wife and I have reached the age where we no longer have any shame, so we wear ponchos. Yes we look ridiculous, yes we get mistaken for Japanese tourists, but we emerge from the water rides having laughed ourselves silly and yet still having (mostly) dry clothes underneath... :)

June 16, 2015 at 5:59 AM · Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges is the best water ride if you want to get wet...

Rip saw falls and Jurassic river adventure are great also...

Splash mountain (MK) does not get you wet, but it is a nice long ride..SO I guess the AC will cool you off....

June 16, 2015 at 6:20 AM · What about Kali?
June 16, 2015 at 6:33 AM · I would not be surprised if some of the Disney Loyalist here say there is a misting station in MK that is to die for... hahahahahaa....
June 16, 2015 at 7:17 AM · Why go on a water ride if you are going to wear a poncho? If you are afraid of water, do something else.
June 16, 2015 at 9:10 AM · People wear ponchos on water rides because they want to experience the ride itself... The scenery, music, the drops, without getting wet. I dont see anything wrong with that. Anyway, my top ten:

1. Splash Mountain
2. Jurassic Park
3. Journey to Atlantis (Orlando)
4. Journey to Atlantis (San Diego)
5. Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls
6. Popeye
7. Grizzly River Run
8. Journey to Atlantis (San Antonio)
9. Shipwreck Rapids
10. Kali River Rapids

June 16, 2015 at 1:23 PM ·
Brian, you predicted Disney Fan Rage. Well, you're wish is my command.

(Inhales deeply)

Doesn't get you wet?! Splash Mountain doesn't get you wet?! Are we even talking about the same ride here?! Every time I go on that ride I get soaked to my underwear! By the end of the day, my shorts always still feel a little damp! There have been times where I've gotten so wet that if you didn't know any better you would've thought I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on!

(Phew) I rest my case.

Anyway, now that that's done, just wanna say that I agree that Popeye, Dudley and Jurassic Park are the Ultimate Water Ride Trifecta, even though Splash Mountain is better than each of them individually (sorry, Universal fans, ;)you know I had to). Popeye has the benefit of being a River raft ride. I love River rafts cause they're the only ride where you kinda get to know your fellow riders, (key word: kinda) which can often times lead to some priceless reactions! Dudley Do-Right is just a really fun adventure, with hilarious moments galore. The theming is also spectacular, I actually feel like I'm in a cartoon! Though, as I've stated in a previous comments section, it needs some touch-ups. And then there's JP, probably the best of the three! (Even though it gets you the least wet, depending on where you sit.) Just like the film it's based on, it starts off with you seeing the beauty and majesty of the gigantic creatures, but then things get out of hand and now you just wanna get out before you become dinosaur chow!

June 16, 2015 at 2:34 PM · I just can't understand the love for Grizzy River. It's not themed worth a damn--certainly no grizzlies anywhere to be found--and there's no real action. Even the final drop is neutered by the way that the ride "catches" your boat, stopping everything cold, and then releases you into the drop.

Truly among the more disappointing rides at DCA. And yeah, you either don't get wet at all, or you get drenched beyond reason.

June 16, 2015 at 3:17 PM · Of all the circular splash machines (Grizzly, Popeye, Six Flags Roaring Rapids), the Kali River Rapids is the best to me due to the specific theming. I like feeling like I am on a river in India. Otherwise, all of these types are exactly the same. To me, if you have been on one, you have been on them all. I like the unique ones like Splash Mountain (in the dark) and Jurassic (with monsters wanting to eat you). Those last two are also unbelievably great the first time. I wonder if you will get wet on Avatar, or will it be a tame water ride like Pirates?
June 16, 2015 at 3:37 PM · I really love Splash Mtn, but have never gotten terribly wet. I just leave my camera and phone in my pocket, and don't even bother getting a plastic bag from the shop anymore. If I get the front I cover it with my cap. It is true you don't get very wet onTimber Mtn, but it's a great themed ride. Whem I'm at IOA I wear a swim suit if I'm going on their water rides. The amount of water on me after the small drops on Dudley shows remarkable engineering. I once saw what can only be described as a fist of water comi gat my face, and there was mo way to dodge that punch.
June 16, 2015 at 7:16 PM · At first, I wasn't going to do my personal top 10 water rides as I thought I haven't been on enough...until I counted and realized I've been on exactly ten! (Technically eleven if you count this one small flume ride at my local zoo.) So, here's my personal list!

10. Some flume ride who's name I can't remember-Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Aside from Disneyland, this is the one park I've been to outside my native state of Florida. Unfortunately, I can't remember this ride's name to save my life, but that's because it wasn't really memorable. Short and simple, carry you up the lift hill and send you down the drop.

9.Stanley Falls Flume Ride-Busch Gardens Tampa.
I first rode this when I was still too young and too scared to go on all of the big coasters at BGT, so I thought this was the bravest thing ever! It's still a really good ride, but would definitely be higher if it had some theming and a bigger drop than Tanganyika.

8. Tanganyika Tidal Wave-Busch Gardens Tampa.
Of all the rides on the list, this one is the slowest as you spend most of the time drifting through the river and the only drop is the big one at the end. So why is this ahead of Stanley Falls? Because it actually has some theming to it (you float past what appears to be a cave drawing of natives pushing people down the falls...presumably part of some ancient ritual) and the drop is bigger. (Stanley Falls:42 ft. Tanganyika: 55 ft.)

7-Kali River Rapids-Disney's Animal Kingdom.
This ride has better theming than Congo, and gets you just as wet. But this ride is disappointingly short; it ends just as it really starts to get good.

6. Congo River Rapids-Busch Gardens Tampa.
This ride has just about every way to get you wet: drops, rapids, geysers, canons, overhead waterfalls, you name it, they've got it!

5. Journey To Atlantis-SeaWorld Orlando.
Now, this ride does have some pretty big plot holes. (Sir, who are you? How do you know we're trying to get to Atlantis? Who's Elise? Why does he/she/it need to "show us the way?" How'd we get underwater? Why does the mermaid turn into a monster and try to kill us? Details, SeaWorld, details!) Nevertheless, I like it for putting in coaster elements and it's twist ending (when you think it's over, it's not)

4. Popeye and Bludo's Bilge Rat Barges-Universal's Islands of Adventure.
This ride doesn't drench you with water, it ATTACKS you with water! Literally! Aside from the people atop spraying you, Bludo makes multiple attempts on your life that makes you even more soaked! He fires canons, traps you in the most impractical car wash ever, and even more! Trust me, you'll be happy when Popeye gives him what he deserves!

3. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls-Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Great theming, very funny, great little drops to wet your appetite for the big one, and the big one itself is worth it!

2. Jurassic Park River Adventure-use your best guess.
John Williams theme? Dinosaurs? Great climax? Awesome front row? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

1.Splash Mountain-Magic Kingdom.
I'm one of the people who thinks Song of the South isn't racist, and even I think the ride's better! Great characters, great story, great soundtrack, nice animatronics, and a spectacular climax and finale make this not only my favorite water ride in the world, not only my favorite Disney ride in the world, but my favorite ride in the world period.

June 16, 2015 at 7:42 PM · Splash Mountain #2? I've been on Splash and Timber Mountain log Ride both many times and I think SPlash is better. It has more drops and a better story
June 17, 2015 at 7:10 AM · I'm a huge Disney geek and feel that they do virtually everything better than any of their competitors. However, you were correct in placing the Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott's Berry Farm at number one. It's the rare instance where Disney is trumped by another park.
June 17, 2015 at 7:39 AM · I'll echo what Robert said about Journey to Atlantis. I rode it way back in 2003, and it had a lot more effects than it did more recently.

The one that surprised me in terms of getting wet was Dudley Doo Right. I got a little wet on the big hill, then was soaked randomly right before I exited. The worst part was that it was 65 degrees in January. I think it was some sort of water cannon where people can soak you from outside the ride. Is that right?

June 17, 2015 at 8:03 AM · Dan: They do have the water cannons on the bridge overlooking the ending & you will certainly get soaked from a direct hit coming from that direction. I find that I generally get completely soaked three or four times. I love that ride, & the Dudley cartoons throughout bring back some good memories. But when I go in the spring & fall it's generally 85 + degrees, so that helps the enjoyment factor.
June 17, 2015 at 1:15 PM · Last time at USF, rode Jurassic Park and soaked so bad, I had to buy a new T-shirt immediately. Naturally, I decided to avoid the Popeye ride after that, got drenched to my socks the last time I rode it.
June 17, 2015 at 5:18 PM · I'm somewhat surprised that Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride was the top-rated flume or rapid ride on the website. Don't get me wrong-- it's a landmark ride, really well themed with great storytelling, but better than Splash Mountain at nearby Disneyland? If you've never been on either attraction and look at both rides purely objectively, I'd say the quality and variety of animatronics, the detail of the storytelling, and the music of Splash Mountain make it a far better experience than Timber Mountain, and twice as immersive.

I'm guessing that the reason why it rated so highly is because the recent refurbishment by Knott's and Garner Holt took an attraction that had been a longtime favorite and a historic attraction but had seen better days, and made it top-notch again. Adding the historic nature of the ride (first themed flume ride), I think it scored very highly among TPI readers.

But best flume or rapid ride in the world? No way. The "greatest" flume or rapid ride-- I think that could be argued for.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive