Which Is Better: Water or Dry on a Theme Park Ride?

April 27, 2020, 8:06 PM · Sure, you can watch theme park POV videos all day long while you sit at home. (And it's fun!) But the one thing you'll never get from on-ride videos is that physical feeling you get from the real thing.

That's why so many of us feel so anxious waiting for the parks to reopen. That rush of wind or splash of water across your body on a thrill ride can be amazing, and there's just no at-home substitute for it.

But which do you prefer: the rush of wind or the splash of water? Do you like your theme park rides to run on tracks or in flumes? It's our "which is better" vote for the day — you do prefer water or dry rides?

This isn't just a water parks vs. theme parks question. Believe it or not, a lot of people can spend the day at a water park and not once get wet. (Laying out and drinking are things.) And you can get yourself good and soaked on theme parks' flume and rapids rides. Don't forget the spraygrounds for the kids, either.

I love watching people go on rides such as Disneyland's Splash Mountain, to see them arguing about what they should do to either try to stay dry or to get as wet as possible. If I'm feeling especially evil, I volunteer to sit in front on any single-file log flume ride. Not only do I get the best views throughout the ride, that sets me up to duck underneath the front of the log just before we hit the bottom of the final drop. The sucker behind me who thought they were using me as a shield instead gets the full force of the watery blast. I said it was evil.

Rapids rides that allow people off ride to dump or shoot water onto riders are even better for that type of malicious fun. But many theme park fans welcome the drenching and consider any water ride where they don't get sopping wet to be a failure.

Other fans can't stand the idea of walking around in wet underwear all day. For many fans, it's the speed, thrills, and views on roller coasters and dark rides that makes their day at the park.

Designers are getting more and more creative in finding ways to blur the divisions that once separated dry and wet rides. We've got towering lifts on water rides now, even media in a hybrid log flume/dark ride, too. But maintaining water rides can be expensive, which is part of the reason why the biggest thrills remain on dry, tracked rides.

As with all our "which is better" votes, there is no wrong answer. Which makes the debate fun. It's all your preference. So let's hear your arguments. Cast your vote and join us in the comments to tell us about your best - and worst - experiences.


Replies (15)

April 27, 2020 at 8:39 PM

I find that I have the most fun with friends and family on a water ride. It's exciting because no one knows who's going to get drenched, especially on a rapids ride. However, I find that I have an overall better experience on a roller coaster or flat ride. Water rides can't generate the same excitement when you're looking down the lauchtrack or when you crest over a lift hill. Water rides can't give me the same negative Gs or almost make me black out. It depends on the day, but most times I'll pick a dry ride over a water attraction.

April 27, 2020 at 9:56 PM

i love water rides, but i hate feeling like I'm in a wet diaper for several hours.

Dry rides for the win.

April 27, 2020 at 10:51 PM

When it comes to water rides, it depends a lot on the specific ride. If there's a story component to it, I'll pretty much ride every visit. Lightly themed flume rides I usually will ride as well unless the temperature is cold enough I don't even want to chance getting wet. Rapids rides can be fun with a group, but I rarely ride them alone or unless it's really hot out. The one type of water ride I generally avoid are the simple splash boat rides, and I find them to be not particularly exciting and don't crave being soaked head to toe.

As for the question at hand, I'd probably pick dry ride over water ride since there is far more variety and far less lasting effects from them, but there are certain water rides that outclass many dry rides.

April 28, 2020 at 2:54 AM

I find that setting up a fan to blow in you while watching a POV coaster makes it even more real

April 28, 2020 at 3:03 AM

When the sun has got his hat on it has to be water. Islands of Adventure is the king of water rides of parks I have been to. Love all three.

April 28, 2020 at 3:16 AM

For me, the easiest way for a theme park day to get ruined is wet socks. That's why I take them off when I go on water rides I know I'll get soaked on. Dry rides spare me that chore.

April 28, 2020 at 5:37 AM

I agree with James Trexen...can’t stand having wet feet. So I usually try to bring some crocs to change into for the wet rides. If I don’t have those with me, for whatever reason, then I skip the wet rides. The wet ride I miss the most, is the River Battle at Dollywood, that was so much fun. They have something similar at Legoland California, but I can’t justify using up a day there on a SoCal trip (even if it’s inckuded with the Citypass).

April 28, 2020 at 5:29 AM

On a side note, the “4D or 5D” shows that spray water in your face, I tend to find a little more annoying these days. They were cool when they first came out, but for me that effect has now lost its luster.

April 28, 2020 at 9:53 AM

I absolutely hate getting wet at a theme park and consequently prefer coasters to water rides. My worst experience with a water ride was on Congo Rapids at Six Flags Great Adventure. I got completely soaked, including my shoes and underwear. Because the family dryer outside the ride was out of order (what else is new?, I spent the next hour in the ladies' room in my underwear, desperately trying to dry off with the hand dryers. Never again. And while I got caught in a torrential downpour while riding two coasters - Steel Vengeance and Mako - it was nothing compared with Congo Rapids. I was hesitant to ride Journey to Atlantis at Sea World Orlando for fear of getting wet but wanted the coaster credit. (Yes, it is a coaster - sort of - because it's partially on a track.) That one wasn't so bad but I vote for a dry ride.

April 28, 2020 at 9:57 AM

There was only ever one water 'ride' for us, and that was standing on the bridge over the Tanganyika Tidal Wave at BGT.

No other water ride ever came close, and now it's long gone. The expectation was the best part, followed by watching the kids having so much fun whilst getting absolutely soaked on a Florida 90+deg day. I feel sad my grandson won't have chance to enjoy that experience.

April 28, 2020 at 10:56 AM

I love water rides, but I HATE walking around a theme park wet. So the perfect scenario for me is staying onsite at Universal Orlando. Their three water rides, especially Bilge Rat Barges, are some of the best out there. So we'll pick an afternoon, dress appropriately (lightweight pants or board shorts, water-friendly shoes) and ride all three until we're totally soaked and our skin is pruned. Then it's back to the hotel for a hot shower :-). If that's not an option, then I avoid water rides -- the only exception being Splash Mountain at WDW -- you don't get that wet on it unless you're in the front.

April 28, 2020 at 11:12 AM

I don't mind a water ride like, say Splash Mountain, a little wet but not too bad.

Meanwhile, the only time I went on Popeye's ride at Universal, I was literally soaked to the skin and hours to dry out. Having to wring out your socks is not a fun thing. It's why Universal has those phone-booth sized "heaters" near that, Jurassic Park and Dudley Do-Right. That's way too wet for my tastes.

So yeah, I can like a fun boat ride like Pirates but not getting soaked.

April 28, 2020 at 12:45 PM

I agree with Mike. I like getting a little wet, but for me there’s no comparison,

Dry rides when out every time. They can be enjoyed year round, from park opening to park closing.

For me, water rides are great during hot days....but can’t beat dry rides!

April 28, 2020 at 12:45 PM

Rides where you just get misted or get a little splash of water that is limited to your upper body are fine in my book (Splash Mountain is probably right on the edge in my book). However, when you get soaked from head to toe, I'd rather sequester those attractions from the dry rides. Not only is it annoying to get so wet that your shoes squeak and your pants/shorts start chafing your legs, but it's maddening when you end up sitting in a puddle on an otherwise dry ride because the guest that rode before you was soaking wet.

I like what IOA has done with their water rides by keeping them somewhat bunched together in one quadrant of the park (it also allows them to offer free lockers for the dry rides that are too far away for guests to stash their gear and ride a water ride within the allotted time). However, if it's not scorching hot (and/or breezy), I find it very uncomfortable to ride IOA's excellent water rides and then walk around the rest of the park without changing into dry clothes. In a perfect world, I'd like to walk into a theme park and be able to walk to the "wet" side of the theme park and then be able to change clothes to then enjoy the dry park (or vice versa). Aside from parks that have adjacent or integrated water parks (that don't usually have flumes, rafts, or shoot the chutes-style rides), you usually have to either walk miles back to your car or hotel to change or relegate yourself to walking around in moist clothes for the rest of the day.

April 28, 2020 at 12:48 PM

I suppose it really depends on the day and situation but water rides have always been special to me. Log flumes were some of my first "grown up" rides as a kid and I fondly remember going to Opryland on a rainy day and riding Grizzy River Rampage repeatedly without getting off. I'm always up for a good waterpark and Splash Mountain is an all time favorite. Sure, its no fun walking around soaked but I can plan ahead for that.

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