How do you earn yourself a million ‘cool parent’ points? Pull your kids from school on a Friday in mid-June, thumb your nose at the deteriorating weather forecast and predicted highs of a measly 22C, and head out with friends for a day at Calypso, Ottawa’s brand new waterslide park!!
After a half-hour wait at the gate (they weren’t expecting crowds that really didn’t seem to unwieldy to me) we finally made our way in, and we hadn’t even chosen a base to drop our towels when Lucas tripped and scraped both knees on the pavement. Sigh. It seemed to knock him out of sorts, and it took a lot of coaxing to finally get him into the water. The big boys, on the other hand, took off into the bowels of the Pirate’s Aquaplay with barely a backward glance!
Eventually, Lucas warmed up to the various gizmos, hoses and levers in the toddler splash pool. (Ha, I didn’t even notice until I went to post this pic that it’s the only one I got of all four of them all day — Beloved and Lucas in the foreground and the big boys spraying each other with hoses in the background!)
So here’s the thing. I’d been a little anxious about the weather all week as we planned for this trip. I am a wimp, and I don’t like to be cold. I’ve been at Mont Cascades on a steaming hot day in July and found myself gasping with dismay at the frigid water temperatures. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm the toddler pool was, but I can’t tell you how wonderful it was when we found out that the GINORMOUS wave pool was heated, too!
The waves were wicked strong, and I’m glad the park provided life jackets. Tristan is a strong swimmer, but Simon’s only moderate, and though he fussed about being in a life jacket, I felt safer letting him play in one. There are a lot of lifeguards on duty, but it was still another patron who managed to get to him first (and no lifeguards seemed to notice) when he lost his footing and the undertow pulled him out of his comfort zone before I could get to him.
Speaking of currents, I think my favourite part of the park is the Jungle River, a long canal that loops through the middle of the park with a very quick current that sends you bobbing along whether you want to move or not. You can ride the current with a mat or just swim, but you’ll have to work hard against the current if you want to stand still. It brings you through misty caverns and under waterfalls — a blast! And again, warm water!!
You know, I think the boys at 2, 6 and 8 may be at a perfect age for the water park right now. We played for more than four hours in the toddler pool, the Pirate splash pad, the lazy river and the wave pool, and nobody was bored or impatient or wanting to do one thing while the rest of the crew wanted to do something else. The big boys were quite happy to play in the toddler pool with Lucas, even if Tristan is officially about half an inch too tall for it. (The perils of large children!)
Simon and I ventured onto the big waterslides. I really, really wanted to try the one that flings you out of the tube and 90 degrees up a wall before letting gravity drag you back down again. Simon, who is my least daring child most days, surprised me by being the daredevil of the day. And because the day was cool and a school day, we didn’t have to wait in line — my aching quadriceps will tell you how quickly we mounted the many, many (many!) stairs in quick succession. We got to the top of the slide before either of us had the chance to chicken out, and it was so much fun that we immediately headed back up the stairs for a different run. And then, we headed back to the toddler pool.
The kids surprised me again and again throughout the day, playing against their usual personalities. Lucas was out of sorts to start the day, and reluctant to even get into the water. Simon, who is the more cautious and sensible of the three, was limitless in his energy and enthusiasm. And Tristan, who usually has boundless energy, was the first one to peter out and want to dry off and change. Go figure. Oh well, they still had a great time.
In all, we had a fantastic day. The water, warm and salty, was perfectly comfortable despite the coolish day and more-often-than-not clouds. The park seemed a little understaffed and the lines moved very slowly for tickets and concessions, but the place felt spacious and uncrowded in the pools and slides. We arrived for park opening at 10 am, and stayed for about four hours, giving us lots of time to feel we’d had a day out without giving up the toddler nap altogether. We brought a few snacks, but bought lunch at one of the handful of small restaurants and snack bars. Next time, I think we’ll just pack a picnic — no lineups, and no pogo temptations! There are tonnes of picnic tables with umbrellas throughout the park — we didn’t even unfurl our blanket.
If you can go before school lets out for the summer, I suggest you do, and if you can’t go early, make sure you go at least once this summer. It’s worth every penny!
We’ll be going back for sure – maybe more than once!
P.S. For more pix, you can check out my set on Flickr or Lise’s — and I’m betting Angela might have a few more by end of day, too. I left my Nikon at home and brought the point-and-shoot, then spent the whole day with lens envy watching those two shoot!
If you go:
Calypso Water Park
2015 Calypso Rd in Limoges (Exit 79 from the 417)
Admission $30 for adults and kids taller than 1.32m; $24 for kids under 1.32; kids under two years old free
$5 for parking
Restaurants and gift boutiques on site
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