What’s to Love: I can’t say enough good things about the entire Evergreen facility, which includes a space museum, aviation museum, digital 3D theater, and the Wings & Waves Waterpark. These are beautiful museums that will ignite your child’s imagination and fascinate the whole family. The sheer magnitude of Evergreen astounds me. All of these facilities are on par with anything on the national level, and believe it or not, they are located just 40 miles from Portland.
I want to go on and on about the Evergreen museums, but I’ve already done so in an article a few years ago. During that initial visit, they were nearing completion of a new waterpark. I could see the building with a 747 perched on the roof. Someone who worked for the museum told me a bit about the water park, and I remember one point stood out in her waterpark description. The Evergreen employee said, “The water slides will come out of the 747 sitting on the roof.” What? Even writing that now is almost unbelievable; however, it is true!
Yes, four slides start their meandering (and sometimes thrilling) descent from the plane on the roof – did I say it was a GIANT 747? Our family favorite was the “green slide,” which has the official name of “Nose Dive.” What’s so cool about it? Well, after heading down an enclosed slide with moments of complete darkness, you’re spit-out into a giant funnel where you’ll take a few swirls around the bowl before getting sucked back in for the final plunge. Excellent slide!
The yellow (Sonic Boom) and blue (Tail Spin) slides are similar, but the yellow has sections that are not fully enclosed, which is nice for kids who might be scared. Plus, Sonic Boom had the shortest wait time of any slide. I can’t explain this “short-line-phenomenon” with the Sonic Boom slide. My kids thought it was just as fun as the other slides, but every time we rode it, we marched unimpeded all the way to the top of the ride with only 2-3 people in front of us.
The orange slide (Mach 1) is their resident thrill ride featuring a fully enclosed tube that is ridden without a tube (all other major slides use tubes) and has many twists, turns, and drops. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this slide. However, if you factor in wait time, this was my least favorite slide (see “Recommended Ages” for more on the Mach 1). Along with the Nose Dive, the Mach1 has the longest lines.
All those water slides have you feeling a bit queasy? Take a break and head over to their awesome wave pool, which really packs a punch! I know there are many different settings to the way waves are dolled out; however, they must have had it on high every time we were in there because the waves were big and powerful. We did some serious body surfing over and over again – the wave pool never got old.
If you want to chill out a bit, there is a large pool with several basketball hoops, a nearby hot tub, and a small vortex pool. To round out the attractions, the waterpark features a playstructure with all kinds of fun water play including two slides for kids under 42″ tall. Overall, I highly recommend Wings & Waves! Here is a slideshow of our pictures followed by a short video clip.
Caveats: Note that non-swimmers still have to pay a $10 admission fee and lockers are between $8 and $10 depending on the size. Think you don’t need a locker? Well, think again…they have a limited amount of tables to claim for your family’s stuff. My advice is to get there right when it opens and claim a table to save money.
Website: Wings & Waves Waterpark
Distance from Portland: It’s about 40 miles from downtown Portland. Here is a link to their “Directions” page. Watch out for traffic when you’re heading back to Portland. You’ll hit the usual bottleneck heading into Dundee. This could add anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes to your trip home.
Recommended Ages: All ages, even toddlers will have a fun time on the small kiddie slides. There are also plenty of spray features and a playstructure for young ones. One of the great things is that three out of four slides can be ridden tandem on tubes. This is an excellent feature that allows parents to experience the rides with their kids. One of the reasons the Mach 1 was my least favorite ride was that it’s a single-person slide. Part of going to a waterpark is experiencing the thrill of the slides with your kids. Teenagers will certainly be all over the Mach 1, because they don’t want to be hanging out with their parents the whole time. So, there is a something for everyone.
Parental Stress Factor: The stress factor here was remarkably low for a waterpark. Of course, there are all kinds of dangers involved with water, but for the most part, the focus on safety by Evergreen put as at ease from the time we walked in the doors until leaving the park hours later.
Physical Difficulty: Their website clearly states that “…Wings and Waves Waterpark meets all ADA guidelines.” Read more about accessibility on their site, and if you have any questions, give them a call.
If you ride the slide with your kids (you are going to ride the slides with your kids, right?), you will definitely feel it by the end of the day. Each time, you will have to haul a single or double tube up a pretty big flight of stairs. Playing in the wave pool, swirling in the Votex, and playing that ill-advised game of water basketball might remind you that you’re not as young as you used to be!
Family Fun Factor: Are you kidding me? This is the cream of the crop when it comes to family fun! We enjoyed all the various slides, wave pool, water basketball, hot tub, vortex pool, H2O Museum, etc. There were so many options for a variety of ages, and I can’t wait until our next trip.
Pet Friendly: Leave Fido at home for this one.
Weather Considerations: Great indoor fun when it’s raining outside.
Insider Info: Your kids will have to be over 42″ tall to ride three of the four slides (Sonic Boom, Nose Dive, and Tail Spin), and 48″ to ride the Mach 1 slide. You might wonder if it’s worth the price of admission ($25) for a kid who is less than 42″. In my opinion, yes, it’s worth it, even if they don’t get to ride the “big slides.” There is so much to do!
Taking time off to visit the “H2O Museum,” which is inside the waterpark was not a high priority for my kids. It took a lot just to get them to head in that direction! However, you have to remember you’re at an Evergreen facility here, and they know how to put together a museum. Please, take some time to check out all the cool exhibits inside this mini museum. It will give your kids a chance to wind down a bit, and it’s really cool!
Family Tips: The changing areas are so nice and family friendly! The larger public areas have machines that will spin the water out of your suits. I liked the private family restrooms and changing areas that were equipped with showers. You can lock yourselves in, take a quick rinse off, and change into your clothes when ready to leave. Very nice!
If you want to save money after spending either $25 or $30 per person, I recommend bringing a cooler with all your food and drinks. The park opens at 10am, so after a few hours, we were more than ready to take a break outside the building and have lunch. We just ate out on their lawn, but they do have a picnic area with tables. Don’t worry, once you pay and have a wristband, you’re allowed reentry.
Looking for more fun in the area? You’ll drive right by the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge (still free!), which is underrated as a family stop. We also hit the Newberg Skatepark on the way home, which is an amazing facility that includes a separate BMX bike track.
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