The familiar scent of chlorine is almost non-existent throughout Atlantic City’s 120,000-square-foot Island Waterpark at Showboat—which bills itself as the world’s largest oceanfront water park. The unpleasant odor, which typically smacks indoor water park or pool enthusiasts in the face upon arrival, dissipates due to the Island Waterpark’s retractable roof. The sun’s rays bounce off of the 11 slides and brighten the six bars as parents indulge in margaritas before relaxing in the 6,500-square-foot Island Drift Lazy River.
That’s only one reason that it appears Bart Blatstein’s brand-new Atlantic City gamble is a winner. The Tower Investments CEO and Showboat owner has opened the massive Island Waterpark, which complements his arcade and go-cart attractions at the former casino.
The park pleases both parents and children, which is an accomplishment. The line for the 1,000 square-foot Wild Wave FlowRider surf simulator was long on the day I visited, as kids tried to stay on their boards as long as possible. Parents kicked back and enjoyed refreshing frozen margaritas, despite being a whopping $21 each.
There’s even an adults-only pool, which is a serene oasis. However, many moms and dads were navigating such slides as the rapid Sonic Serpent and the unpredictable Electric Eel when I visited.
The latter provides the greatest visceral thrill courtesy of the combination of unpredictability, speed, curves and a cool splashdown. There are one and two-person inflatable tubes. Go with the latter since additional weight adds speed. The lead racer will get drenched.
There are two tidal racer slides, where guests zoom head-first on a water mat at a respectable speed. There’s a man-made waterfall that is one of the largest custom water forms in the world and a 30-foot-tall Indoor Tree House that can be booked for private parties. There’s a pool with two basketball hoops and plenty of balls. We had no problem shooting to our hearts’ content while splashing around in between runs on slides.
Island Waterpark has a sleek adults-only venue with a DJ, who spins while overlooking the Bliss Pool. The 21-and-up pool enables guests to gaze at the Atlantic City beach and boardwalk. The Bliss Pool includes Atlantic City’s only swim-up bar with bar stools. Free massages are available upon request. There are manicure stations, chair massages, workspaces and Peloton bikes. There’s an outdoor turf zone with corn hole. But guests must pay for access to the VIP Bliss Pool area. An additional 30 bucks for access to the adults-only area is worth it if you have children who are fine on their own.
Admission isn’t cheap—$89 per person or $69 at twilight between 4-9 pm. Neither is the food, but it’s plentiful. Cocktails start at $17. Burgers are priced at $15. Boardwalk fare, hot dogs, pretzels and chicken fingers are offered. Lines move quickly at the stands, which are located next to arcade attractions.
The park gets a big thumbs-up for cleanliness. The staff was constantly cleaning and often checked the pH levels. It seems as if every other water park experience I’ve had is followed by an ear infection, but not so after the Island Waterpark.
It’s a chill vibe with a playlist, which is designed to appeal to parents. A classic rock tune is almost always followed by a country track surfing over the din of children’s laughs and squeals. There’s an abundance of staffers, who are attentive. There’s lockers for guests. It’s $15 for a small locker and $20 for a large locker.
The Showboat has taken a page from the Disney World playbook by incorporating a “Rise n’ Shine” hour, which allows hotel guests an exclusive morning hour prior to the general public’s arrival. It’ll be curious to see if more family-friendly attractions will be added to what used to be known as “America’s Playground,” which is where seaside recreation was born.
The Island Waterpark is following in the footsteps of the orange loop, which is a developing downtown full of non-casino options, which is finally giving Atlantic City some much needed balance.
Island Waterpark, 801 Boardwalk, Atlantic City; 609-964-7663. Admission is $89, $69 at twilight 4-9 pm (kids 3 and under are free).