When school ends each year, my kids put together their wish list of all the things they want to do and see during their summer holidays. The list has a few different things on it each year, but there are the regulars such as riding their bikes, visiting the library, visiting museums, going to the splash pad, watching movies and having popcorn on a rainy day to getting a pet (that last one is not happening this year, dear children).
For the past two years, they have wanted to visit Calypso Theme Waterpark. Last year, we did not make it out but as luck would have it, this year would be the year we would visit.
As you can imagine, the kids were ecstatic.
Here in Ottawa, we have so many amazing things to do year-round and as of summer 2010, visiting Canada’s biggest theme park became one of those things. Calypso is located just a short drive east of Ottawa, and sits on 100 acres. So, from that last fact, you already know that there are tons of things to see and do for everyone in the family including 35 heated waterslides, 100 water games, two theme rivers, eight restaurants, and a whole lot more.
Tip: Before you visit a waterpark, visit the website and take a look at the map. Decide what attractions will be best for your family and make a plan. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the fun things the park has to offer, so go in with a plan and no one will be disappointed at the end of the day.
After getting a locker to store our things, the first attraction we visited was Canada's largest wave pool, “Calypso Palace.” The kids loved this one. The water is heated so when the waves hit you, it is pleasant and not icy cold. If you have little ones, life jackets are available free of charge and life guards are always on duty. One cool thing about Calypso Palace is that the they have set up beach chairs right along the “beach” area so you can lounge and relax by the waves.
After a little coaxing to get the kids out of the wave pool, we headed over to “Pirate’s Aquaplay,” which is a super fun water play structure that includes slides, water canons, and the big pirate bucket that empties down on all who are below.
Even though it looks like a kiddie attraction, I think the adults were having as much fun on this one as the kids! I even partook in the fun for a little while. I snapped this pic right after getting soaked myself and didn't realize that I had caught my kids getting wet in the background...again.
Next up was "Canyon Rafting." Now, my two kids are opposites when it comes to trying larger attractions like this one. One will do pretty much anything, the other one is always a little hesitant and unsure. After watching a few families make their way down, the hesitant one decided she wanted to try. The raft you sit in can fit up to six people and you zoom down the fast slide getting splashed all the way down. After we landed at the bottom, guess what her immediate reaction was? “Can we go on that again??” I wasn't surprised because it was a ton of fun!
Next, we grabbed lunch at one of the eight restaurants on site. You can also choose to bring in your own lunch and enjoy it at one of the many designated, shaded eating areas throughout the park.
Tip: As with all themeparks, there are a lot of yummy temptations such as ice cream, pastries, milk shakes and fries, but there are also a lot of lighter options such as sandwiches and salads. Enjoy yourself, but eat light if you plan on taking in some of the higher and fast water slides!
The last attraction we took in for the day was the Kongo Expedition. This was actually the biggest hit with my family and I was not surprised to learn that it has won awards for being so great. If the kids could have, they would have went on this one over, and over, and over again.
The Kongo Expedition is a “lazy river” with twists and turns, caves, waterfalls and lots of places where you will get very wet! It is a really nice attraction to wind down your day at the park.
Tip: Spending extended periods of time in the sun can be draining, especially on kids. Take shade breaks, and be mindful of their cues. A tired, cranky kid at a waterpark is not fun, so know when to wrap up your day of fun so it remains a pleasant memory for everyone.
After the Kongo Expedition, we walked through the park to take a quick look at some of the bigger and more thrilling rides we didn't go on, like the "Summit Tower:"
And the "Acid Test" (note that the lineups look really long in this picture, but we found that they moved pretty quickly for all attractions):
What is great about Calypso is that there is something for everyone, no matter how old they are. For the tiniest visitors, the "Zoo Lagoon" is a child-themed lagoon with age-appropriate slides and a small wading pool. The "Jungle Challenge," is a fun obstacle course for adults and kids and then there is the"Aqualoops" (which promises to bring you from 0 to 2.5Gs in less than 2 seconds!) and everything in between!
Tip: No matter if the lineups are short or long, you will be spending a lot of time in the sun while at a waterpark. Be sure to bring your sunscreen and wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes. Note that you may be asked to remove your sunglasses on some attractions.
After one last visit to catch a few more waves at Calypso Palace we decided to call it a day. On the walk to the car, the kids asked if we could come back tomorrow. Easy children—maybe not tomorrow, but we will definitely be back again.
And the kids got to check off their visit to Calypso on their wish list. Now to work with them on the proper spelling of Calypso!