Whenever people talk about summer in Austin, water activities are always recommended. Dipping in Barton Springs, a trip to Hamilton Pool, floating the river. All fantastic ways to beat three straight months of 100-degree heat.
But what if you don’t even want to be outside? Regardless of your water activity of choice, the blazing sun can turn the coolest of pools into bath water, and fry skin to a crisp. And forget it if you have little ones. Spending any amount of time in broiling temperatures can be downright dangerous. What’s a parent to do?
Cedar Park’s micro indoor water park may be the perfect solution. Allow me to introduce you to Splash Shack, a family-focused waterscape and play area, designed with big and little kids in mind. All without reliance on greasy sunscreen or suffering through triple-digit temps.
And, more good news: Splash Shack is open year-round. So when the heat has passed and it’s actually a bit cool to swim outside, you can find swimming fun right here, every month of the year.
Disclosure: My visit was provided free of charge for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.
Born From a Spirit of Adventure
When I asked Splash Shack’s manager Ashley Massaad, “Why put a water park in the middle of Cedar Park?” her answer was simple. “Why not?”
The idea for Splash Shack is a brand new concept: an indoor water park intentionally developed on a small scale. The entirety of the venue, from changing rooms, to the snack area, to water elements, is housed in an 8,000-square-foot building.
Six large slides and two mini slides supply the speed, while elements like splash pads, water shoots, and a massive dump bucket provide the balance of aquatic fun. The business even offers a small section for four-years-old and under, with age-appropriate slides and fountains.
Splash Shack features a lovely “beach” area with an army of comfortable chairs set away from the shooting water. The chairs all face the structure, making kid-tracking easy for parents. There are five family-style restrooms for changing, two dedicated changing rooms, and showers near the play structure for rinsing.
For food stuffs, there’s the Snack Shack, a snack bar with chips, candy, and drinks for sale. Since the average visit to Splash Shack lasts around two hours, snacks are more than adequate for keeping hungry kids happy.
Be aware that outside food and re-entry are not permitted.
Delightful Watery Experience
Upon entry, the first thing I noticed was the temperature. Outside, at 10:30 in the morning, it was already 95 degrees with triple digits looming. Inside Splash Shack, it was a balmy 82. My kiddo does not do well in the heat, so the moderate temperature was a huge relief.
The second thing I noticed was the compact but exciting play structure. The small scope is a blessing. Most water parks are monolithic monstrosities that make tracking kids nearly impossible. Splash Shack is intentionally designed to be 100 percent viewable from the forward-facing “beach” area. While my little dude needed to be chaperoned due to his age, I would have felt comfortable letting him explore the playscape on his own, knowing I could keep an eye on him from my comfy chair.
The fantastic staff was a big part of my comfort level. At least three certified lifeguards are on duty at all times and required to undergo weekly training sessions to stay on their game. Anybody working in the structure is first aid, CPR, and AED certified, so I felt secure my little guy would be well taken care of, if left to his own devices. Not only were the lifeguards exceptionally friendly and fun, but they did a fine job keeping the crowd from getting unruly.
And while there weren’t any large parties going on during our visit, Splash Shack is event-friendly. The staff is adept at hosting everything from birthday parties, to corporate outings, to church events.
Fun Time for All
Most important of all, my little guy had a ball. From the age-appropriate speed slides to twisty-turny rides, he was in non-stop motion for the two hours we visited. And don’t think I sat there moping. Interacting with him in the splash pad and getting pummeled by the giant water bucket made for a memorable morning.
And to top it all off, did I mention Splash Shack is open all year round? Now you can shoot down a water slide during Christmas break, right here in the Austin area. With an internal temperature of 82 degrees, this indoor water park is an excellent place to get your swim on during rainy days and cold months.
Finding new things to do with little ones can be a challenge, especially during inclement weather and extreme seasons. By delivering a fun-filled water adventure in a compact, easy to navigate setting, Splash Shack’s family-focused concept allows kids and adults to enjoy a couple hours of aquatic fun sheltered from the elements.
Splash Shack = 1. Thermometer = 0.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Where do you take your little ones swimming in the Austin area?
The original version of this article was published August 19, 2019.