Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Splash! Scenes From a Water Park

It's summer. We live in Southern California. We have three sons. Yep, we make trips to the water park!

If you write YA, perhaps your MC works at a water park and stalks a hunky lifeguard. If you write MG, maybe your MC visits a water park with her friends and there's drama drama drama. If you write adult fiction, your frazzled MC might take her kids to the water park so she can have peace and quiet and read a book (Not that I'm referring to myself. No way.)

If your character visits a water park, here are a few things she can expect to see:

The People
  • Barefoot teen lifeguards--girls: red one-piece bathings suits (sorta Baywatch style). Guys: red trunks; bronze chests shaved; some backne. All: blue fanny packs/first aid kits around their waists. 
  • Babies with sodden diapers
  • Tattooed dads pushing baby strollers
  • A pregnant woman wearing a two-piece bathing suit
  • 15-year-old teens making out on a lounge chair (awkward!)
  • Teen guys walking in circles around the park, swagger on full display for teen girls
  • Teen girls walking around the park, flipping wet hair
  • Middle grade kids running barefoot on the hot walkway, jumping from one shady spot to another
The Sounds
  • Running water
  • Bare feet slapping concrete
  • Babies crying
  • Conversations in Spanish
  • Whistles blown by lifeguards
  • Laughing
  • Squealing on slides
  • Thump of inflatable tubes exiting slide & landing in water
  • Horn at wave pool announcing incoming waves
The Scenery
  • Black or white tubes and slides looping through the sky, with water rushing down
  • Blue and white striped cabanas with small, sandy areas in front
  • White lounge chairs reserved with colorful beach towels
  • People walking or floating in the lazy river
  • Leaves and stray hairs floating in the lazy river (Ick! My personal pet peeve)
  • Water that gets cloudier with each hour
  • Bright blue and yellow circle tubes leaning against posts or piled high at ride exits
  • Pizza, funnel cakes, large souvenir cups
The Smells

Shelley Trammell reminded me about the smells. How could I forget that? Here are her suggestions:
  • Suntan oil/lotion
  • Sweaty bodies
  • Chlorinated water
  • Concession stand food
  • Landscaped flower beds
  • Musty locker room
Like malls, water parks are great places for people watching. Have you been to a water park lately? What details have I missed?


  1. How about people who have no right to be in a bathing suit?

    1. Good one, Alex. There were PLENTY of those :/

  2. I haven't been in years, but I bet my kids would love it. I think it's time for a visit.

    1. Miranda, the place grosses me out, but the kids love it!

  3. We have Schliterbon near where I live, a long standing #1 on the Travel Channel's World's Best Water Parks. We go at least once a summer and take out-of-town guests any chance we get. I think you captured the "vibe" perfectly.

    Especially the teen boys with bacne. ;) But are they worse than the uber hairy old guys? Let the debate rage! lol

    1. OMG, I Googled that place...how awesome!!!! Looks like you could spend all day there and still not see it all. Wow.

      Um, hairy old guys are definitely worse, IMHO!!

  4. Hi Julie, wondered is you could give my recent post a mention, please? Not to worry if this is a problem. Kind regards, Carole.

    1. Carole, I'd be happy to! I'm on my way over...

  5. We have to travel several hours to get to a water park - but they sure are fun places to be! People watching is so much fun!

    1. Darn...our area didn't have one for a long time, but now we have Hurricane Harbor. It's a pretty cool (but crowded) place.

  6. I've never been to a water park so this is AWESOME! I'm taking notes and bookmarking this one. Thank you!

    1. Heather, you aren't missing much...except crowds, sweaty people, and long strands of hair sticking to wet skin :/

      I'm glad it was useful!

  7. How about sunbathing mommies who are outraged when they get splashed. IT'S A WATER PARK, SWEETHEART.

  8. Just came back from Great Wolf Lodge and Kings Island (Ohio) I think you nailed it. I'm amazed at the people who think it's ok to wear a bikini when it is so not in their case. (imho). But, hey, I'm weird and like all my stuff covered;) I did a lot of people watching, and as always, plenty of notes taken in the writer brain!

  9. What about all the RED people- with sunburns from head to toe?
    Or the striped people, with crazy tan (or burn) lines!

  10. Water parks definitely provide some great inspiration. Although some MG kids are stalking lifeguards as well. They just won't talk to them. LOL!

  11. Oh my gosh, it's been too many years since I've been to a water park. Great post.

  12. I love the detail with the teenage boys swaggering and the teenage girls flipping wet hair. That totally captures the water park for me! ha ha ha!

    I wish we had a good water park around here. I'm not sure why we don't!

  13. Oh... it's been a long time since I've been to a water park but, I have one fond memory.
    Very hunky guy, strutting around in his speedo. Dropped down and did pushups. Then stood and strutted again. He was wearing a headset. This guy was in his mid twenties.

    My 14 year old daughter was in awe. My 12 year-old daughter asked, "I wonder what he's listening to?" My 13 year old daughter answered, "Breath in... Breath out. Breath in.... Breath out."

    Excellent detail! Thanks for sharing and Happy 4th of July!

  14. The last water park I went to was at Disney's Water World. You nailed the characters, the setting and the action. You're obviously a writer. We're the ones looking for details like this for the next story while everyone else is splashing in the water.

    Happy summer to you and your boys.

  15. You noted great details here, Julie! I hope you had a great time while the writer in you was taking notes. : )