Located directly adjacent to interstate 90 in western Pennsylvania is a water haven generally known as Splash Lagoon. During my many travels to and from the Niagara region my attention was always pulled to the southern edge of the Erie exit by the huge billboard promising a warm polynesian retreat, bowling, slides and a wave pool only rivaled in size by the huge lake in which the town is named after.
So fast forward several years and just as many freezing winters later and the chance has finally arrived for us to pull off the exit and escape the cold... Exit Antarctica, Enter Polynesia!
As with other Indoor Waterparks, Splash Lagoon also has overnight accommodations for those wanting to enjoy the complex for more than just a day, however, Splash has a unique arrangement. Where other establishments are a combined hotel and waterpark, the lodging here is comprised of 3 hotels (Holiday Inn Express, Residence Inn and Comfort Inn) all connected to Splash so you never have to go outside (which in Erie is a blessing especially during Winter months).
We stayed in a one bedroom suite at the Holiday Inn Express which was plenty of room for us all. Consisting of a kitchenette with a full size refrigerator, a living room with a pullout sofa bed and fireplace and 2 queen beds in a seperate bedroom.
With the hotels and waterpark functioning somewhat separately, there are a couple different ways when booking that you can design your trip. One day passes to the waterpark can be purchased along with your stay or you can book a package which will allow you to enter the waterpark the day of your stay and the day of checkout. I would say the barometer you should use when deciding which way to go aside from the cost, would be if your sole purpose of visiting Erie was the waterpark vs if you planned on venturing out to see what the city has to offer.
With almost every waterpark, indoor or outdoor for that matter, there has to be a water playhouse with a dumping bucket. It's as much a centerpiece as a cornucopia is on a Thanksgiving dinner table and Splash Lagoon is no exception. Not to mention this is the sole thing that Vegas looks for at every waterpark and prior to any trip, all week long all Vegas does is watch "water bucket" videos on Youtube 🤣😂
Aptly themed and named, the Tiki Treehouse is 5 stories high with 12 different play levels! As i'm sure you know if you've followed this site for any amount of time, we've seen more than our fair share of these structures and alot of them are just replicas of each other. This one breaks from the cookie cutter as where most have just a few water toys, Tiki Treehouse is loaded with water cannons, spray guns, geysers, individual pails of water and so much more which allow you to soak not only people on the treehouse, but around the treehouse as well! No One Is Safe!
And of course, I cant forget the main main attraction, the Tiki Tipping Bucket! As with the prior statement, the only similarities it shares with other waterpark structures is the fact it's a bucket.
It is in fact a bucket, a very LARGE bucket and although we don't have any information on it's actual size, I would be willing to bet a ride on the Aqua Tumbler that this is one of the largest. Most tipping buckets appear big but have false bottoms reducing their volume to about half their actual size. Not here as This one holds ONE THOUSAND GALLONS! It takes a little longer than usual for the bucket to fill (much to the aggravation of Vegas) but once it spills, anything 10 feet or so outside the "Splash Zone" will need a towel!
So imagine a plate of spaghetti in front of you (Strange I know but follow along), look at one end of a strand and visually try to follow it all the way thru the pile and fine the end by just looking. Very difficult right?
Well that's a fair comparison of the water slides here because there are so many (9) with some of the craziest twist and turns as they wind in and out of each other (not to mention in and out of the building), it can sometimes be hard to see where each slide starts! But let us help you with this a bit.
The Tiki Treehouse is the "launch point" for Maui Wowie (Chipmunks favorite) and The Black Hole (enclosed), these are fast moving slides but still calm enough for the mild thrill seekers.
For the more adventurous ones out there, Big Kahuna, Black Hole, Python Plunge (which speeds you thru a set of python fangs as the grand finale and Shark Attack should keep your adrenaline pumping and wanting to ride more. A funny thing about Shark Attack is that Munchie has been an avid Shark lover her whole life and has set her life goal to be a Marine Biologist, however due to Mj telling her that this ride was actually filled with Sharks, she absolutely would not get on! The fact that part of the ride has you sliding right past a Shark as it is about to clamp down on the tube didn't help at all. Since she didn't ride it, we can't actually confirm if there are in fact Sharks inside the ride, if you've ridden this, please let us know for Munchie's sake 👌🤔🤔👀
And finally for those who prefer nothing but the craziest and fastest around, Line up for Hurricane Hole, a slide that culminates with you being dropped into a big "bowl" where you speed around until momentum (and gravity) drop you out of the bottom into a pool below! Last but not least, The Cyclone which shares it's name with the legendary Coney Island landmark and pushes you to what will seem like the edge of your life! Hows that for adventure?!?
Monkey Shines Island Kids Area
For the little ones that haven't stretched out vertically and met the height requirements of the bigger slides, Monkey Shines Island is for them! Complete with 7 slides, a zero entry pool and their very own playhouse topped with a small water bucket! Vegas must have "slid" on each slide 20 times without stopping to take a breath as Sydney giggled and tried to keep up.
Also on the "Island" is a Splash Pad with geysers and two small Frog slides encircling a large smiley face.
The area is small enough where you can keep an eye on your child from one of the many loungers around the pool, yet big enough to where the kids can play without bumping into each other, which let's face it, kids will do anyways, on purpose.
Pools, Pools, Pools (& A Couple Hot Tubs)
What's a Waterpark without a Swimming Pool right? Here you will find Adventure Bay, a long rectangular body of water with several full court Basketball Hoops (Because you know Mj & Scoop "Have to get their practice on, even when on vacation", their words not mine), A floating ropes course where you'll get a kick out of counting the number of people that cross successfully vs. slip and fall in addition to several other water activities all in one space.
Not one but 3 huge Hot Tubs:
Lava Pool Family Whirlpool is located diagonal from the Tiki Treehouse
The Frog Pond Family Whirlpool is back past the exit to Shark Attack. Both are big enough for a ton of people and are a cool spot where kids can soak along with their parents.
21 And Over, The third Whirlpool is only for adults, so while the little ones are sliding their fears away, you can enjoy a few rare moments alone while on vacation. Guess where I was able to venture off to?
The Lazy River is a fun way to float under many of the parks attractions and get a birds eye view of riders on Hurricane Hole as the literally fall out of the bottom of the slide into a splashdown pool. It's always funny to watch people that aren't aware of this feature react when a body just appears falling... and screaming of course LOL. Don't get distracted watching this for too long or you may miss the waterfall ahead!
We knew from the kids relentless research of Splash Lagoon prior to our arrival that a wave pool existed around here somewhere and after riding on most of the slides and chasing each other around the lazy river (which is exactly the opposite of what Lazy Rivers were designed for), the kids headed to the snack bar and that's when they spotted it...
Wild Waters Wave Pool
At home we have a modest circular above ground swimming pool and every year when Spring arrives, I complain about the soon to come water bill as a result of the 200 gallons I use to fill the thing. Generally said bill averages out to around $350 - $450 bucks.
Fortunately I don't have to fill the LARGEST WAVE POOL IN THE EASTERN UNITED STATES because at 200,000 gallons, that bill would make me do alot more than just complain 🤦♂️🤦♂️. That bill however belongs to Splash Lagoon and the pool is Wild Waters, a calm and tranquil place where you can float around on your tube and look out thru the wall of windows next to you or envision yourself in a relaxing tropical oasis due to the warm temperature and palm tree background.
That all changes once the buzzer goes off and the setting turns from a calm Bay to an impending Hurricane as 6 ft. waves surround you and chaos ensues! Instead of running away from a storm as most sane humans would do, the kids instead ran into the storm and had a blast trying to stay afloat.
Have you ever looked at the clothes tumbling round and round in your dryer and wanted to jump in because certainly it looks fun right? Yea, I realize you've probably never entertained this idea (sadly the kids have wanted to and even attempted to climb into our dryer once, thankfully I was able to catch them in the act and put a stop to it).
Well if your as ambitious (using this term loosely) as the 6 Kids Crew, Splash Lagoon has something just for you! It's called the Aqua Tumbler and it looks like a giant, inflatable hamster ball with a motor on each end. You climb in, the motor kicks into gear and you try your best to keep your balance without face planting as it spins.
Mj and Scoop were the two fearless kids and gave it a try! Let me tell you, it was hilarious watching them tumble like a fleece North Face jacket in our front load dryer and try to figure out exactly how to keep their equilibrium in check while maintaining a smile on their face. How'd they do? Well watch the video and see!
(Please note the Aqua Tumbler requires a separate fee of $7 to ride)
Located on the main level of the waterpark is the Laguna Grill Snack Bar, where you can purchase all the things you've come to love and expect from amusement facilities done extremely well! I had Pizza and Fries and enjoyed them both, the first slice seemed to have been sitting out prior to my purchase so I asked for it to be replaced and it was done with a smile. The Fries however were great and some of the best i've had recently (Aside from Rally's which, lets face it, is going to take alot to top"
The kids weren't hungry, or atleast weren't acting like it so they could keep riding rides, but once Munch and Chips saw the Ice Cream stand adjacent to Laguna Grill, they immediately ran over. Hand scooped with each one packed onto the cone, they ordered one cone Peanut Butter and one Cookies and Cream and we sat and enjoyed our food while watching the Tiki Tipping Bucket soak guest. It was a cool way to take a moment break and listen to the kids conquest upto that point
So Much Fun, We Didn't Get To Do Everything!
In addition to the 50 million things covered above, due to running out of time, there were several other activities that we didn't get to experience such as the Tree Tops Climbing Course, which gives you the chance to climb 3 stories above the waterpark while attempting to maneuver different obstacles! Nerves of steel required. A huge arcade with some pretty impressive looking games (literally looked like 100s of them) is located on the top floor. Last but not least, over by the Frog Pond you'll find a Lazer Tag Arena, which from what we've seen in pictures and been told, isn't your typical laser tag.
We definitely will set aside a lot more time during our next trip and hopefully after reading all of the above you wont make the same mistake we did!
**Our trip to Splash Lagoon & The Holiday Inn Express were provided by Visit Erie in exchange for our review, but our comments are solely our own!**