Summer may be on its way out, but as long as it’s hot out there, visitors and locals will be on the lookout for creative ways to cool off. Israel’s water parks may be a nightmare for most sane adults, but they are a pure delight for children and teenagers. I still have fond memories of childhood visits to water parks: the excited anticipation while waiting in line for the curvy slides, the fear of possibly drowning in the wave pool, and the racing arcade game (which I always seemed to lose to the same girl in the flowered bikini who was older than me).
Visits to Israeli water parks almost always include shouting parents armed with picnic coolers, bits of leftover food sprinkled around the wet grass, and kiddie pools that sometimes have things other than toys floating in them. Still, a visit to an Israeli water park is one of the more authentic summer vacation experiences you can get here.
First, let’s repeat a few basics: All water parks have lifeguards, but it’s important to stay close to your children in the pool and watch them at all times. Children who don’t know how to swim should wear arm floats and must never be allowed into the deep-water pool. Watch out for the sun — bring waterproof sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, drink plenty, and remember that water intensifies the sun’s rays. Water parks are not recommended for babies, since they are particularly vulnerable to heat, and make sure a slide is age-appropriate for your children before letting them climb up.
Israel’s two largest water parks are the Shefayim Water Park near Kibbutz Shefayim and the Meymadion in Tel Aviv. The Shefayim Water Park is the oldest, with 26 slides and eight water areas spanning a space of about 25 acres. The park’s best-known attractions include the Crazy Cones, a water slide 12 meters high and 110 meters long, part of which is inside a tunnel with sound and light effects. There’s also the Racer, which has four colorful water slides that kids zip down on rafts. There’s also an extreme park that offers archery, an outdoor nature maze and a huge paintball field where groups compete against each other. The park has a wave pool designed like a beach, three fast-food restaurants and lots of other water slides, including the Kamikaze - mainly for brave souls. Tickets cost NIS 104 (from age 2 and up), and if you buy more than three tickets, the cost per ticket is NIS 80. After 1 P.M., the ticket price goes down to NIS 80 per person. Ordering tickets from the website will get you a discount of NIS 29: www.waterpark.co.il. Opening hours for July and August: 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. (5 P.M. on weekends and holidays). In September and October, opening hours are from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. The water areas close half an hour before the gates close. For more information, call (09) 959-5756/7.
The Meymadion, in Ganei Yehoshua in Tel Aviv, stretches over 25 acres of lawns. It has pools and various water slides, including three curvy slalom slides that are 150 meters long, fast and slow tube lanes, a wave pool, a swimming pool and a kiddie pool. It also has an area for “dry” sports such as a basketball court, a beach volleyball court and goals for soccer. An entertainment troupe performs children’s shows on the main stage. Starting in September, the park will be open only on Saturdays and holidays. In any case, check the website — www.meymadion.co.il — for opening hours before going. Although the website is in Hebrew only, it’s still easy to find the days it’s open on the calendar: They’re marked in green. For more information, call (03) 642-2277. Prices: NIS 105 per person (over age 2; kids under 2 get in free with the presentation of an ID card). After 1 P.M., the price goes down to NIS 90 (on Saturdays as well). Tickets for disabled people are NIS 90 with presentation of a disability card.