Cowabunga Canyon vs. Cowabunga Bay

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Las Vegas is known around the world for its two famous waterparks, but with Cowabunga Canyon vs. Cowabunga Bay, which one comes out on top?

Anyone who plans to spend a portion of their summer in Las Vegas is sure to be looking for ways to cool off. Ultimately, the best place to spend a 100-degree day is at a nice refreshing waterpark. Thankfully, Las Vegas has two of the best waterparks that are known around the world for their attractions, food options, and scenery.

Wet N’ Wild and Cowabunga Bay are both great places to spend a summer day, but they each have their own special offerings, which makes it difficult to decide which one to visit.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed when deciding between two awesome parks, but it can become quite easy when you observe the differences and what makes them unique.

History of the Las Vegas Waterparks

Wet N’ Wild (Now Cowabunga Canyon)

Wet N’ Wild waterpark was originally built in 1985 and was the first waterpark in Las Vegas. It was originally built on the Las Vegas Strip, which is where it stayed until September 26, 2004. The waterpark reopened on May 23rd, 2013, off of the strip in Spring Valley, Nevada. The new park covered 22 acres and included over 26 attractions.

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The waterpark was a massive summer hit for Las Vegas locals and tourists, up until it closed once again in 2020 due to COVID-19. Wet N’ Wild Las Vegas has been a part of the Wet N’ Wild chain since it opened, but the park was purchased by Cowabunga Bay in the Spring of 2022, and it reopened in its current state in June with enhanced safety protocols and theming, but with fewer attractions, now owned by Cowabunga Bay.

Today, Wet N’ Wild is known as Cowabunga Canyon Summerlin, with the other Las Vegas waterpark being known as Cowabunga Bay Henderson.

Cowabunga Bay

Cowabunga Bay waterpark is a bit newer than Wet N’ Wild, as it opened its doors in 2014. The waterpark, with one other location in Draper, Utah, boasts being the largest waterpark in all of Nevada.

It is located in Henderson, which is about a 20-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip. Cowabunga Bay is known for its beachy theming, its fun summer events, and its 25 attractions.

As you can see, both waterparks have a long and rich history in the Las Vegas area. They are both great places to spend a summer day, but they each have their own special offerings, which makes it difficult to decide which one to visit.

Cowabunga Canyon: Pros and Cons

The old Wet N’ Wild comes out on top in the battle between the two parks for many locals due to its rich history, distance from the strip, and attractions- but taking a look at the facts can help inform a tourist, or even a local, and influence their decision to visit.

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Pros:

  • The waterpark is often less crowded than Cowabunga Bay in Henderson, which makes for shorter lines and more time spent on attractions.
  • Wet N’ Wild waterpark is known for its thrilling slides, such as the Brain Drain, which is a 60-foot drop into a tunnel of water
  • Along with thrilling attractions, the waterpark also has a lazy river and a wave pool for those looking to relax.
  • Wet N’ Wild was recently acquired by Cowabunga, which means the park will be rapidly changing and evolving each year.
  • Due to the recent acquisition of the park, the Cowabunga season pass allows for access to both parks.

Cons:

  • Wet N’ Wild is located further away from the Las Vegas Strip than Cowabunga Bay. This can be seen as a pro or a con, depending on what you are looking for during your waterpark day or your hotel distance.
  • There are far fewer events at Wet N’ Wild than at Cowabunga Bay. The only real summer event is the Summer Concert Series which takes place in July.
  • There’s not a lot of fun theming at Wet N’ Wild when compared to Cowabunga Bay, so it feels less luxurious.
  • There are only 12 attractions remaining in the park after the Cowabunga acquisition.
  • There aren’t many family-friendly options in regards to attractions.
  • Typically closes much earlier than Cowabunga Bay.

Cowabunga Bay: Pros and Cons

Cowabunga Bay is a common tourist and local favorite, due to the theming and family-friendly attractions. However, when looking at the list of pros and cons and comparing it to the other Las Vegas waterpark, opinions of the park may fluctuate.

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Pros:

  • The beachy theming of Cowabunga Bay is outstanding and makes the park feel like more of a vacation.
  • There are over 16 attractions at Cowabunga Bay, which beats out Wet N’ Wild’s 12.
  • There are events that take place at Cowabunga Bay all summer long, including clever events such as “Neon Night.”
  • Often open to later hours for events.

Cons:

  • There aren’t many thrilling attractions for waterpark thrill-seekers.
  • Depending on hotel or home location, it may be less convenient for a tourist or a local to travel to Cowabunga Bay.
  • Cowabunga Bay is often extremely busy since it’s a favorite for many locals and tourists, so lines are much longer.
  • Due to how busy the park gets, cabanas are often sold out earlier in the day, which would require families to show up early in the morning in order to get a spot.
  • There aren’t many seating options, so if the park is full, it’s very hard to find chairs to leave your items.
  • As the park gets busier, it’s extremely hard to find rafts to float in while at the lazy river or wave pool, which is a similar issue to the con stated above.

Cowabunga Canyon vs. Cowabunga Bay

In conclusion, both waterparks are great in their own ways and it really comes down to what the visitor is looking for during their waterpark day.

If someone is looking for a thrilling waterpark experience with fewer crowds, Wet N’ Wild would be the best option. However, if someone is looking for a more relaxed waterpark day with beautiful theming and lots of events, Cowabunga Bay would be the better choice.

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With all of this being said, if there’s enough time during a trip or the summer to visit both Wet N’ Wild and Cowabunga Bay, it’s ideal to take the time to visit both. Both parks have something unique to offer, and each park is guaranteed to help cool patrons off on a hot Las Vegas summer day.

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Lori Ballen, REALTOR®

Lori Ballen, Realtor

Hi! I’m Lori Ballen REALTOR®. My team serves the Greater Las Vegas area from Summerlin to Boulder City, and everything in between. You can reach us at 702-604-7739.

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