There has been a huge increase in the number of water parks in recent years. New attractions compete with each other to offer the steepest slides, the longest lazy rivers, the wildest wave pools and, er, the largest aircraft to ever be purposely submerged. Just when you began to wonder how rival developments could further outdo each other, a Boeing 747 was towed out to sea and sunk to form part of Dive Bahrain, the world’s biggest underwater theme park. Here are some other watery fun destinations to tempt the young, the young at heart and parents trying to get their children off their phones during the summer holidays. Dubai The UAE is home to dozens of water parks, which is just as well given the climate. Dubai’s Wild Wadi comes out on top for sheer adrenaline but Aquaventure at Atlantis The Palm is larger and feels less crowded. And it’s about to get even bigger. There are plans to introduce 12 new slides as part of an expansion that will see Aquaventure surpass Tropical Islands, in Germany, as the world’s largest. First choice for daredevils is the Leap of Faith, which sounds more like an acid trip than a water park ride: “A near vertical slide drops you from a height of nine storeys through a clear Perspex tube surrounded by sharks and rays.” The biggest gripe concerning Aquaventure, which ranks fifth of 391 things to do in Dubai, according to TripAdvisor, is the admission fee. A family of four are looking at more than HK$2,400 (US$307) for the day. Phuket, Thailand Splash Jungle Water Park offers 12 slides, along with the obligatory lazy river and a wave pool. Guests load Thai baht onto a waterproof wristband to buy food and drinks – don’t try taking your own refreshments in; bags are searched and any edible contraband is confiscated. Splash is at Mai Khao Beach, just 400 metres from the airport runway, but the screaming jets are largely drowned out (sorry, poor choice of words when describing an aqua park) by the sound of gushing water. Response times to customer complaints are speedy and a tad amusing. Replying to an online gripe about dirty toilets and the lack of English spoken by employees, the park manager was quick to offer reassurance: “We will quickly develop for toilet and our some staff that doesn’t speak English.” The United States The US was home to the first themed water park (SeaWorld, San Diego, 1964) and now boasts more than 1,300 aquatic play places nationwide, according to the World Waterpark Association. Many of the most popular are off the beaten tourist track, in states such as Iowa and Indiana, but a new facility a mere 10 minutes from Disney World, Florida, is set to shake things up. Island H2O Live! has adopted a hi-tech approach that will have social media addicts beating a path to its flumes. Interaction is the name of the game – smart bands connected to an app come with a queuing feature that enables visitors to avoid long lines by booking time slots. Guests can also control the park’s music playlist and live stream themselves on themed rides that include the Downloader, Hashtag Heights and Follow Me Falls, then post the video online, where their friends may or may not care enough to watch the clips. Singapore Combining fluvial fun with marine life encounters, Adventure Cove Waterpark at Sentosa Island is one of Singapore’s most-loved aquatic attractions. Guests can snorkel with thousands of tropical reef fish and wade among rays and sharks, rather than view them in the traditional way, through the thick glass walls of an aquarium. Dolphin encounters can be booked for an extra fee. Cameras aren’t allowed but staff will photograph the interaction for an extra, extra fee. Despite criticism of swims with captive dolphins by animal welfare groups who claim the practice is stressful and cruel, few online reviewers see any problem. As one blogger wrote: “You get to touch them, feed them and dance with them.” There again, Mahatma Gandhi wrote: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Bali, Indonesia Voted Asia’s best water park in TripAdvisor’s 2017 and 2018 Travellers’ Choice Destinations Awards, Waterbom has been developed to complement the natural environment. Situated in a lush tropical landscape, more than 50 per cent of the 3.8 hectare park is maintained as green space. Cabanas, which come with mats, cushions, tables and a small safe for valuables, provide somewhere to relax between rides. Best of all, children needn’t worry about losing their parents – mums and dads rarely stray from the swim-up bar. Penang, Malaysia In a move that’s sure to make Dubai green with envy (until they get around to building a bigger one), the world’s longest water slide is due to open at the ESCAPE theme park, in Penang, Malaysia, next month. The 1,140-metre-long ride will surpass the current record holder, in New Jersey, in the US, by a whopping 539 metres. From top to bottom, the corkscrewing yellow and blue tubes will carry revellers through the jungle canopy for an attention span-challenging four minutes. Limiting the environmental impact by avoiding the use of heavy machinery and not felling trees during construction has been a great source of pride for park executives. Now might not be the right time to point out the findings of a US study that suggests we’re twice as likely to get injured on a water slide than on a roller coaster. Cambodia Angkor Water Park is a US$55 million project due for completion by the end of the year. It never hurts to trade on a name heavy with historical significance – as long as people don’t head up to Siem Reap assuming the new attraction is near Angkor Wat. The 60,000-square-metre theme park will open next to Safari World Zoo, in Phnom Penh, and is already being touted as Cambodia’s first international standard water park. They have a point. The website for “local standard” rival, Fantastic Water World, recommends that you call Ms. Soun Sreynouch on +855 (0) 81 222 105 for information and reservation (sic). Amateurish? Maybe. But there’s a lot to be said for the personal touch.