Ahoy, Maties! Parrot Island Waterpark throws Labor Day party

Ahoy, Maties! Parrot Island Waterpark throws Labor Day party

It’s Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and it’s way too late to catch a flight to the Bahamas — even if you had hundreds of dollars for the ticket and time off to travel there.

Tiny Turtle Island offers fun in the water and sun for the littlest beach bums at Parrot Island Waterpark in Fort Smith. The park is throwing an end-of-summer party this weekend. (Courtesy Photo)

But if you close your eyes and whisper, “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” with enough enthusiasm, Parrot Island Waterpark could feel like a last-minute beach vacation. And it’s right in the River Valley’s own front yard.

A joint venture between the city of Fort Smith and Sebastian County, the $11 million waterpark opened in May of 2015 on land in Ben Geren Park where a city swimming pool had closed in 2004. The park debuted as one of the largest such aquatic centers in the region, with a total of 370,000 gallons of water split among a lazy river, a wave pool, a children’s area and other features. With the 2021 addition of the O’Hana Highway tube slide, which offers single and double riders 500 feet of family fun, the total rose to 450,000 gallons of liquid refreshment.

General Manager Kyle Taylor says the park also boasts the area’s only two-lane FlowRider, touted as the “most popular surfing machine in the world.”

Designed and engineered in Southern California by WhiteWater, the FlowRider Double — a trademarked name — gives riders of all ages the opportunity to experience the thrill of surfing, according to the Parrot Island website. “A thin sheet of water (approximately 3 inches) is pushed across a patented trampoline-like rider surface by use of powerful pumps. This creates an ‘endless wave’ on which riders can bodyboard or stand-up ride on a board that is a hybrid of a skateboard and snowboard.” Stand-up surfing is available the first and last hour of the operational day, the website adds.

The wave pool — called Caribbean Splash — is also one of a kind in the region and offers more than 85,000 gallons of ocean adventure.

A rider catches some air on the FlowRider Double — a trademarked name — which gives riders of all ages the opportunity to experience the thrill of surfing. (Courtesy Photo)

The park also includes Crocodile Creek, a 500-foot lazy river; a 250,000 gallon activity pool called Toucan’s Cove, which is connected to the lazy river; Tiny Turtle Island for the littlest beach bums; and four twisting and turning water slides — the four-story, 135-foot, 45-degree Pineapple Plunge, the four-story, enclosed Pelican Plunge, the 35-foot-tall Tangerine Twist and the 200-foot Blue Macaw body slide.

“Our outdoor waterpark [also] has a variety of amenities, including party pavilions, cabana rentals, food and beverage, shopping at the Tiki Hut gift shop, complimentary deck and lounge chairs, complimentary inner tubes and expansive grass lawns for relaxing,” says Taylor, adding that the Labor Day weekend is always a special closing celebration with prize giveaways that include a 2022 “gold” season pass.

While FlowRider rentals are available until Halloween, the next task for Parrot Island staff is battening down the hatches for winter. It takes about two days to drain all the water, Taylor says, then everything is taken apart, cleaned, stored and winterized. Any fresh food left over is donated to charity, he adds.

Parrot Island offers thrills like the Caribbean Splash, Pineapple Plunge, Pelican Plunge, Tangerine Twist and the Blue Macaw body slide in addition to a lazy river, party pavilions, cabana rentals, deck and lounge chairs, inner tubes and expansive grass lawns for relaxing. (Courtesy Photo)

Parrot Island will reopen May 14, 2022.


Parrot Island: Labor Day Party

WHEN — 11 a.m.-6 p.m. today, Sept. 5, and Labor Day, Sept. 6

WHERE — Ben Geren Park in Fort Smith

COST — $18 for guests over 4 feet tall; $13 for guests under 4 feet tall; children 3 and younger are admitted free

INFO — parrotislandwaterpark.com or 788-6550

Categories: Family Friendly