Get your bikini or board shorts packed for the ride of your life – because every one of the slides in this list is going to blow your mind.
Since the first waterpark appeared back in the late 1940s, designers have been pushing the boundaries to make slides higher, faster, longer and scarier.
There are speed slides and spiralling vortexes and new rides only recently made possible by modern technology – including the first water coaster; a fully rotating slide-wheel; a Virtual Reality slide and a vertical loop.
Others in the past have been so extreme they’ve had to be closed down due to injuries and, well, deaths - but all these picks, at least at the time of writing, are still going strong.
1. Kilimanjaro, Brazil
Unique factor: It’s the world’s tallest slide.
Get there: Aldeia das Aguas Park Resort is in Rodovia, about 85 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro.
At 49.9m high – 12m higher than the city’s Christ the Redeemer statue – this is not only the world’s tallest slide, it’s also reportedly the world’s fastest, with a record speed of 57mph.
It takes 234 steps to reach the top, where the view is so perilous that one in 20 riders back out and walk straight back down.
It briefly lost its title for two years when a similar but bigger slide called Verruckt (meaning Insane) opened in the USA but that was closed by a fatality in 2016.
2. Slide-wheel, China
Unique factor: The world’s first rotating waterslide.
Get there: Chimelong Waterpark is a 30-minute drive from the centre of Guangzhou, South China, and can also be reached in around 2hrs from Hong Kong, via Shenzhen.
This insanely disorientating slide feeds riders into a zero gravity spin in a ‘hamster wheel’ then spits them out the other side. It has to be seen to be believed – and even then it’s still hard to believe.
Designed by Wiegand Maezler and opened in 2018, it releases four-person rafts into a dizzying one-and-a-half minute washing machine ride every 30 seconds and is perhaps the most spectacular waterslide ever made.
3. X-Treme Faser
Unique factor: It’s only for men and ‘not suited’ to women.
Get there: Galaxy-Erding Tropical Spa and Waterpark is 36km North East of Munich and can be reached in 45mins by car or by regional train.
This 67m-long ride, which reaches speeds of 45mph, is so ferocious that women have been banned since 2012 after several incidents caused female riders to be hospitalisedby injuries to their private parts.
It’s one of several extreme rides in the park – there’s also Kamikaze, with its 60-degree freefall, and High Fly, which starts 32m high and throws riders through the air onto a second slide.
4. MASSIV Monster Blaster, USA
Unique factor: It goes UP as well as down.
Get there: Schlitterbahn Waterpark is on Galveston Islands, near Lockheed Airport, about an hour South East of Houston, Texas.
This 21m-high slide is the world’s tallest 'water coaster' and it’s such a wild ride that it goes UP four times as well as down. The coaster twists, turns, drops and splashes for almost 300m and ends with a triple-drop.
It utilises unique ‘Master Blaster’ technology invented by the park’s ‘Wizard of Water’ Jeff Henry, as six powerful jets push riders up the hills.
While you're in the park, check out the equally whiteknuckle attraction Screaming Serpents. Its twin tube slides send riders into a dizzying corkscrew that twists around two-and-a-half times before spitting them out through two 2.5m high snake jaws.
5. Space Twister
Unique factor: It takes you to another world.
Get there: Sonnentherme is in Burgenland, near the Austria-Hungary border. It’s around an hour from either Vienna or Graz.
Virtual Reality headsets have taken waterslides to a new dimension – turning relatively tame rides into mind-blowing experiences that take you through everything from steamy jungles to starry galaxies.
This one is the world’s longest (there’s also one in Galaxy Erding) and it gives riders a 360 view with the option of three different computerised worlds: Dragons, Aliens and Fantasy.
6. Leap of Faith
Unique factor: It has sharks.
Get there: The Atlantis Waterpark is on Paradise Island, just a 20 minute drive from the centre of capital Nassau.
This clear acrylic tunnel is one of the most unusual waterslides – because it sends riders 18m down the side of a faux ancient Mayan temple then shoots them through a lagoon filled with big-teeth sharks.
Real sharks at that. To make it even more terrifying, you may or may not be pleased to know that in 2008 a reef shark actually jumped from its enclosure and onto the waterslide. Luckily nobody was hurt.
7. L2, Austria
Unique factor: It’s the world’s first double loop
Get there: Wörgler Wasserwelt waterpark is only a 30 minute drive or 20 minutes on the train from central Hannover, followed by a 15 minute walk from Langenhagen station.
The official warning signs say it all: ‘L2 is nothing for wimps, wusses and chickens!’ This loop-the-loop-the-loop slide claims to be the most extreme and intense waterslide on the planet – and they may be right.
Riders step into a clear capsule with stunning alpine views and wait for the hatch to open. Then comes 14m of freefall, accelerating to 40mph to hit the world’s first double-loop. Some are too light to make the second loop – and drop out through a trapdoor.
8. Scorpion’s Tail
Where: Wisconsin, USA
Unique factor: Its loop is as vertical as you can get.
Get there: Noah’s Ark Waterpark is near Lake Delton, around 1h45mins drive from Milwaukee or 3hrs from Minneapolis.
This was the first loop-the-loop slide in the US and its 60-degree angle is still as close to full inversion as you can get right now.
Riders stand on a trap door floor that drops from beneath them into a 16m freefall, speeding them up to 40mph and creating enough centrifugal force in the loop to flip them virtually upside down.
9. Zero-G, USA
Unique factor: World’s tallest double loops.
Get there: Mountain Creek Waterpark is in Vernon, New York, just over an hour from downtown Manhattan with buses running from New Jersey and New York on Fridays and weekends.
This slide is one of the most accessible on the list for city dwellers, being just a short ride from downtown New York – and it also happens to be one of the world’s most intense.
The trapdoor start drops riders into a high-speed thrill ride, giving them a feeling close to zero gravity as they accelerate through the world’s tallest double loops.
One for the future: Sky Calibre
Where: Under Development
Unique factor: World’s first (ok, second) vertical loop
This extreme ride creates 6G of G-Force as riders fly through the world’s first fully vertical loop. Ok, so isn’t in service yet but it’s worth a mention – because some day a waterpark might be crazy enough to commission it.
Already built and tested by Avalanche Waterslides and Sky Turtle Technologies, the radical design locks riders in a special capsule to keep them sucked to the 10m-high loop as they go around.
It was due to open in 2016 at Action Park (now Mountain Creek) in New Jersey – which had an accident-prone loop slide back in the 1980s and 1990s - but for unknown reasons (probably something safety related!) it never appeared. Watch this space...