What to expect from a visit to Waterbom park in Bali
Away from the rice paddies and the temples, Michael Ward and his family experience the adrenaline rush of a waterslide, or two.
- June 2018
The Balinese waterslide attendant is smiling. But it is a knowing smile.
Twenty metres and 200 steps above me is a waterslide called the Climax.
“First time?” the guy asks, reading my apprehension with professional ease. I try to grin, but it’s more like a grimace. He laughs: “See you soon!”
Here’s what happens on the Climax: you step into an open chamber at the top of an almost vertical tube. Next, the upper half of the chamber closes over you, sealing you inside (did someone say coffin?). A moment later, the floor disappears and you’re hurtling towards the ground at 70 km/hr . Then you are propelled around a horizontal 360-degree loop, the physics of which are supposed to slow you down (yeah, right). Finally, you’re spat out the end of the tube amid a spray of water.
The Climax lasts seven seconds.
I start my climb up the tower, but with every step I can’t help wondering what I am doing here. This is the first time my wife and I have taken our young family overseas. As much as we’ve tried to foster their interest in Bali’s temples and volcanoes, fire dances and rice fields, it’s Kuta’s Waterbom water park that looks set to be the highlight of our children’s holiday.
The park opened in 1993, boasting more than a dozen waterslides set amongst 3.8 hectares of lush, landscaped gardens. It’s an oasis amid Kuta’s frantic buzz; a welcome escape from the heat and the traffic.
We begin the day lounging on inflatable orange tubes, drifting past jungle waterfalls on the sedate Lazy River. Afterwards, while my four-year-old daughter frolics on some toddler-friendly slides, I escort my twin six-year-old boys to the mouth of the Constrictor, a bright green waterslide billed as the longest in the world. They love it.
Gravity, of course, is essential to any waterslide. And for gravity to do its thing, height is necessary. That means lots of steps, which is fine, except that I quickly find myself lugging my own bright orange inflatable tube, and the boys’ tubes. With one tube around my neck and the other two encircling my shoulders, I look like the Michelin Man with a fake tan.
After the Constrictor, there are the Green Vipers, the pale blue Pipeline and the Python, but higher up the waterslide tower await the Fast ‘n’ Fierce and Smash Down 2.0. They require stronger nerves.
The Fast ‘n’ Fierce combines speed and speed bumps for an unexpectedly airborne experience. But the adrenaline rush is all over in a handful of seconds, and I’m left with board shorts wedged a little further up my waist than is comfortable. Unluckily (or luckily) for the boys, they’re restricted from the Fast ‘n’ Fierce due to the 122cm height requirement.
After lunch, the kids take to the Funtastic aquatic playground and I investigate two of Waterbom’s more unconventional waterslides.
Swirling within the enormous orange and yellow Superbowl is akin to being flushed down a more familiar kind of bowl, speed and centrifugal force spinning me around the rim repeatedly until I decelerate enough to gurgle down the final tube. I hoot like a loon.
The Boomerang is next door, its sudden 20-metre drop propelling my inflatable raft out of the tube, into the open air and up an enormous curved wall. I fear I’m about to sail right over the wall’s edge. I’m clambering from the water after a third fling when the rest of the family appear.
“Hey, who wants to go on Lazy River again?” I ask.
“What about that one Dad?” asks one of my sons, pointing. My chest tightens. He’s talking about the Climax. “Go on Dad!” goads my other son. Now the kids are all looking at me expectantly. I turn and look up at the Climax. From the top of its tower comes a muffled shriek.
“Okay guys,” I hear myself saying huskily. “Check this out.” The kids beam. My wife rolls her eyes.
I ascend the steps, trying to concentrate on the view. Kuta from above appears swathed in greenery. The sea sparkles in the distance.
A dozen thrill seekers wait at the top. I can see the kids far below. What’s preferable, sheer terror or mild humiliation, I wonder?
There’s another squeal of fear ahead of me as the floor disappears beneath the next thrillseeker’s feet. The line inches forward. My descent via the stairs only takes a minute. The Balinese guy is still smiling, but the kids look disappointed. An anti-Climax.
“Sorry, the line was too long,” I mumble. The kids peer at the Climax and then back at me.
“Were you scared Dad?” asks my daughter.
“No, no, I just didn’t want to keep you waiting. Now, um, who wants an ice cream?”
But the kids aren’t buying it. Not for a moment.
Jalan Kartika Plaza,
Tuban, Kuta, Badung
+62 361 755676
Open daily from 9am to 6pm.