Best Place to Ditch the Kids for a Few Hours - 2008
Rapids Water Park
In the halcyon 1980s, our parents would ditch us kids after eating at a Chinese restaurant by saying, "Whoops! Locked our keys in the car!" Whereupon they would send us on a mission to walk two miles home, break in the window to fetch a spare set of keys, and walk back. This allowed them a full child-free hour or two of sipping mai-tais at the bar. Although this dirty trick may still come in handy, it would behoove you to remember that today's savvy kids know how to file child abuse complaints on the Internet. Hence, our parents' other maneuver: dropping us off at the Rapids Water Park — then a simple manmade hill with four yellow water chutes that dumped into a pool at the bottom. This glorified Slip 'n' Slide, was to us a perfect universe, fueled by adrenaline and ruled by an army of 18-year-old lifeguards. Now 30 years old, the Rapids has morphed into a serious aqua playground, with 29 water slides, including Big Thunder (sit in a four-person tube and drop into a giant funnel, much like being flushed down a toilet bowl) and Black Thunder (same concept, but in the dark). True, the $31.95 admission price sure isn't chump change, but Disney water parks cost $71 these days and babysitters are basically miniature extortionists. Besides, this way, your kids need not be "ditched" — they will joyously abandon you to frolic in the wave pool, cross a river on "ice floes," and take a seven-story drop on the Pirate's Plunge. Oh — did you actually want your kids to come back? Good luck with that!