Kid or not, driving up to the Evergreen Wings and Waves Waterpark is cool.
Don’t believe me? Where else can you drive up to a building and see a 747 sitting on top of a building? That’s what I thought.
If you want to be a hero for your kids, have a blast of a time, and even learn something in the process, the waterpark is a required visit if you find yourself in the Yamhill Valley. Let’s be honest, if you are going to take your kids (or your spouse even) to wineries, art galleries and museums in the area, you might as well enjoy one of the most exciting and educational attractions in Oregon.
Personally my favorite is the H2O Hands on Science Center in the water park – yes, it isn’t just a bunch of kids screaming as they fly down waterslides, this place, located next to the Evergreen Aviation Space and Science Museum, is just as educational as its next-door neighbor. From seeing how life needs water, to the power water has when you get it under pressure, there are more than 20 interactive lessons kids, and adults, can play with – all while in your bathing suit.
But let’s talk about the obvious attraction, the slides. There are slides for every comfort – or discomfort – level at the water park. You can go crazy down the monster Mach 1. Yes, it feels that fast – and with switchbacks, tight corners and sudden drops, it feels like you are riding with Chuck Yeager during his hey-day. While that is the F-22 Raptor of waterslides, there are many other more mellow slides, even ones for smaller kids. There are a total of 10 in all, and there is even a 91,000 gallon wave pool. Wading pools and even a play structure gives you the opportunity to spend the whole day slip-sliding in the waterpark.
The highlight for anyone who loves aviation, or just simply things that are cool, is the fact that four big slides begin inside the Boeing 747 on top of the building. The slides start more than 60 feet above the pools, so even the less extreme slides give you a lot of fun and speed. The staff at the park say there are more than 2,000 feet of slide surface, but it whizzes by very quickly, so be prepared to ride the slides more than two or even three times.
For those parents who don’t like to get wet and scream while hurling at mach-speed down a tube, don’t worry. There is a nice café where you can watch the kids, relax and take in the fun and laughter that echoes through the more than 70,000 square-foot facility. There are family-friendly locker rooms and toddler areas with bubblers, fountains and even two slides of their own.
Speaking of parents, when I visited the park, I was concerned because I have two little girls, a very adventuresome 5-year-old and a more timid 8-year-old. My biggest concern was that the little one would get on one of the bigger slides and it would scar her for life. I was incredibly impressed with the staff at the park, as they made sure that all height requirements were met, and that little kids were not allowed to slide out of there appropriate area.
So the park is fun, safe, educational and an overall good time. If you are looking to wear the kids out while visiting the Yamhill Valley area, while at the same time teaching them something, the Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark is a great destination. Be warned though, once you visit, they won’t want to leave.
About the Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark:
At the non-profit Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark, children and adults will learn why “Life Needs Water” through experience, inspiration and education. The Waterpark is next to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, one of the greatest collections of aircraft and space artifacts in the world. Both the Waterpark and the Museum distinguish McMinnville as a premier location for learning about the power of science.
What to bring: Swim wear, towels and your sense of adventure and courage. Basically you need what you take to any day at the local pool.
Season: The waterpark is open year round and is an indoor facility (so no need to worry about the two Oregon seasons, rain and no rain). Hours vary depending on the season.
Tips: Take the amount of time you think you are going to spend at the Evergreen complex, both the waterpark and the great space and aviation museum a few hundred yards away, and triple it. There is so much to see and do that you can spend several days exploring everything. Let me put it this way, I live 25 minutes from the facility and love it there, I have visited probably more than 10 times and each time I still get something new out of the experience. If you are interested in airplanes, space or simply having fun, this is a must-visit destination in Oregon.
How to get there: Type into the GPS 460 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville and it should pop up. Otherwise, the museum is located 3.5 miles southeast of McMinnville on Highway 18 across from the McMinnville Municipal Airport. It is approximately one hour from Portland and 40 minutes from Salem.
By Patrick Johnson