My first visit to a California water park with chronic pain! See if Wet’n Wild in Palm Springs was worth the visit!
I must admit my experience with water parks is extremely limited. As a teen, I frequented Big Surf in Tempe, AZ. At that time all they had was the large wave pool and a kiddie area. Of course, now they have the giant slides and water attractions like all the other water parks. As my conditions progressed, I knew that I would never be able to handle the steps and/or hills in order to try any of these attractions, so I never thought about going to a water park. That is until this past weekend. My family, a group of friends, and I headed out to Palm Springs for a fun day at Wet ‘n Wild water park.
I did a little research before agreeing to this outing. I wanted to make sure there would be at least one thing I could do there besides sit in the
heat. And yes, it was stinking hot out there in the desert. My
research showed that there were a wave pool and a lazy river along with the various slides. Thinking the wave pool would be like the one at Big Surf, I decided that I would probably be spending most of my time in the Lazy River.
The mountain views that surround this park are spectacular. They almost made me forget just how hot it was. Knowing that I would soon be immersed in water also helped.
Wet’n Wild wheelchair accessibility
The parking lot was flat and easy to maneuver my wheelchair through. The challenges arose after we entered the gate. I could not find one flat walkway. Hills, inclines, declines, and sideways slopes made the task of pushing me extremely hard for my husband. It didn’t take long to realize that there was no way I could have gotten around without assistance.
Because the majority of our group had planned on relaxing in the lazy river we decided to claim an area of chairs near the river entrance as our base for the day. To access the lazy river you must go over a steep bridge to an island area. Because this island had a food stand, I assumed it would also have a restroom. Wrong! All restrooms were located outside the river run island. This meant needing to have someone push me over the bridge every time I needed to use the restroom. With everyone else in our group off enjoying the other attractions, I was thankfully able to wait until we gathered to eat before needing to use the restroom.
The River Run
Minus the need to cross over the steep bridge the river run is handicap friendly. There is a lift to assist those who can’t transfer down a couple of steps into the water. They also have plenty of lifeguards on hand to assist with obtaining an inner tube. With so many lifeguards stationed on the river my fear of not having the strength to exit was calmed.
My problem with the river run was the inner tubes themselves. I liked that they offered inner tubes of various sizes. What I didn’t like is that they were all extremely thick. No matter what size I picked or what position I sat, leaned, or lay in my shoulders were always being stretched and I wasn’t able to find a position that would allow me to rest my neck. I decided to exit the river run after the pain in my neck went from unpleasant to feeling like my head was going to snap off.
The Wave Pool
After we ate I decided to check out the wave pool. The only downside was the steep hill to enter the wave pool area. I was pleased that the pool wasn’t as big nor had the giant waves of the water park I went to as a teen. Seeing that this was a tame version, I decided to join my husband and daughter for some fun.
We grabbed our inner tubes and worked our way to the deep end. At this point, my body was in the water and I had my arms draped over the sides to keep me afloat. While we were floating around waiting for the next set of waves to begin my shoulders suddenly went weak. No matter how hard I tried I lacked the strength to keep my arms over the tube. Thankfully I was able to grip onto the inner tube handles before slipping deeper into the water. With my hands holding tightly I tried to kick my way back to the shallow area. As luck would have it, my legs would not cooperate.
I am sure I would have drowned if it hadn’t been for the handles on the inner tube. I cried out to my family, begging for help. At first, they thought I was joking. I began to panic as my arms and hands grew weaker. Once they realized that I was serious they were able to push me towards the shallow end. I decided to keep cool by sitting in the shallow end while I waited for my family to finish riding the waves. It wasn’t until they finished that I was able to fully explain why I was in such a rush to get to shallow waters.
Not feeling Wet’n Wild
At this point, I was in agony from the pain in my shoulders. I had brought along some instant ice packs. Knowing that icing my shoulders would help, I activated one and applied it to the area that hurt the most. Note that instant ice packs are useless when you are outside in temperatures over 100 degrees. Within five minutes my cold ice pack was nothing more than warm water.
I spent our last hour and a half lying on a towel under a tree. There aren’t many shaded areas in the park, so I was thankful to find a spot to plant myself. This gave my family more time to enjoy the slides. With the heat being just a tad bit more tolerable than being in the sun, I considered going back into the lazy river. Of course, the pain that shot through my shoulders after the simple act of reaching for my phone, made me realize that I wouldn’t be able to handle having them spread over an inner tube. Luckily I didn’t have to wait much longer before my family decided they were ready to leave.
What I would do differently
Overall it was a fun day spent with family and friends. But to make it an even better experience next time I will make some changes. First is that I will be sure to rent a cabana. This way I and anyone else in our party can have a shaded place to rest.
The second will be to limit how long I spend in the lazy river. Instead of floating for an extended period of time, I will break it up into 15-20 minute increments. I will also pay better attention to my body by stopping the moment the pain in my neck and shoulders begins. Of course, I may find that my muscles can’t handle the inner tube for any amount of time. If that happens I will have to be content with resting in a cabana and occasionally sitting in the shallowest end of the wave pool to cool off.
I have also learned that they provide life jackets for adults as well as children. This may allow me to feel safe enough to go a little farther into the wave pool. Whether or not I am able to enjoy the attractions doesn’t really matter. The highlights of my day were watching my friends and family and hearing about their experiences on the various slides.
I hope you enjoyed my pictures of the park and that my experience will help you decide whether or not this particular water park is one that you would be able to enjoy.
Wet ‘n Wild is located at 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92264.