Lounging on the tube as I floated the lazy river, it really felt as if it couldn’t get any better. The sun shone on us, a slight breeze kept the temps comfortable, and my worries disappeared with each passing minute. “Whitewater!” shouted my son, but I didn’t even open my eyes. “Bubble butt!”, which earned him a grin, but slothfully, the eyes remained shut.
We were on our 3rd or 4th trip on the lazy river at Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest waterpark, and life was good. The season is almost over, we had gotten to the park ahead of the crowds, and the only dilemma facing us was what to get for lunch. Well, almost the only dilemma.
My son is scared of many things, hesitant to attempt new things, but then all over it once he gets over his initial trepidation. Raging Waves is set almost perfectly for overcoming those fears, with play areas from toddler to youth to the big rides for all those big and brave enough. We got turned away from the toddler area as he has grown a bit over the maximum height requirement, which was a minor setback on building his confidence that day. But it ultimately didn’t matter, as we had 2 things in our favor: time to build up courage and 2 more passes to come back another day.
We had been told, by another son and also by a lifeguard during our visit, that Crocodile Mile was the way to go when making the jump to the big leagues. We wandered over, spent some time watching others come down on their colorful rafts, and then wandered some more, comparing it to other rides. An easy comparison is its neighbor, Wonambi, with its steep drop and slide up a wall before a return to the safety of ground level. Compared to that, Crocodile Mile seemed almost tame.
Lunch gave us a good opportunity to talk about what plans were for the remaining time and, somewhat surprisingly, Crocodile Mile was given the green light. A float on the lazy river confirmed we could try it and off we went. Probably the most difficult part of any of these rides (besides building up the courage) is climbing the endless stairs to get to the top. On the positive side, it did help to work off some of the lunch we’d eaten.
Not once, not twice, but FOUR times we ventured up those stairs and down Crocodile Mile. Each time, the rictus of death eased a little bit and by the last ride, smiles and woops of laughter replaced the initial fear. Unfortunately, my son’s fear meant I rode down the tube backwards and, by the fourth go-round, I was starting to feel a bit queasy, so 4 became the cut-off point.
Another loop of the lazy river, an attempt at the slides in Kangaroo Falls (an area with slides, water cannons, rope bridges, water hoses and a dumping bucket) and we both agreed it was time to go. What a fun way to spend a few hours together and build some more bonds. As we walked to the car, we immediately began planning our next trip and wondering just how brave we’d be.
*Passes were provided to us by the Aurora, Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau – all opinions are my own.
Want a bigger challenge? How about kayaking on Lake Michigan?