A while back, December 2009 to be exact, my dad and I took my boys to visit the Evergreen Air & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Not long afterward, we read in the news that they were building an indoor waterpark there with a 747 up on top of the building. I've been curious and wanting to go check the place out since then. This weekend we made a trip down to Oregon and went to the Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark.
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): We had a fun time and I'm glad we went... once. In the end though, it's more cost-effective to go to the Great Wolf Lodge.
With the military discount, it cost us $100 for our four tickets to get in. We arrived on Saturday about 11 a.m. and departed around 5 p.m. In that time, we went down the slides 8 times, so that works out to about $12.50 per 30-second trip down the slide.
At the top of the 111 steps, this is inside the plane where the four main slides all begin. Note how they are color-coded - blue and orange on the left, yellow and green on the right. On their website, they have some pictures and videos, but the videos don't actually go down the slides. They just show people getting on the slide at the top and getting off the slide at the bottom.
1. Mach 1 (the orange slide) is a single-person, no inner-tube slide. However, they are pretty strict about their rules. First, NO swimsuits with any rivets or zippers are allowed. You have to do a slow spin around for the attendant at the waterslide for him to check out your suit and make sure you don't have any rivets or zippers. I saw one person walk up and had a simple rivet for a drain hole in his swimsuit pocket, and the attendant held out a pair of medical scissors and offered to cut off the pocket with the rivet, or the kid could choose not to go down the slide.
Second, NO "surf shirts" or swim shirts are allowed. This one really baffles me. I mean, the women are required to wear some sort of two-piece swim suit for "modesty" or to avoid any type of public indecency charges. A lot of the "tankini" style swim suits women wear don't seem much different than men's swim shirts. Guys who showed up wearing swim shirts were required to take them off and hold onto them in their hand while they went down the slide. What???
Oh yeah, and no shoes are allowed. Not even specialized "water shoes." If you have anything on your feet, then you have to take them off and hold them to your chest as you ride down the slide.
Also also, no cameras are allowed. That was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back and really started pissing me off about all their rules. I mean, seriously, it's a small, waterproof, point and click camera with a floating-strap on it. While I was well aware of the other rules because they're prominently posted everywhere at the cash register and at the bottom of the stairs and halfway up the stairs and at the top of the stairs, nowhere was there any mention of "no cameras allowed."
I had rivets for drain holes on my swim suit, and I didn't feel like blinding all the other patrons by taking off my swim shirt and exposing them to the glaring white reflection off my body, so I opted not to go on the Mach 1. Since they told me my camera wasn't allowed, I don't have many pictures to share from this day at the waterpark.
2. Sonic Boom (the yellow slide) you can ride down in either a single or a double inner-tube. This slide is an enclosed tube only from the airplane until the tube enters the building. Inside the building, the top half of the tube is open, so you can clearly see everything.
3. Tail Spin (the blue slide) is every similar to the yellow slide, but it's all enclosed tube and dark inside. It was sort of like a waterslide version of Space Mountain.
4. Nose Dive (the green slide) was pretty cool because it takes you through a few twists and turns but lets you build up speed and then spits you out into this big open bowl, and you fly around and around swirling down to the center like a toilet bowl. Eventually you go down the hole in the middle and the ride is over within about 5 seconds of going through the hole in the bottom.
Unfortunately, they didn't have enough inner tubes.
The place ended up getting pretty crowded. There were a couple of large groups there from the Boy Scouts and the Civil Air Patrol. We were fine from about 11 a.m. until about 1 p.m., but from then on, there was a line of at least 20-30 people waiting for inner tubes at the bottom of the water slides. The result was that coming off the water slide, you had to give up your inner tube to one of the attendants who handed your inner tube to someone waiting in line. Then you get in line to wait for your turn to have an inner tube again. After waiting in line for an inner tube, then you have to go up the stairs and wait in line to go on the slide.
In the end, we spent a lot of time waiting in line and rode the slides 8 times. In contrast, on our first day at the Great Wolf Lodge, we rode the slides 15 times.
They don't allow outside food or drinks. This didn't concern me before we went there. When we went to the museum back in 2009, I enjoyed the Cosmo Cafe at the museum so much, I created a separate Yelp listing for the cafe (you don't have to enter the museum to eat at the cafe). I figured the cafe at the waterpark would be similar.
It was a typical museum grill with cheap burgers and fries and Pepsi fountain sodas. Now, they have a really nice big grassy lawn outside the waterpark. In hindsight, I would recommend either (a) bring a picnic lunch to eat outside on the grass, or (b) walk across the parking lot to the Cosmo Cafe at the Space Museum.
I'm glad we went. We had fun. I liked the aerospace theme to this indoor waterpark and the educational aspects of the questions on the big screen over the wave pool and the small hands-on science center on the second floor. However, next time we are looking for an indoor waterpark adventure, it's more cost effective to go to Great Wolf Lodge where one night's stay at the lodge gets you two days' admission to the water park. GWL prevents getting overcrowded because you aren't allowed in the waterpark unless you're staying at the lodge. Evergreen was too crowded and we spent too much time waiting in line for a tube or waiting in line for a slide. The pool chemicals weren't as noticeable at GWL. The noise level was better without the music. There were more choices of things to eat, and you only needed your RFID wrist-band to pay for the food (no need to carry around your wallet inside the waterpark).
(Disclaimer: Nobody at GWL has given me any benefits or paid me anything for this or any previous blog post. These are my frank opinions.)