Big Surf waterpark in Lake of the Ozarks

Big Surf waterpark, in Linn Creek, Missouri, is an exceptionally well-maintained waterpark at the Lake of the Ozarks, offering thrill levels appropriate for all ages and comfort zones.

Park Features:

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The wave pool

The centerpiece of the park is the wave pool, which runs ten minutes on and ten minutes off all day long. In the rest periods, it’s a massive zero-entry wading pool that, eventually, reaches a depth of 6 feet, though at least half of it is 3 feet or less. In the wave periods, you get deep swells and a few low breakers. The park rents single ($6) and double ($8) tubes, but truthfully we found good old-fashioned body surfing more fun—and easier on the stomach.

In this area of the park, music plays through loudspeakers, but unlike most pools and water parks, it’s kept to a good volume, loud enough to hear but not loud enough to have to shout over.

For little ones

For the little ones, Big Surf has two play areas. The first, with zero entry ranging up to about 18 inches deep, is aimed at little ones, with teeter totters and ride-on animals that squirt water, plus short open slides and even a bouncy swing for babies. The other, which reaches 4 feet deep, is aimed at the preschool/young elementary crowd, with short tunnel slides and a lily pad jungle gym.

For the more adventurous set

For the older crowd, the park offers five adventure rides. Several of these require riders to be 48 inches tall. The least intense involves riding an inner tube down a twisty slide and then bouncing through a series of short rapids separated by pools. The two most intense are the Space Bowl (think of a spiral wishing well, where you insert a coin and it rolls around on centrifugal force until it falls down the center) and Zambezi Falls, which involves a near-vertical drop. Where tubes are required, they are provided by Big Surf, and they are color coded for use in different areas of the park.

Lazy river

Threading between the adventure rides and the kiddie area is the Lazy River, which, along with the wave pool, was the favorite for our set of preschool- and elementary-age kids.

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Other considerations:

The water in the park is crystal clear, and the grounds and walkways are exceptionally clean and well maintained. One especially nice feature is the large (free!) supply of infant, child, and youth sized life jackets. Amusement parks can be chaotic, and having the extra layer of security added a lot to our peace of mind. The park is well-staffed with lifeguards, too, although signage is quick to emphasize that you still bear primary responsibility for your kids’ safety.

Three-sided tents are available for rent around the edges of the park, and there are many tables with umbrellas and lounge chairs lining the wave pool and the kids’ areas. You can also rent lockers in which to keep wallets, keys, and phones.

If everybody gets tired of water play, there’s also a small basketball court, playground, and sandbox on an upper level.

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Food/Shopping:

Outside food and drink are not allowed inside the park, but re-entry is permitted, so you can bring lunch and leave it in the car. A concession stand serves hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, and pizza as well as ice cream, pretzels, and funnel cakes. Meal combos are available. A gift shop sells branded merchandise at the entrance.

Hours/Admission:

Big Surf is open daily all summer and Saturday and Sunday until mid-September. Inclement weather closures are announced on the website header, Facebook and Twitter.

Single day tickets run $29.95 for ages 11-59 and $24.95 for kids 4-10, with discounted rates for non-swimmers, after-3 admission, and more. If you’re in town for a few days, hang onto your full-priced ticket. It’s worth a 50% discount for a return trip on another day. Also follow their Facebook page for specials and discounts.

Location/Parking:

Big Surf is located next to Highway 54 at Linn Creek, MO, a few miles south of the Lake of the Ozarks. Parking is free.

Our family enjoyed Big Surf Waterpark as guests of the Tri-County Lodging Association’s Lake of the Ozark’s Hospitality Bank, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Kathleen Basi Freelance writer Kathleen Basi has lived her entire life in "flyover country," but she's an old pro at road trips, having taken the first of many extended driving vacations at the tender age of five. She's a huge proponent of letting kids see and experience the space between "here" and "there." Find her at http://kathleenbasi.com/blog/.

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