Water, water everywhere... for summer fun

06/07/2013  | 

The words “Central Florida” may conjure up thoughts of theme parks and attractions - but Central Florida’s Polk County, conveniently located between Orlando and Tampa, also offers cool and refreshing water-based fun and adventure. Blessed with 554 lakes, Polk County has been recognized as both the Water Ski Capital and the Largemouth Bass Capital of the World. These sparkling natural lakes have been a star attraction dating back to World War II, when Cypress Gardens improvised its’ first water ski show to entertain tourists and soldiers home on leave. Anglers enjoy the same pristine waters for world class fishing.

Would half a million gallons of water be enough to keep you feeling cool and refreshed this summer? LEGOLAND® Florida Water Park has more than that in their LEGO Wave Pool alone. Other water park attractions include the Build-A-Raft River, the Twin Chasers, Splash Out, Joker Soaker and the DUPLO Splash Safari. The water park operates seasonally, a 2012 addition to LEGOLAND Florida, which opened in Winter Haven in 2011. In becoming Florida’s newest theme park, LEGOLAND Florida preserved the history of Florida’s first... Cypress Gardens. The new 150 acre attraction is built on the site of the former Cypress Gardens and retains the world renowned botanical gardens of the original property. LEGOLAND Florida carries on another tradition of its predecessor - daily water ski shows - but with a new LEGO and pirate-themed flair. For Summer 2013, the world’s largest LEGOLAND park will unveil a major expansion - The World of Chima presented by Cartoon Network. Based on the new product line, LEGO® Legends of ChimaTM, the centerpiece of the new World of Chima is an interactive, family-friendly water ride called The Quest for CHI. CHI is a mystical energy source that flows through the Sacred Waters of Chima, giving life and energy to much of the Kingdom. Guests will board a watercraft for an interactive experience using water cannons to help Chima’s Lion Tribe in an epic battle to recover stolen CHI orbs. LEGOLAND Florida offers free admission to active duty U.S. military personnel, now throughout 2013 - and discounts for accompanying family and friends. Contact your military base ticket office for details. For more on the LEGOLAND Florida Water Park, The World of Chima, the water ski show and all things LEGO, visit www.legolandflorida.com.

If seeing the LEGOLAND water ski show tempts you to try on a pair of skis yourself, you are in luck. The Water Ski Capital of the World is home to many water ski experts and champions. In Polk County, you can learn to water ski, wakeboard or even barefoot ski from masters of the sport. To select a water ski school, go to www.visitcentralflorida.org/find/sports/water-sports.

Maybe instead of skiing you’d rather don a water-powered jet pack and soar above the water like an aquatic James Bond. If so, Absolut Aqua Sports can make that dream a reality with an adventure experience called flyboarding. Flyboarding is true personal flight, perfectly realized by harnessing the power of controlled water pressure. Certified instructors train you, then direct your movement above water. Most first-timers are flying in 15 minutes with the throttle controlled by an instructor. You must be 18 or over to Flyboard. www.absolutaquasports.com.

Airboat tours are another great way to get out on to the water and stay cool. Enjoy the fresh breeze on your face as you skim across pristine lakes and waterways. Most tours welcome guests of all ages. These fast, flat-bottomed boats can take you into shallow areas not usually accessible by other means. Search out alligators, turtles, rare birds and more as you glide across the water. You might even catch a glimpse of an American Bald Eagle. Polk County is home to several outfitters that offer airboat tours but they can book up quickly so be sure to make advance reservations. www.visitcentralflorida.org/find/outdoor/airboat-tours.

Kayaking is another fun way to enjoy the water. Chain of Lakes Kayak Rentals (www.chainoflakeskayaks.com) in Lake Alfred has hourly kayak rentals and guided tours. The outfitter offers both single and tandem “sit on top” style kayaks, which are more convenient for novices.

For more information about all the unique and fun things to see and do in Central Florida’s Polk County, go to www.VisitCentralFlorida.org, follow us on Twitter (@VisitCentralFL) and Like Us on Facebook (Facebook.com/VisitCentral-Florida).
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