Take a break from the sun and the soaring temps with a plunge on Reptile Rush, Raptor Rapids or another of the water wonders at Safari Joe’s H2O where you’re never too cool (or old) for pool.
It’s summer in Tulsa, and that can mean only one thing — it’s high time for some wet and wild fun at Safari Joe’s H2O, where the glories of your childhood summer pasts can be shared and recreated with your children.
“One of the things we want to let Tulsa know is that we want to be a big part of the community,” explains Darcy Daniels, marketing manager for the water park. “We want to continue what Big Splash did, but for a new generation.”
If you haven’t lived in the area long, you might not know that Big Splash was a renowned name among Tulsans; the water park gave generations of wholesome, rejuvenating entertainment that kept families cool in the hot summer sun without requiring a trip to the lake. But the park was in decline, and the owners were ready to move on.
That’s when Joe Estes, owner of the Safari Joe’s Animal Sanctuary in Adair, stepped in. Estes purchased the park and has been renovating it. Safari Joe’s H2O, the park’s new name, opened to guests in summer 2016.
“We want to start all over again,” says Daniels as she shares the vision that will drive Safari Joe’s H2O as it grows. Plans are to roll out more new features every year for the next five years.
“We want Safari Joe’s to be this generation’s children’s stories and memories,” she says, just as its predecessor, Big Splash, was. “We want to be part of everyone’s summer stories.”
This year, says Daniels, the water park’s rides, the fun, and the family-filled memories are sure to be bigger and better than ever. One example of the 2017 summer expansion is the Reptile Rush. This set of three speed slides was not open last year, but this summer everyone can enjoy them.
“We’re relaunching them this year,” Daniels says. “That will be our signature slide.” From the top of Reptile Rush, you can enjoy a fabulous view of Tulsa. And each slide has its own unique shape so riders get a unique experience no matter what slide they choose. Try all three, and have a blast.
Another ride that you’ll enjoy is the Raptor Rapids, an updated and improved version of the old Big Splash Master Blaster. It’s Oklahoma’s only water roller coaster, and fans of the park love it. “We’ve added onto it with a slide at the end, extending it,” says Daniels. Other rides include a lazy tube ride on Rex’s River, fun in the H2O Wave Pool (it’s one of the biggest in the Southwest), the Flumes (another set of slides), the Tiny Turtle Lagoon (perfect for little children), and more.
If reptiles are your thing, and even if they aren’t, you still should visit the newly launched Reptile World. Located inside the water park, Reptile World gives children and adults alike a chance to see these wild creatures up close and personal, with special hands-on learning experiences led by experts. They’ll answer questions and show the animals both in the Reptile World building and outside in the main park during scheduled show times.
Other animal exhibits, which include tortoises and exotic birds, are free with park admission. “It’s a great additive to birthday parties,” Daniels says.
The park promises a host of family events as well. There will be family yoga every Monday — a way to draw in those who love to exercise outdoors and promote family wellness. “We’re going to have a family movie night too,” says Daniels. Both the yoga nights and the family movie nights are included with the cost of park admission, so there is no extra expense.
And don’t worry if you enjoyed the fun that Safari Joe’s H2O offered last year. Many events that did well in 2016 are returning in 2017.
First up is the Hot Rods and Reptiles Car Show. It takes place from noon to 6 p.m. on Father’s Day, a great way to celebrate dear old dad and have fun for the whole family too. In addition to the cars and the reptiles you can gander at, you’ll also enjoy live music, food, water park rides, a pinup girl contest, and a special guest appearance by none other than Brian Barczyk from SnakeBytesTV, AnimalBytesTV and Discovery channel’s series Venom Hunters. The Tulsa Roughneck Roller Derby team will be there, and Queen Jesseen, an Elvis tribute singer, will perform as well.
There will also be Teen Night every Tuesday night, starting May 30, from 7-10 p.m., for those 13 to 19. “K-HITS Radio will be out here,” says Daniels, “doing specials, discounts and giveaways.” Another big part of teen night is Morgan Ganem, a DJ and entertainer, who will perform live 8-10 p.m.
“It’s like a dance party,” says Daniels. “It’s really entertaining.”
On Thursday nights, the focus will be on giving grownups exclusive access to the park — a way to give singles as well as couples on a date night the opportunity to enjoy the water park sans children. All the water rides will be open for grownups only.
“The huge feature of Thursday nights is concerts all summer long,” says Daniels, “from DJs to red dirt bands and more, all free with paid admission to the park.”
Another feature you can enjoy anytime, but especially if you’re hanging around Thursday nights is the Shark Bar, which sells adult beverages. If you’re not in the mood for alcohol, however, you can easily enjoy the sweet taste of treats from Josh’s Sno Shack, the cheesy delights of Peg Leg Pizza and more.
The park even plans to help host a summer blood drive in partnership with the Oklahoma Blood Institute. Dates are still being finalized, but the event will bring OBI to the park with a mobile set up so anyone can give blood. “We’re also sponsoring their entire program,” says Daniels. It’s a way to give back to Tulsa.
And that’s what the fun at Safari Joe’s H2O is — community.
“Joe Estes is a family man,” she says. “He cares about the Tulsa community. We hope to attract people from other states and increase tourism. We want to be a part of your summer.”
Safari Joe's H2O Water Park
4707 E. 21st St. | Tulsa
Monday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Tuesday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Tuesday (Teen Night: ages 13-19): 7-10 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday (must be 21 to enter): 7-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-6 p.m.
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