GROWING UP IN THE NEVADA DESERT, nothing cut through the 110-degree stupor like a family outing to Wet and Wild, the local water park. Despite my debilitating fear of heights, precious few things kept me from trudging up the trillions of stairs, looking down, and immediately regretting my decision before being forcibly pushed into the tube by the burly guy regulating human pileups. It was all worth it for the rush of shooting out the bottom of the slide, flying a few feet, and performing a spectacular belly flop into the pool below.
But as I’ve grown older, the slides have seemed smaller, the ride less an epic adventure and more a soggy disappointment — so after my last sad, wet journey to some tiny water park in the middle of nowhere, I vowed to find a slide that lived up to the excitement, the fear, and the joy of my childhood.
Here are 18 of the world’s most insane, epic, and terrifying waterslides.