Any “Bill and Ted’s” fans will agree: Every town named Waterloo should have an excellent waterpark. Luckily, Iowa’s very own Waterloo delivers. Lost Island Waterpark has been attracting families to Waterloo since 2001, and has developed a legion of fans that helped earn it the title of Best Outdoor Waterpark in the country in 2020 by USA Today (in 2022, it’s ranked No. 2).
Disclosure: My visit to Lost Island Waterpark was complimentary so I could write about it.
What to expect at Lost Island Waterpark
The waterpark has a mix of water slides that require inflated tubes or mats, as well as some smaller slides that are just sit-and-slide types. There are more than a dozen slides that range from extreme thrill levels to more family-friendly thrills.
There’s also Tsunami Bay wave pool, which is best enjoyed on one of the see-through inner tubes, as well as a lazy river float trail called Kailahi River. Both of those areas are packed the whole day except, maybe, that final hour open.
Kailahi River had the best design and atmosphere of the whole park. There were tropical plants, waterfalls, island music playing throughout, and just an overall well-done experience. Even with crowds of people on tubes, it managed to stay relaxing.
For me, at least. My son thought it was too crowded.
There is tons of seating, though snagging a shaded spot takes a lot of luck. Or money – there are cabanas to rent. The cabanas are popular and all of them were booked when we went on the weekend.
Lost island has a few extreme waterslides that set the waterpark apart from other smaller waterparks. Among them is Molokini Crater. We called it the “toilet bowl” slide, but I think the more accurate description is a funnel waterside.
There were several disclaimers for those waiting in line. I skipped it. Obviously. My kids tried it, though. (They reported back that it was a little rough of a ride, so I think I made the right decision).
There’s also Lost Souls Falls, a waterside with a free fall at 28 feet per second. It’s not for the faint of heart.
You may have heard there are mermaids at Lost Island Water Park. None were spotted while we were there.
Tip: There’s also a post I wrote for Oh My! Omaha with tips on what to expect for Lost Island Theme Park.
Best things for kids at the waterpark
The waterpark caters to families, and offers several play areas for even little ones. Three spots to take the kids: Starfish Cove, Blue Iguana Lagoon, and Tahiti Village.
My kids were 10 and 12, so they were able to do all rides, and enjoy some of the more low-key spaces. My daughter loved playing water volleyball and trying to do the water obstacle course path.
And that wave pool. Man, kids love the wave pool. There seems to be long breaks between waves sessions, which tests kids’ patience. I’m fine with that.
If you are a breastfeeding mom at the park, there isn’t an obvious spot for you to feed your baby. They recommend going to Guest Services and they’ll get you a private space. Or just feed that baby as you see fit.
What is there for adults who don’t like water slides?
I’m a bit anxious about water, and have long avoided the most extreme water slides. Wedgies aside, I just don’t like the feeling of not being safely strapped into anything.
So, at Lost Island, I spent the majority of my time floating along Kailahi River, the lazy river in the park.
The waterpark does serve alcoholic beverages, and for those of us who can’t fly to a tropical island, it is a good substitute to have a cold beverage while surrounded by palm trees (fake ones but I’ll take it).
My ideal scenario would be having a cabana for the day, and flitting between the lazy river and one of the more low-key waterslides.
Are there changing rooms at the waterpark?
Yes. Lost Island Water Park has The Bathhouse, right be the entrance. You can change in there as well as shower.
They also have a family bathroom.
What can you eat at Lost Island Waterpark?
The pizza place seemed to be one of the busier dining options, though I mainly stuck to the sweet treats stand. They had ice cream cones, ice cream sandwiches, and even Dole Whip for those Disney fans. For pizza, though, you can get by-the-slice or a whole pizza.
There were a few other eateries with typical waterpark fare, as well as chips and other snack options at the bar and gift shop.
Where do you put your stuff at the waterpark?
I felt pretty comfortable leaving our bags at our lounge chairs. However, there are lockers available.
How much does it cost to go to Lost Island Waterpark?
You can buy tickets online or in-person, and I highly recommend the online option tot save a couple of dollars. Admission is $39 in-person no matter the day of the week or time of year, but if you buy online, a weekday fee will be less expensive, especially early or later in season.
I recommend getting the Island Hopper pass to visit the theme park nearby. It’s pretty reasonable.
If you only do the waterpark, one day should be enough, but if you do both, one day is pretty tough to fit it all in.
Island Hopper details (as of July 2022)
Single Day Island Hopper
- Adult & Children: $55
Two-Day Island Hopper (must be consecutive days, valid for one admission at each park)
- Adult & Children: $69
Is anything free at the waterpark?
Yes! The good news is that the inner tubes are free. And, for the beginner swimmers, there are free life vests.
Parking is also free.
My tips for visiting Lost Island Waterpark
I’ve only been once, so I’m not an expert. These are just a few things I observed while we were there that I think would be helpful to know about for any visiting family:
- Bring empty water bottles and fill them up once in the park. This will save you money and also keep you hydrated and cool. The cafes will refill your water bottle or you can look for water fountains near the restrooms.
- Decide on a meet-up place should you and the rest of your group get separated. Pick it before you do anything else in the park.
- Bring sandals or flip flops. The cement gets HOT.
- It’s a good deal to get the Island Hopper Pass, so you can visit both the theme park and waterpark. It’s also a lot less expensive than visiting each place separately.
- However, these two parks aren’t side-by-side and you will need to drive to each of them. But the good thing is that you don’t have to carry your pool stuff with you through the theme park.
Where is Lost Island Waterpark?
Lost Island Theme Park and Lost Island Waterpark are in Waterloo, Iowa, one the state’s top 10 biggest cities. It’s located in northeast Iowa, though more central than cities like Decorah. It’s about 82 miles from Iowa City and 130 miles from Des Moines.
There is a putt putt golf course and go-karts on the property, but they are an additional fee.
The waterpark is less than a mile from the new Lost island Theme Park (they do not share a parking lot). It’s also really near Isle Casino Hotel.