It’s summer. It’s hot out there in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The only thing worthy of doing outside in this heat is getting in a pool! Or … multiple pools. When my friend Kelsey was recently visiting from L.A., we decided that we, two adult ladies without children, would escape the heat by going to Safari Joe’s H20… the destination formerly known as Big Splash.
Let me give you a little history here. I grew up in Tulsa. Many a summer in the 1980s and 1990s were spent at Big Splash, burning my skin on their tubes, which were formerly black (bad idea!) and getting the worst wedgies ever as I zipped down the Silver Bullet. Alas, my final trip to Big Splash was circa 1999 when I went with some fellow teenage friends and decided that I was officially “too cool” for Big Splash.
Now that I’m in my 30’s, pregnant, and hot all the time this summer, I’m not “too cool” for anything. Plus, I was curious to see how Safari Joe’s is different/better than Big Splash, so with Kelsey in tow, we made our way to Safari Joe’s on a Saturday after 4 p.m. to take advantage of the Short Swim for $10/person.
When we walked into the water park, we were immediately greeted by all sorts of wildlife — a huge snake (in a cage, thank God!), a tiny alligator (also in a cage), a huge tortoise, and all kinds of birds. There was even a parrot just hanging out in one of the trees. These are some fun additions Safari Joe’s has made that make it a little different than your typical water park.
We immediately made our way to the Tube Lagoon to rent a tube and a locker. Be forewarned: this is where you’ll probably end up spending a lot of money. It’s $6.50 for a single tube and $9.50 for a double tube, and you get a $1 refund upon return. Lockers range from $11-$16, with a $5 refund upon key return. The thing is, you can’t really skimp out on not renting a locker, unless you have someone in your group who is willing to sit and watch cell phones and other valuables while everyone else is in the pool. And a couple of the rides are just more fun if you have a tube! So we had to get both.
Our favorite spot at Safari Joe’s ended up being the Master Blaster. It’s a tube roller coaster, and it is truly a blast. We actually broke the rules by riding it because we noticed a sign that said “2 adults not allowed in double tube; weight limit 250 lbs.” I’m pretty sure this is the first time in either of our lives that we’ve been over the weight limit for something, but with this baby growing in me, I am definitely not model thin right now. Nonetheless, we made it on the ride twice without getting kicked out and had an amazing time going over twists and turns in our tube and finally landing in the Lazy River.
I do have one complaint about the Lazy River. When you utter the words, “Lazy River”, to me, that should equal complete and utter relaxation. Not the case with this Lazy River. There’s a spot in the river with a huge waterfall-type feature where you will be soaked. If you’re in a tube, you can’t move super fast, so you’ll be soaked for a good 10 seconds. Consider yourself forewarned!
Other big attractions at Safari Joe’s are the Flumes, three slides that are four stories high, the Tiny Turtle Lagoons, pools that have only 8 inches of water in them for the little ones, and the Activity Pool, a great spot to sunbathe, zip down a small slide, or climb a rock wall.
Safari Joe’s H20 has added on quite a few “play” areas that I don’t remember there being at Big Splash, like a pirate ship playground. There are also basketball and volleyball courts.
One of my favorite areas of all time has always been the wave pool. There, you can imagine you’re surfing the high seas on your tube (or if you’re really brave, just hop your body on top of the waves). It’s really only wise for experienced swimmers to go in the deep end of this pool … there’s a reason why they have 5-6 lifeguards on duty just in this one pool usually!
There are also plenty of concession options at Safari Joe’s. One of my favorite Tulsa summer spots just opened a location within Safari Joe’s: Josh’s Sno Shack! A snow cone while sitting by the pool is an amazing combo. Other food options include Peg Leg Pizza and Ocean View
Cafe. There’s also The Shark Beach Bar for the adults. Speaking of adults, Safari Joe’s hosts an Adult Night (21+) every Thursday from 7-11 p.m. There’s live music, dancing, and of course, lots of bar time and swimming.
Safari Joe’s is open until through Labor Day, so make the most of this summer and go check it out!