SoundWaves Water Park at Gaylord Opryland
SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville offers year-round water park fun for families!
SoundWaves is a new indoor/outdoor waterpark connected to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. SoundWaves is available to overnight hotel guests who book the SoundWaves Water Experience Package. To ensure a comfortable experience, there is a maximum capacity for the park each day, so we recommend booking farther in advance when possible. (If you reserve the package you will be guaranteed admittance.)
Free admission and lodging were provided in exchange for our honest review.
Here’s a peak into our experience:
My daughter and I were joined by a friend and her daughter for this getaway. From downtown Louisville, the drive took approximately 2 hrs and 45 minutes. Upon check-in at the Gaylord Opryland Resort we were given soft, stretchy wristbands for the water park. They were comfortable but easily removable, so one must take care to keep track of it. You must scan your wristband upon entry and exit.
While there, you can take a short boat ride around the canal (fee) and learn about the history of Opryland. In addition to the regularly available family fun, Gaylord Opryland has summer programming especially for families. For 2021, the theme is pirates and princesses so there are shows, themed boat rides, themed teas, treasure hunts and more. Click here to see more what they have scheduled.
Indoor Water Park
Inside of SoundWaves, we were immediately met by warm air (84 degrees according the website). There is a large restroom with showers and changing rooms immediately on the left. Towels and life-jackets are free for use, but must be left in the park. Lockers are available for a fee. Also, there is a complimentary human dryer on this level which blows hot air, helping swimmers to dry off and remove extra moisture from swimsuits.
I immediately noticed the upscale feel of this water park. The appearance is very family friendly, yet not overpowered with kid-centric themes. There are decorative water features, palm trees and many types of plants and flowers, in keeping with the overall feel of the resort. The atrium roof allows the sun to shine through, giving the feeling of a warm tropical getaway. Note that sunscreen is recommended as the UV rays do penetrate the glass inside.
SoundWaves has a unique multi-level layout that allows for good visibility throughout the facility. That being said, there are also stairs or long ramps to navigate so keep that in mind when bringing small children. The areas for babies and smaller children is on an upper level. Babies/toddlers have their own little pool/splash area. Beside it there is a play structure geared toward preschooler – younger elementary age kids which includes spray features, multiple small slides and a big bucket that dumps water.
On the main floor, there is an activity pool, complete with a rock wall, basketball goals and a lily pad walk. There are also two rivers; a 2.5 ft deep lazy river for floating (single and double tubes provided), and a 3.5 ft deep rapid river which was my personal favorite. For the adventurous sort there is a double Flowrider which allows participants to ride the waves on a body board or mini surfboard! There are also water slides, including 2 body slides, 2 tube slides (choose a single or double tube) and one large raft slide for 4-5 riders. We tried them all and each one was a unique, fun experience!
For adults only, there is an infinity pool/bar on the top level. Just below, there is Decibels restaurant which offers a nice variety of high quality food, Pepsi products, beer and cocktails. I noticed family favorites such as pizza, burgers, chicken strips and fries, as well as fancy salads with goat cheese, wraps and even pulled pork nachos! Do not expect “value meal” pricing at Decibels. Gratuity is automatically added to each order which resulted in a $65 lunch consisting of three meals and two soft drinks. The portions are generous so meal sharing is recommended, especially for younger kids. Cups for water are provided free upon request.
Outdoor Water Park
The outdoor water park is also included in SoundWaves tickets. I encourage families to go to the outdoor pools right when it opens if you would like to grab some lounge chairs near the water under an umbrella. There was ample seating when we were there and it was nice to set up a ‘home base’ for taking breaks from swimming.
The wave pool was the biggest hit for our family. There is a giant screen playing music videos throughout the day with a variety of music, some taking us back to our own teenage days. The wave pool was LARGE so you are not crowded in to the pool or bumping into people often.
The children’s water area was just the right size. It has interactive sprayers and little slides. And, of course, a large bucket to dump water and make a big splash. Next to the children’s pool was a set of slides. They had two body slides for the thrill-seekers and two more moderate slides (in steepness). For those slides, you rode on a mat face-first holding onto handles on the mat.
There was also an adult-only pool that was contained by lots of greenery so it was a bit more private. And, there were two bars, one of which had a food truck for basic bar food. But, they did not have ice cream! We fulfilled out ice cream cravings later in the evening with gelato in the hotel.
Our overall impressions of the SoundWaves were very positive. Both of our daughters are eager to return! The facility is upscale, clean, bright and open. The air and water temperatures were comfortable, which has not always been my experience at indoor water parks. I’m sensitive to chemicals but, thankfully, I did not experience a strong chemical odor at SoundWaves.
We noticed plenty of lifeguards and they were very attentive. The park was not overly crowded and the lines for slides were not long on our visit, especially during the morning hours.
When we weren’t inside SoundWaves, we spent a lot of time walking around the Gaylord Opryland Resort. This was my first visit and I was surprised at the sheer size of it! And, if you explore during the day, be sure to walk around in the evening as well. When it is dark out, the place takes on a different, magical look.
Even with a map it was difficult to get our bearings and find our way around at times. I would definitely recommend a stroller for young children, though you will have to detour around the stairs and escalators.
The atrium roof lets in the natural light, allowing for beautiful gardens throughout. There are waterfalls, a river complete with a boat ride (additional charge) and multiple fountains. At one large fountain there is an hourly show in the evening, complete with lights, dancing water sprays and music! There are several shops selling souvenirs, sundries, gifts and other unique items and a wide variety of restaurants, markets and coffee shops.
In addition to all of the above, Gaylord Opryland Resort features a spa, swimming pools and fitness center which we did not have a chance to check out on this visit. We did visit the newest arcade which is located near SoundWaves. It features a multi-story rockwall, a few arcade games, two pool tables and a dark ride. It would be very easy to spend a large sum of money in this arcade in a short period of time. Our girls played a game that cost $3 per player and their game play only lasted for two minutes. On the flip side, the four of us played a table hockey game that only cost $1 and lasted several minutes per round. Choose carefully!
The cost of dining inside the resort can add up, but if you do a little price shopping and research in advance you can cut costs. Some of the meals are quite large, so sharing food is an option. Counter service restaurants tend to be more budget friendly than table service establishments, though there are some lovely table service restaurants that may be worth splurging on for a special night.
For breakfast, in Cascades, they have a buffet breakfast that is popular. It is $22 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under. Arrive before 8:30am for less of a line on the weekends. There were many hot options like biscuits and gravy, waffles, and the breakfast staples you expect. Then, they had grits and oatmeal, fruit and many pastries to choose from. They gave us a to-go coffee, which was much appreciated! We ate enough that we skipped right through lunch because we were still full.
For dinner, we decided to eat a thrifty dinner so we could enjoy some frozen yogurt after our meal. Our party of four was able to eat for just $21 by ordering a whole pizza from Paisano’s Pizzaria & Vino and drinking complimentary water.
We grabbed a table nearby, right in front of the large fountain and enjoyed the fountain show during dinner! Also, since there are fridges in the rooms, we opted to bring muffins, fruit and yogurt from the grocery store to eat inside our room for breakfast one morning.
After a busy day, we enjoyed the comfort of our sparkling clean room, which had a balcony view of the atrium gardens. Less expensive rooms with an exterior view are also available. Our room had two comfortable queen beds, a desk, a mini fridge, tea and coffee/coffeemaker, WiFi, satellite TV with ability to log into one’s personal Netflix account and a full bath plus an extra vanity with sink. There is no microwave so keep that in mind if you plan to bring snacks or meals.
We spent 2 nights at Gaylord Opryland and never stepped outside of the resort. There is so much to see and do, and it’s an easy drive from Louisville. It really is a super fun way to spend a long weekend or get away for a special celebration. If you want to spend more time outside, you can go to the Parthenon replica and spend time at Centennial park, it’s very nice!
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