What to expect at the Evergreen waterpark

Melissa Robles is a lifeguard at the Evergreen museum's Wings & Waves waterpark.
Melissa Robles is a lifeguard at the Evergreen museum's Wings & Waves waterpark.

Children and adults are splashing in the waves. A helicopter hovering nearby dumps buckets of water on unsuspecting people on a playground. A mammoth two-story big screen displays videos. There’s a Boeing 747 on a roof.

Can all this be in one place?

It’s all inside the Wings & Waves Waterpark at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

The waterpark, which opened in 2011, features four slides originating inside the airplane on the roof. The wave pool pushes constant  tidal action toward the shallow end. The helicopter is replica and the big screen offers the opportunity to learn some fun facts while at play.

“There are a lot of things to do here,” says lifeguard Melissa Robles. “The waterpark is really great when it comes to family fun and being educational. There’s a museum upstairs with hands-on things kids can do and learn. That’s fun.”

You might not think about learning while at a waterpark but incorporating an educational message is at the core of the Evergreen museum mission.

“Things also relate to being green and using energy wisely,” Melissa says. “We put two great things together. We don’t just fill the water slides and tell you to go have fun. We tell you how the slides were made and how they put an airplane on top of the building. They let you explore and use your imagination.”

Melissa, a McMinnville High School senior, says one of her favorite waterpark thrills to slide from inside the airplane. “The four main slides start from the middle of the airplane where you would expect to find emergency exits. Some of the slides let you see out and you feel like you’re jumping out of an airplane.”

And the view is pretty nice, too. “On a good day you can see Mt. Hood,” she says.

It’s easy to think this is a place for children. Melissa knows otherwise.

“When parents come down a slide or they play with the kids on the playground, you can tell they are getting something out of it, too,” she says. “Their faces light up. It’s for everybody. Everybody gets to be a kid again.”

- Dan Shryock

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