Some of the first riders on the new 45-foot tall, four-lane mat racer at the park.

Some of the first riders on the new 45-foot tall, four-lane mat racer at the park.

/Anja Schlein/Special Contributor

My 3-year-old daughter lay back as we bobbed in a tube on the Lazy River at the Frisco Athletic Center, closing her eyes and grinning.

"This is the life," she said.

I had to agree. The center's $6 million outdoor water park is road-trip-worthy bargain ($12 for an adult day pass, $10 for ages 2-17). It's not huge, but our four hours there went by quickly and ended only because of parental fatigue (the kids in our group were still raring to go). Here are five things to know before you go:

1. Attractions

The attractions include a 45-foot-tall, four-lane mat racer called Preston Plunge as well as the Fort, a multilevel water playground bursting with 85 water features and three slides. The Lazy River is 300 feet longer than it used to be, giving riders on tubes a relaxing way to get just about all the way around the park.

2. Anything labeled 'Frisco' will leave you soaked

A Frisco water tower in the smaller of the two water playgrounds, modeled after the real deal downtown, sends a pretty extreme torrent of water onto the kids playing below at regular intervals (keep an ear out for what sounds like a train whistle; it's the sign that the cascade is about to begin). In the multilevel playground, a giant Frisco bucket periodically drenches anyone brave enough to stand underneath.

A $6 million expansion has turned Frisco Athletic Center’s water park into an affordable day-trip destination. 

A $6 million expansion has turned Frisco Athletic Center’s water park into an affordable day-trip destination. 

/Anja Schlein/Special Contributor

3. You can take a break

At select times, you can go to the Indoor Aquatic Center if you need a break from the relentless summer sun. The price of a day pass includes access to the indoor attractions, including a water playground that's geared toward younger kids, a water slide, a lap pool, a current channel (sort of a Lazy River light, without the tubes) and a warm-water activity pool. Hours for the individual attractions vary; check the website for details.

4. Relax and snack

You'll find lots of shade umbrellas and deck chairs. If you develop a case of raging swim hunger, there's a concession stand with snow cones, nachos, drinks and more.

5. Dive-in movies

There are a couple of Dive-In Movies scheduled, with The Secret Life of Pets June 23,  Zootopia July 21 and Finding Dory Aug. 4. Gates open at 8 both nights, and the center's water features will be on until the movies start at sunset. Tickets are $10 per person at friscofun.org; children younger than 2 are admitted free but must have a ticket for entry. Buying tickets in advance online is recommended; any remaining tickets will be sold at the door.

More info

The Frisco Athletic Center is at 5828 Nancy Jane Lane, Frisco. The outdoor water park season runs through Labor Day weekend. Outdoor water park hours are Mondays through Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m., Fridays noon to 8 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Parents with children 9 and younger are required to be on-site at all times with their children and must purchase a day pass. Kids 6 and younger get a wristband to wear and must have a parent in the water with them at all times. Some of the slides have height and other restrictions. friscofun.org.

Update: This story has been updated from its original version to reflect the 2017 pricing and movie screening info.

What's Happening on GuideLive