Splash Universe vs. Splash Village

My daughter loves swimming and is so excited that the summer is here and the pools will be opening soon. In March we spent a day at Splash Universe in Dundee and on Sunday we visited Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth.

Both Splash Universe and Zehnder’s Splash Village are within a day trip of Ann Arbor. So which should you visit?

In my opinion, I would pick Splash Universe for a day trip and Splash Village for an overnight.

Water Park Features
Both parks are small indoor water parks with Splash Universe at 25,000 square feet and Splash Village at 30,000 square feet.

“Big Slides”
Both parks feature two large tube slides that are at least partially enclosed and extend outside of the building. At both places you ride on either a single or double tube. When we have been at Splash Universe, it seems we are often waiting for a tube (especially a double tube). At Splash Village we never had to wait for tubes. – Advantage: Splash Village


Lazy River
Both parks feature a lazy river. The lazy river at Splash Village is shorter than at Splash Universe. However, it includes more water features such as fountains and bucket dumps making it more fun for the kids.
Advantage: Splash Village if you like the water features, Splash Universe if you just want to float.

Spray Playground
Both parks have a spray playground that features a large dumping bucket. The structure at Splash Universe includes numerous (5 I believe) slides, of different configurations as well as rope nets to climb. The structure at Splash Village features only a single slide and only has stairs to enter it. Splash Village does have a number of fountains in this area. However, they are not enough to overcome the extra slides at Splash Universe.
Advantage: Splash Universe

Kids Pool
Both parks feature an area for little children that includes a small slide. The slide at Splash Universe is smaller and would be better for younger children. Splash Village features a larger slide that even my 7 year old used several times. The area features a see-saw and bouncy chairs for infants (20 lbs and under).
Advantage: Splash Village

Swimming Area:
Splash Universe features a “family whirlpool” at the center of the lazy river. There is minimal area for kids to swim in this area, but it features jets like a hot tub but without the heat. Splash Village features a basketball pool that also had 3 floating lily pads to play on. There is definitely more room to swim at Zehnder’s Splash Village (although the lily pads caused drama with my daughter since they were dominated by big kids who did not give her a turn). Both facilities also featured a lily pad trail for the kids to walk/crawl across. I did not see a big difference in this feature between the two parks.
Advantage: Splash Village

Hot Tub:
Zehnder’s Splash Village has a hot tub that is available to all ages. The hot tub at Splash Universe is for adults only, but has been closed before when I have been visiting. The family whirlpool that allows free swimming provides an underwater bench for parents to sit on and jets without the heat for the kids. I prefer the adults only hot tub at Splash Universe, especially now that my daughter is getting older.
Advantage: Splash Universe

Splash Universe offers an outdoor spray grounds in the summer months. We have mostly visited in the winter, and when we visited last Memorial Day weekend, they were completing cement repairs so the outdoor pad was not open. To my knowledge, Splash Village has no outdoors component. Honestly, if it is warm enough for the outdoor features, I would rather enjoy the outdoors with a day trip to Rolling Hills with its wave pool.
Advantage: Splash Universe in the summer

Changing Areas/Showers/Lockers
Splash Universe provides ample showers and changing areas for day guests and hotel guests who have already checked out. (I am going to reference the women’s facilities as I have not seen the men’s). There are numerous curtained rooms for changing as well as private curtained showers. The bathroom/changing rooms are accessed from within the water park. At Splash Village, the locker/bathrooms are just outside of the waterpark. They also provide towels for both day and hotel guests. There is a curtained room with 4 open showers and a small bench. There is a single long bench for changing with no privacy. There are family changing rooms available at Splash Village, but they are even further down the hall from the waterpark. At Splash Universe, the lockers are between the men’s and women’s changing rooms/restrooms. Splash Village provides lockers inside each changing room.
Advantage: Splash Universe

Waterpark Seating
Splash Universe provides most of their seating in the cafe area. This area provides minimal visibility of the waterpark. They do offer some recliners in the waterpark area that offer a better view, but they tend to fill up early. There are some benches near the lazy river and sprayground providing in park seating. Splash Village offers a large area of tables near the entrance and scattered tables throughout the park. There was also seating near areas that did not include tables.
Advantage: Splash Village

Splash Universe offers a cafe that includes drinks, ice cream, pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, and more. We typically buy a whole pizza for our family. You can request a pitcher of water at no charge.
Splash Village offers their food from a window. When food service is closed, beverages are available from the bar window. Since we visited on a package that included a group pizza lunch, I did not investigate the food options.
Advantage: Unknown

Splash Universe frequently runs day pass specials that are announced on their Facebook page. In the past they have offered discounted day passes for local residents (Washtenaw County qualifies). I do not see these listed, but I suggest asking about it. We have visited 3 times, and have always had a special admission deal. I have never seen day pass deals advertised for Splash Village nor do I know of any regional discounts.
Advantage: Splash Universe

Splash Universe is closer to Ann Arbor, making a shorter road trip. Where you live in Ann Arbor can have a big impact on the distance comparison. I live in Southeast Ann Arbor so Splash Universe is only 20 minutes from me, while Splash Village is 80 minutes….a difference of 1 hr each way. Whereas If you live in North Ann Arbor, you may be an hour from Splash Village and 40 minutes from Splash Universe making only a 20 minute difference in distance.
Advantage: Splash Universe

Surrounding Area
The Frankenmuth area offers a number of additional activities from exploring Frankenmuth, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, and the nearby Birch Run outlets. Dundee features Cabela’s. With the extra activiities in Frankenmuth, there is more to do beyond the waterpark if you are there overnight or for a weekend.
Advantage: Splash Village

Overall, while Splash Village offers a number of advantages over the Splash Universe, I feel the price, distance, and logistics tip the scale in favor of Splash Universe for a day trip, particularly if you are on the south side of Ann Arbor where the distance in difference is greater. However, for an overnight stay, I would select Splash Village as there is more to do besides the water park.

Of course, my whole evaluation may change in 2014. In March, Zehnder’s announced a Splash Village expansion that, among other improvements, will add 30,000 square feet to the waterpark – doubling its size. The expansion is scheduled to break ground in August 2013 and open in summer 2014. In that case, I think the trip to Splash Village may be worth it.

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