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Posted: Friday, July 27, 2012 12:00 pm

By Audrey Spencer

Killeen Daily Herald

Beating the summer heat doesn't require packing for a two-hour road trip to shell out half a month's income to spend a day at the water park.

Belton and Killeen offer water slides, pools and activities for a fraction of the cost of big-name parks, and Lampasas also has a natural spring-fed swimming hole that attracts dozens of visitors every day.

In Belton, the Summer Fun Water Park has undergone many improvements since it was taken over by a Belton resident in 2004.

The park boa

Unlike some water parks, Summer Fun offers free parking and allows patrons to bring in their own food and drinks.

"Other parks are contracted out with different catering organizations," said owner Lou Manzella. "We run our own, so it's not a conflict. ... We want (our customers) to be able to save a little bit of money."

The park offers concessions, as well as "adult night," featuring live music, for patrons 21 and older from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. every other Saturday.

On Aug. 4, the park will feature Crash Landing, a local country and cover band.

In Killeen, the Aquatics Center at Lions Club Park offers multiple pools, water slides and children's activities.

Sundae Hein, aquatics supervisor with the city, described the multiple play areas for younger children and other offerings for older children.

Younger children and toddlers can enjoy the tot slide and creative play area, while older children may utilize diving boards, a bowl slide and racing slides.

"There's an orange one and a green one next to it. One is enclosed, one is open. You start at the top and race to the bottom," said Hein. "There's also the plunge slide, which comes down at a 45-degree angle and shoots you into 9 feet of water."

The aquatics center sees 300 to 400 visitors daily during the week and sometimes hits its 780-person capacity on weekends.

Lampasas also offers water-based escapes, though the Hancock Springs free flow swim area is different from the colorful waterslides in Belton and Killeen.

Located near Hancock Park, the pool is all-natural and spring-fed.

The pool's water comes "straight out of the ground, with no chlorine or chemicals added," said Jeff Jackson, vice chairman of the Lampasas Historical Society. "Your hair might smell like sulphur for a few days."

Mineral springs around Lampasas were the attraction that led to the settlement of the city. Travelers would bathe in the springs because of supposed healing properties.

"The water temperature is always the same," said Jackson.

Like Summer Fun, Hancock Springs hosts nighttime events.

"We are having a moonlight swim on Saturday," said Kim Watkins, pool manager. "We try and have them around the full moon each month. From 7 to 11 (p.m.), we'll have a DJ with Tejano music this Saturday."

Last month, about 180 people attended the moonlight swim, where attendants brought food for a potluck dinner.

Contact Audrey Spencer at aspencer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476.

If you go

The Summer Fun Water Park, 1401 Waco Road in Belton, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until Aug. 19, when if will be open on weekends only.

A full-day pass for adults is $15 and $12 for children 3 to 12 years old. Cost is $6.50 for non-swimmers. From 3 to 6 p.m., adult tickets are $8.50 and $7 for children.

Military discounted tickets are available on post. For more information, go to summerfunwaterpark.com.

The Killeen Aquatics Center at Lions Club Park, 1700 E. Stan Schlueter Loop, is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and and 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sundays.

Entry for children 4 to 16 years old and residents 55 or older is $5. Cost for adult residents is $7 and $8 for non-resident adults.

For more information, go to www.killeentexas.gov/index.php?section=56.

The Hancock Free Flow Swim Area is located near Hancock Park on South Highway 281 in Lampasas. It is open from noon to

7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Adult admission is $3.50, child admission is $2.50.

For more information, contact (512) 556-4048.

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