Shrieking with delight, 9-year-old Haley Zhang scoots past three outsize plastic spoons to zoom down the slide of a giant inflatable “dishwasher.”
What looks like a high-tech bouncy castle gushing with water is something you’d expect to see at an outdoor amusement park somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey or Pennsylvania — not in Manhattan, at Park Avenue and 71st Street.
Welcome to the annual Citi Summer Streets, which takes place every August and attracted nearly 300,000 people last year. This year’s edition, which began last weekend, continues Saturday and on Aug. 19. It offers lots of free, family-friendly entertainment from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., when seven miles of roadway are blocked to all but bike and pedestrian traffic.
The route starts near the Brooklyn Bridge at Lafayette and Chambers streets and travels north to Park Avenue and 72nd Street near Central Park, close to the dishwasher experience.
“It’s a really great day out,” says Haley’s mom, Wendy, 36, who also brought along her husband and 11-year-old daughter from their home in Scarsdale. “The kids wore their swimsuits, ready to have fun, and got their wish to splash around in the jets.”
At 6,750 square feet — roughly the size of 2¹/₂ tennis courts — the new LG QuadWash Water Park is one of the highlights of this year’s fest. It sprinkles, soaks and then dries participants from all angles, just like a real dishwasher.
Designed in London and made in China, the pop-up construction takes 20 minutes to inflate. Peggy Ang, who headed the marketing team behind it, tells The Post she’s thrilled to see the miniature water park placed “In the middle of the concrete jungle … in one of the biggest cities in the world.”
So far, the dishwasher’s made quite a splash.
“The water really adds to the slipperiness,” says Adam Olbi, 11, of Ossining, NY, who came to the city with his mom, Rawda, 33, and 4-year-old sister, Angel. “But it was cold, so I didn’t stay in for too long!”
Adam and his family were lucky. Like the Zhangs, the Olbi family arrived at around 7:30 a.m. to beat the crowds, which later lined up as far south as 68th Street. Since the dishwasher can hold just 25 to 30 people at a time, the wait to get wet can be long. LG advises people to register for timed slots throughout the day, by showing up at around 8 a.m. to secure a wristband.
Or, if you like, head downtown. At Foley Square, by the courthouses in Lower Manhattan — one of six co-called “rest stops” on the route — visitors can experience the free Vita Coco Beach and iBeachside Slide. That last is a spectacular, 270-foot-long water slide that you fly down on rubber tubes, surrounded by palm trees, lounge chairs and a misting station.
Registration for the three-story slide is full this Saturday, though you might get lucky if you come early, at around 7 a.m. You can get timed tickets for an Aug. 19 ride starting Monday after noon by visiting NYC.Gov/SummerStreets.
But if water isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other attractions on offer. They include a new New York-centric minigolf course at Astor Place and the popular 165-foot-long, 30-foot-high zip line at the Uptown Rest Stop at 52nd Street and Park Avenue. Again, it’s recommended to arrive by 8 a.m. to secure a reserved time spot in order to zip each Saturday.
Families coming in from out of town sometimes supersize their visits and make a day of it.
“We wound up coming home by train at 11 p.m.,” says Rawda Olbi. After Summer Streets closed up shop at 1 p.m. last Saturday, the Olbi family took in both the Asia [Society] Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. “Everyone was exhausted but happy,” she says.
Other fun places for slip slidin’ away
Splish Splash, Calverton, LI
Distance from NYC: 76 miles
Here you can experience the only hydromagnetic “water coaster” in New York. Bootleggers Run takes four-person rafts up to a height of 47 feet for a series of breathtaking drops. If you’re seeking a more relaxing experience, the pools, wave pools and rivers are great spots for staying cool. Children will enjoy the four kiddie areas: Elephant Slide, Octopus Pool, Monsoon Lagoon and Pirates Cove. Admission from at $42.99 for people over 48 inches tall, $32.99 for those who are shorter. SplishSplash.com
SplashDown Beach, Fishkill, NY
Distance from NYC: 74 miles
Situated in the scenic Hudson Valley, thrill-seekers can experience an adrenaline rush on the Arctic Plunge Racer, a five-story mat racer that launches riders over humps and bumps while the children’s section includes a themed pirate ship featuring interactive fountains, dumping buckets and four wet ’n wild slides. Don’t miss the exciting Humunga Half-Pipe and a more sedate family raft ride, the Arctic Mammoth. Admission, $30 for people over 42 inches tall, $25 for those who are shorter or are seniors. SplashDownBeach.com
Runaway Rapids, Keansburg, NJ
Distance from NYC: 42 miles
This beachfront venue is ultra-family-friendly. Its 10,000 square-foot interactive kids’ zone boasts half a dozen slides, with a 500-gallon bucket that tips over every 90 seconds. The park’s newer additions include the Atomic Molecule Scrambler and the Orbital Swirl. Designed for adults, they are 8¹/₂ stories high. The zany rainbow spin-out bowl on the Orbital Swirl looks like something out of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Admission from $26.95 per adult or child (family deals and other discounts available). KeansburgAmusementPark.com/Runaway-Rapids
Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pa.
Distance from NYC: 76 miles
This huge amusement park (which caters toward the younger crowd) boasts a selection of fun water rides including Bert & Ernie’s Slip & Slide and Big Bird’s Rambling River. The Count’s Splash Castle — a multilevel attraction featuring more than 90 play elements, including a 1000-gallon tipping bucket, will likely be the place kids spend in their swimsuits most. Admission, $60 (also good for a second visit through 2017). Kids under 2 are admitted free. SesamePlace.com/Philadelphia