This is a list of sanity-saving, mom-approved water park tips.
Every summer, my desire to avoid water parks at all cost collides with my duty to keep my kids happy as they incessantly whine about visiting the looming Texas-sized water park right down the street from our house. Well, I finally gave in. We visited our local water park – on the weekend of the last day of school and opening weekend, no less. And here comes the kicker. I LOVED IT. When I caught myself considering purchasing season tickets, I almost clutched my pearls.
Could I be in the midst of a water park induced transformation? Nope! Sorry, not sorry. BUT I did still enjoy myself immensely. All because I followed these sanity-saving [mom approved] water park tips!
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Get there at opening time.
The entrance line will be pretty long with other genius parents [or others that read this article] but it is still the optimal time to arrive. Not only is the weather cooler but you’ll also get primo dibs on the tables and seating around the park.
Buy your tickets online and in advance.
Most water parks offer discounts for those that purchase at least a day in advance and online. Plus, it will save you from having to wait in the ticket line.
Bring one factory sealed bottle of water per person with you.
Almost all water parks allow you to bring in one factory sealed water bottle per person during your visit. It’s an easy water park tip that will not only save you some money during your trip but also keep everyone hydrated.
Don’t sneak in food.
The rules surrounding food vary by water park but if you visit one that does not allow outside food, please do not try to sneak it in. They check and not only is it embarrassing but you’ll have to re-enter the line. If the budget allows spring for a package that includes a meal. Alternatively, leave a picnic meal in a cooler in your car. If the water park allows re-entry, you can leave, enjoy your meal outside of the water park [many have tables in the parking lot], and then re-enter when you’re done.
Pack the right water park essentials.
Managing the chaos of a day at the water park is a lot easier if you’ve got the right water park essentials like a waterproof cell phone pouch, swim towels, and more. We’ve got a handy dandy list [with a free printable checklist] available here: Water Park Essentials: Everything You Need for Fun in the Sun.
Snag a table.
Bring a bag or two [sans-valuables] and leave it on a table so that your family has a home base while you’re at the park. Seating goes fast but that’s why you’re getting there at opening time. It is a quick and easy water park tip that will allow you some free shaded seating during your visit.
Rent a cabana.
Renting a cabana at a water park tends to be pretty expensive. But if you’re willing to splurge, renting a cabana can be a sanity-saving water park tip. Not only do they provide shade and a dedicated seating area, but many come with food service [at an extra cost]. It is also a nice home base if, for example, one kid [or adult] needs a midday nap while the others continue to play.
Wear water shoes.
Because pavement be hot, yo. Trust me, you won’t want to carry your kiddo around the park just to save their feet while walking on tiptoes to avoid burning your own. Some rides might require you to remove them but you can clutch them to your chest while on the ride and then put them back on when you’re done.
Ease up on the helicoptering.
That doesn’t mean let your kids run loose around the park unattended. But [depending on their age] give them a little free reign in certain areas. My kids explored every nook and cranny of the water park while I watched from the sidelines and we were both better off because of it.
Wear a life jacket.
If your kiddos aren’t strong swimmers [or just don’t really swim at all], please wear a life jacket. It will provide a little bit of reassurance for everyone so that you can all relax at least a little. If you’re uncomfortable with the ones provided by the park, feel free to bring your own.
Ride the big rides as soon as you enter the park to avoid long lines.
If you’ve already followed the water park tip to arrive early, then you’re ahead of the crowd! Ride the big rides as soon as you enter the park to avoid waiting in the long lines that are sure to come later in the day.
Save the Lazy River for after lunch.
Mounting a tube and floating carelessly down a river is the best water park activity post-lunch. Take advantage of the lazy river to allow your food to settle and to take a much-needed break.
Know where you’re going.
Maps of most water parks are available online. But you can also grab one at the water park when you arrive.
Try to study them before you go so you know where the important things are and which rides will interest the family.
Wear sunscreen and re-up throughout the day.
Don’t skip the sunscreen while you’re at the water park. Yes, even if it is indoors [most of them have glass ceilings that allow UV rays in]. Yes, even those of us with melanin [we get sun damage too]. Sunburns suck no matter what tone of the skin. Plus, the risk of skin cancer is real. Apply sunscreen before your visit and periodically throughout the day.
Set a time to leave before you get started.
Ever tried to get a kid to leave a water park before they were ready? Take it from me – it’s hard. Set the expectation with the kids before you get started that you have to head out by a certain time. Of course, you can always stay later but it sets the expectation. Bonus points if you add in a lure like you’re leaving for ice cream or a treat at home.
Do you have any sanity saving water park tips?