Waterparks.  They can either be extremely fun for the whole family, or they can quickly turn into a disaster.  Preparation beforehand can not only eliminate meltdowns and stress, but can add to the overall waterpark experience.  Multidimensional TravelingMom, Kristi Mehes, has learned quite a few things as a result of visiting waterparks with her almost 5 year old son.  Here’s what you need to know before taking your kids to a waterpark!

Taking your kids to a waterpark presents challenges. Preparation beforehand can not only eliminate meltdowns and stress, but can add to the experience.

Taking your kids to a waterpark? Here’s what you need to know before you go. Photo by Multidimensional TravelingMom, Kristi Mehes.

What You Need to Know Before Taking Your Kids to a Waterpark

  1.  Bring Your Own Towels
  2. Pack Sunscreen
  3. Bring Water Shoes
  4. Arrive Early to the Waterpark
  5. Consider Height Restrictions
  6. Lifeguards on Duty
  7. Amenities for Families
  8. Life Vests
  9. Dining Options
  10. Consider Renting a Cabana

Regardless of whether you are taking your kids to the waterpark or local pool, there are several things you can do to make the visit a lot more enjoyable.  Preparation is extremely important, especially knowing what to bring to the waterpark, as well as what amenities are available for kids at the waterpark.  Here is a guide to help you plan a trip with your kids to the waterpark!

1.  Bring Your Own Towels

Taking your kids to a waterpark?  My number one advice is to bring your own towels.  This seems very basic, but it’s one that we almost forgot the last time we went to a waterpark.  Keep in mind that most waterparks do not provide towels.  Towels can usually be purchased at the waterpark, but expect to pay a premium for them.  It can also quickly add up if you have to buy a towel for every family member.  So you’ll save yourself a headache and money by bringing your family’s own towels.

2.  Pack Sunscreen and Water

This is another basic tip, but it’s one that is also easily forgotten when taking your kids to a waterpark.  Similar to towels, sunscreen can also be purchased at the waterpark, but expect to pay a premium as well.  We always pack extra sunscreen, especially since the Arizona sun can be brutal during the summer months.  You’ll also want to make sure that you and your kids stay hydrated.  You’ll definitely want to bring water with you.

TravelingMom Tip:  Some water parks have water stations available.  Check the waterpark’s website to see if it does have water stations available.

3.  Arrive Early to the Waterpark

I recommend arriving at the waterpark as early in the day as possible, not only because of the weather, but also to avoid larger crowds.  Younger children will also get tired as the day progresses.

4.  Bring Water Shoes

Most people don’t think of bringing water shoes.  A lot of the waterparks now have bins near the entrance to rides where guests can leave their shoes.  Which is a good thing.  But when the pavement is hot, it’s still difficult to walk on the pavement with bare feet.  If it’s extremely hot for you, it’s also extremely hot for your kids.  This is why I’m a big fan of water shoes.  They are great for several different occasions, from spending the day at a waterpark to rafting.  I highly recommend bringing water shoes.  We wised up for our last trip to the waterpark and brought water shoes with us.  Not only it was easier for us to walk around without having to carry our sandals around with us, but our feet were also protected from the hot pavement.

Taking your kids to a waterpark presents challenges. Preparation beforehand can not only eliminate meltdowns and stress, but can add to the experience.

Universal’s Volcano Bay has storage for shoes, but you won’t need to use it if you bring water shoes with you. Photo by Candid TravelingMom, Patty Holliday.

5.  Height Restrictions

Taking your kids to the waterpark?  Do your research beforehand to make sure the waterpark you are visiting has rides and attractions for your whole family, including the youngest member of the family.  There are also several rides that all family members can enjoy together, like the wave pool and the lazy river.  By doing your research beforehand, you can avoid meltdowns (yours AND your child’s!) at the waterpark if your child isn’t tall enough to go on a particular ride.

Taking your kids to a waterpark presents challenges. Preparation beforehand can not only eliminate meltdowns and stress, but can add to the experience.

Tips for taking your kids to a waterpark? Check height restrictions for rides. You’ll want to visit a waterpark that has rides and attractions for all family members, such as the waterpark at Holiday World Theme Park & Splashin’ Safari Water Park. Photo by Retro TravelingMom, Mary Moore.

6.  Lifeguards on Duty

Another tip when taking your kids to the waterpark?  Check to see if the waterpark has lifeguards on duty.  From the smaller waterparks to the big waterparks, there are usually lifeguards on duty, which is extremely important for pool safety.  I don’t think we’ve ever visited a waterpark that didn’t have lifeguards on duty, but I’d definitely avoid a waterpark that didn’t have them.

7.  Amenities for Families

Another tip to know before taking your kids to the waterpark?  The attractions and the rides aren’t the only things that make waterparks family friendly.  Make sure the waterpark has family restrooms, including changing tables.

Taking your kids to a waterpark presents challenges. Preparation beforehand can not only eliminate meltdowns and stress, but can add to the experience.

Family friendly amenities make visits to the waterpark less stressful. Photo by Last Minute TravelingMom, Jennifer Greene.

8.  Life Vests

Life vests should also be available throughout the waterpark for complimentary use.  In fact, they can be required on some of the rides for children under a certain height, like the lazy river and the wave pool.  You’ll definitely want to make sure that the waterpark has life vests available to borrow.

Life vests are complimentary at many of the water parks, including the waterpark at LEGOLAND California. Photo by Day Trips TravelingMom, Julie Bigboy.

Life vests are complimentary at many of the water parks, including the waterpark at LEGOLAND California. Photo by Day Trips TravelingMom, Julie Bigboy.

9.  Dining Options

Food at waterparks can be expensive.  Check to see if you are able to bring your own snacks and food.  If not, see if the waterpark has different dining options available.  We recently visited a waterpark that had plenty of options, from entrees like hot dogs and hamburgers to snacks like ice cream and slushies.

10.  Consider Renting a Cabana (or Lockers)

To rent a cabana, or not rent a cabana…..that is the question.  For those who really want a stress-free and relaxing experience, there are cabanas available for rent at an additional cost.  Some cabanas include lounge chairs, chairs, ceiling fans, TVs, snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, a cabana attendant and a personal safety box for valuables.  Some cabanas may also include meals, drinks, snacks (like ice cream) and inner tube rentals.  I definitely think a cabana is worth it if you can swing it.  If you forego a cabana, though, consider renting a locker.  It’s stressful walking around with everything, and a locker will alleviate that stress.

Taking your kids to a waterpark presents challenges. Preparation beforehand can not only eliminate meltdowns and stress, but can add to the experience.

What You Need to Know Before Taking Your Kids to a Waterpark. Photo by Multidimensional TravelingMom, Kristi Mehes.