What Do Many Water Parks Have and How to Enjoy Great Days In The Water Wonderlands
School is over, and the kids are all taking a break from terms and months of academic work, during the days of classroom fever. They have two very tough decisions when they are planning a family vacation with their parents - go to the amusement park or go to a place where swimming is allowed.
So why not combine the two ideas together and bring your family to a water park?
This amusement center that seems to be a local Y or your community recreation and sports center pool area on energy drinks suits the needs of both a respite on a hot, summer day and fun for the whole family and kin. Who doesn't love going down on a slide into a refreshing pool of clear water, go on a raft ride, or lie down and relax on an inner tube on a river? There are so many water parks in the world that suit all the family's needs in an aquatic manner.
The Anatomy of A Water Park
I have been to many water parks during the course of my life, including both of them at Walt Disney World. Because of those prior experiences with them, I know firsthand of what a quality water park should look like. It contains a series of interactive splash pads and zero-depth pools with slides and fun structures, many signature water slides (including tube and raft), a wave pool, and the lazy river. To me, that defines the definition of a water park, because I have been to them as a kid.
But not all water parks are created equal, and I'm not talking about the theming. Some of them have FlowRiders (wakeboard surfing surfaces), while few others have the boomerang slide (where one rides a tube on a wedge-like slide).
Of course, not all water parks have to be located outdoors - there are also indoor types, most of them located in numerous resorts (Massanutten, a Shenandoah Valley resort and RCI timeshare hotel in McGaheysville, VA, is an excellent example, as do the hotels in the resort chain Great Wolf Lodge.) or recreation centers. The water there is usually heated, so they are perfect for wintertime and fall vacations. If you crave the excitement of a water park when the weather is too rainy or cold, then the indoor water park is more than likely your cup of tea.
What to Bring And Wear to a Water Park
Of course, you would want to wear some type of swimwear, but which ones are suitable for sliding down a plunge slide such as Summit Plummet in Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World?
Well, I prefer wearing one-piece suits. I favor them more than the bikinis (which I dread, in my humble opinion) because they are not only modest, but I can slide easily in them, be confident in them, and flaunt myself in them. That's the kind of swimwear I prefer to you, and I suggest that it is free of buckles, zippers, buttons, rivets, and exposed metals, as many water park rules dictate.
If you do wear a bikini, I suggest the ones you can easily slip on and off (not the halters and g-bottoms). Oh, and under any circumstances, never, ever wear swimwear with thong bottoms - even though you are going to a water park off-season when the kids are in school; there may be a remainder of them! I for one prefer swimwear to be worn under lightweight garments, like a shirt and shorts, so you'll feel free to change quicker with fresh undergarments.
I recommend water shoes to be worn in the park- not only you'll save some grief from foot-on-hot-concrete contact (not to mention plantar fasciitis risk), but also you'll be comfortable and confident. (I also do so at the theme parks, too, especially when it features water rides that get me wet.)
I don't know about you, but it is imperative to make sunscreen a staple. Unless you like the idea and the risk of the dreaded melanoma ruining and (eventually, because it's a type of skin cancer) ending your life, apply it liberally. I use 50 SPF, but anything at least 30 SPF is perfectly fine with me and also optimal!
The Whens of Going
In many water parks, there's bound to be long lines at the body slides, for example, and that often happens in the summer or spring break, when the kids are out of school. The worst month to go to one is during July, in my opinion, I have been living near central Florida for several years and I have seen photos of Brazilian tour groups and their Argentinian cousins in the local water parks like Typhoon Lagoon or Wet N' Wild.
If you must go during those peak seasons, please arrive early, like 30 minutes prior to opening. Also, go on the weekdays if you can, where the crowds are less of a pain. If you are living here in Florida (or other warm climate state), go on September - I went to Blizzard Beach once on that optimal month and I noted the fairly manageable crowds!
For the indoor counterparts, go whenever the majority of children are in school. That also means less crowds and more fun without grief from long lines.
Lesson Learned: Always Follow the Rules!
...And Don't Run on Slides Either!
My Water Park Safety Briefings
Besides putting on sunscreen, there are many water park safety procedures to make your day less of a headache or a tragedy.There are too many rules to list and describe, so I'll pick out the best ones for you.
First and foremost, horseplay shouldn't be tolerated.
I once watched one episode of a sitcom when two boys and their parents spending a day at the water park. After the mother scolds the boys for bad behavior at the water park, they shove her down a water slide head first. I find it rather funny, but that is a pathetic act to commit in reality. So, I agree with many water parks that don't condone horseplay.
Supervise your kids if they are in your party.
In times when kids or even teenagers get abducted and ultimately killed from recent years onward, this safety precaution is more important than ever. Ride with them when the ride calls for multiple people, for example. Oh, and please don't talk to your friend or co-worker on the cell phone or read on the lounge chair next to the wave pool or even the diaper pool (my term for kiddie pool) - there's a greater chance of abduction or drowning, the latter of which is one of the leading causes of death for especially small children.
Mind the rules.
Many attractions have height or age restrictions, and allowing some baby to experience a tens-of-feet plunge slide or a tube slide twister is goofy, yet wrong. Would you really want to have a kid just 3 feet tall to experience a water slide that has a 4-foot height restriction?
Please measure your kids beforehand so you can get information on which rides to bypass in terms of how tall they are. Also, have a medical exam before you go - health considerations are posted on the signs. Oh, and please follow the instructions (one person per slide, cross legs and arms) on how to ride to prevent injury or death.
Learn how to swim.
Having been educated at a private school where there's an indoor pool and swimming classes, I can't stress that enough. A knowledge of swimming skills can save your life and prevent drowning. Check your local YMCA or recreation centers for lessons. (Make sure it's certified by the Red Cross as well.) This is especially important for small children, who are more prone to drowning than anyone else. (Again, it's one of the leading causes of death in this age group.)
Watch the forecast.
I live in a state where thunderstorms thwart days at the water parks, so tune in to your local news station or go online for the forecast. (I prefer the latter because it gives me an idea of how the weather would be like on my day planned.) Stop swimming at the first sign of bad weather, such as distant thunder or distant lightning. The same is true at indoor ones - it's like taking a bath or shower in a lightning storm!
I hope you find my nuts and bolts of theme park information informative! For the where-to-gos correlating to water parks, visit www.waterparks.com.
Happy splashing, everyone!