Water parks are excellent places to spend some family time. There is something for everyone, a delightful environment for connecting, and it lets you beat the heat in the best way. Here are some things to think about to survive and conquer your family water park adventure.
You are likely out on a weekend or enjoying summer break, so having a plan may seem restrictive. You should definitely have space to do whatever you want, but having a rough schedule helps keep everyone together—especially if you have a lot of family members going in different directions. First, figure out your general timeline. It doesn't have to be hard appointment times like a real schedule, but it is good to know roughly how long you want to be at the water park and what (little) you may need to prepare. Beach towels are usually the thing that people have to plan for unless you know the water park you are going to provides as many as you want. Another thing is whether or not you want to get a cubby box to lock up your stuff. These are decisions you will need to plan out and make before you go.
As far as timing goes, you will have your own priorities, but for most people, it is better to get to the water park early. It simplifies finding a parking place close to the park entrance, it gives you the cool of the morning to ease into your relaxing, watery experience, and it gives you the whole morning and afternoon for leisure and fun. If you have a general time to leave, you'll know how to pace yourself through the day.
When you arrive, you don't have to rush. Hopefully, you planned well, so you have time to do what you want. Take a moment to look and find a good place to set up base camp. Make sure it is reasonably central, or at least pretty easy to locate, with enough space for your beach bags and enough lounge chairs and umbrella shade for you and yours.
When you are set up, look around. Check out the different areas of the water park. There are usually so many things to do! See where different slides and other attractions are located. See what you want to try out and what everyone wants to do, at least initially. This is also helpful to gauge where you are if you get directionally confused during a swirly slide.
Lastly, look for the lifeguards. You want to know where these guys are or are likely to be. If something happens, you want to be able to find one quickly and get help. They also know the water park very well, so if you get lost or you lose a little one, they can direct you.
If the park is big enough or your base camp spot is hidden enough, you may need a secondary meeting place. Different family members will likely want to do different things and then meet up again afterward. Having a meeting place is a great way to give some summer break freedom without losing anyone. Then, when you've all met up again, you can engage in some family time.
A good meeting place has several features. It is by something clearly visible, so it is easy to find no matter where you end up after your individual adventures. Bright colors combined with some tall landmark or sign usually make the best meet-up places. Your meeting place should also serve as your starting point before splitting up so that everyone knows where it is, and so it is more or less centrally located among all the different directions everyone is going. Agree on a time frame, then go play!
Playing in the sun all day can be exhausting. And sometimes we don't realize how tired we are until later. Instead of going so hard you crash and have to sleep through the rest of the water park fun, plan to take a break every few hours. It gives you a chance to rest and recover. There is time to drink water and rehydrate, something we don't usually think about when we are spending the whole day in and around water. Kick off those water shoes for a moment and rest so that you can have more fun, for a longer overall period of time.
Part of making the water park a great experience is making sure you don't regret it the next day. If you are covered in dark sunburns, not only can that cut your fun short, but it will be hard to remember how awesome the family water park experience was when all you can think about is how much your skin hurts. Protect your skin with sunscreen and reapply at least every break you take. If your skin tone is a bit lighter, you may need a few extra applications. If a full body of sunscreen doesn't sound very fun, bring along sun protection swimwear and/or a rash guard That way, you only have to protect your face, hands, and legs. A good hat may even be able to shade your face enough to reduce the need for sunscreen on your face. Just don't lose it on a slide!
Yes, there are lifeguards around, but water safety at a water park is very important. Running on a slippery deck, pushing people underwater, or not paying attention to slide directions can be dangerous. Make sure you stay safe while you are having fun. Then all your memories can be of good things, and you'll look forward to going again!