Jun 14 2011
The Waterpark of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is billed as “America’s Biggest Indoor Waterpark,” and for those who are not seasoned waterpark users it can be a bit daunting. The first time we visited, two years ago, we found it to be overwhelming. The park was busy with spring-break crowds, we were outnumbered be our kids two-to-one, and they were young and required constant supervision. The size of the place made this a difficult task, and it wasn’t very relaxing.
My kids and I visited the Waterpark of America again for Mr. Bubble’s 50th Birthday Party, and it was a completely different experience. We all had fun (even me!), and after this good experience, I wouldn’t hesitate to return.
What made this trip better? A few things helped. These are my tips for visiting the Waterpark of America (or any other waterpark) and actually being able to relax as a parent.
- Consider the ages of your children. On our first visit, our oldest was 8 and our youngest 3. None were good swimmers yet. We spent most of our time in the Fort Snelling tots’ area, which is a lot of fun for the 6-and-under set. Our plan of attack for this visit was for my husband to go on the big slides or regular pool with the kids who wanted to do these activities, while I stayed at Fort Snelling and counted heads of the rest.
- Decide when to go. Spring break was crazy-busy. A June Saturday was much more calm. Midweek would be even less crowded, but hours may be limited.
- Bring your own life jackets. The waterpark does have life jackets you can use, but it’s a lot easier to spot your kids if they’re in unique, brightly-colored preservers.
- If you’re staying overnight, stay at the attached Radisson Bloomington. If you need something unexpected (like a dose of Benadryl for some unexplained hives on my daughter), you only have to run up to your room to retrieve it. Likewise, if your kids (or you) need a break or a nap or a brought-from-home snack mid-day, you’re right there.
- Go with friends. If you can coordinate your trip to the waterpark with friends, it can make things easier and more fun, even if you don’t hang out with them all day. Having someone else in the park who recognizes your kids can be a big help when you need to round them up at the end of the day. And if you need to run up to your room for something, or a medical emergency arises, you have backup. (A big thanks to Doug and Jody and Jeff and Beth who helped out when I needed it this weekend!)
- Devise a method of communication. The waterpark is LOUD. Even if you see your child 10 feet away from you, they may not be able to hear you, even if you’re shouting their name at the top of your lungs. Our family’s system consisted of a notebook left on a specified table. My older boys were allowed to do what they wanted in the waterpark as long as they checked in occasionally in our notebook. Likewise, I left them notes keeping them apprised of where I was, when we’d eat, etc.
- Bring just what you need. Lockers are available, but they cost $6/day. If you eat in Camp Many Point, you can charge your meals and snacks to your room at the Radisson.
What can you expect at Waterpark of America?
- Lifeguards patrolling every area of the park.
- Showers and locker rooms.
- Towels and life jackets that can be used while in the park.
- Lounge chairs, tables, and chairs throughout the park.
- Camp Many Point snack bar.
- A long lazy river with one “waterfall” that is usually missable if you maneuver your tube right.
- Single and double tubes that can be used in the lazy river or tube slides.
- Three body slides (no life jackets allowed).
- Two tube slides (life jackets required for children under 48″).
- One “family” tube slide (life jackets required for children under 48″).
- Flowrider “surfing” area.
- Zero-entry pool that occasionally has waves running through it.
- Lily-pad pool crossing.
- 3-4′ pool with basketball hoops.
- Two large hot tubs.
- Fort Snelling tots’ area with zero-entry splash zones, and a variety of slides for younger kids.
- Comfortable water temperatures and air temperatures in the waterpark. There was no shock of cold water, and little shivering when getting out of the water.
On our most recent trip to Waterpark of America, everyone had their favorites. I loved the hot tubs. My girls liked Fort Snelling, the lily pad crossing, and basketball pool. One son went around the lazy river more than fifteen times, and the other made sixteen trips down the big slides.
If you’d like to visit the Waterpark of America, but find their prices a bit steep, keep an eye on Goldstar * half-price tickets to theater, concerts, comedy and sports. Occasionally they have discount tickets available for select dates.
What’s your favorite part of a waterpark? What’s the best waterpark you’ve been to? Do you have any survival tips to add?
Our family received complimentary admission to Waterpark of America and a room at the Radisson, courtesy of Mr. Bubble. All opinions are my own.
* Affliliate link.