Summertime in Prince Edward Island—what could be better? Every year, our family makes a summer bucket list, and my kids always ensure that “water slides” makes that list.
We’ve been taking the kids to Shining Waters Family Fun Park in Cavendish every year (longest water slide in Atlantic Canada, yo!) for over a decade now, and I have to say, it sure is a different experience navigating a water park with preteens than it was with toddlers.
Seeing as I have a fair bit of experience momming it up at the waterpark, I thought I’d put together a list of tips for parents getting ready to spend a day poolside…or slide side as it may be.
Waterpark Survival Tips
1. Be prepared.
Here’s a handy-dandy basic list of what to pack for the waterpark:
- Swim diapers (if you have any non-potty trained family members)
- Waterproof sunscreen
- Lots of water (I recommend a water bottle for each member of the family)
- Lots of snacks (you are allowed to bring your own food into the park, and remember: objects in water appear hungrier than on land)
- Extra clothes (and a separate bag to throw the wet ones in)
- Band-Aids (you never know)
- Baby wipes (always come in handy)
- Waterproof watch for teens, so they don’t lose track of time
- A book (that you likely will not have a chance to read)
- Change, if you wish to rent a locker and not cart your things around all day
- Shampoo, soap, etc., if you plan on showering after ride time
2. Do your homework.
First thing’s first: If you’re going to pack the car with gear and snacks and excited children to head to the waterpark for the day, to avoid disappointment (and meltdowns), you should make sure there will be age-appropriate activities for all members of your family. While Shining Waters definitely has activities for all ages, some rides do have height restrictions, which is good to be aware of before you land. That way, you can do your best to strategically avoid the rides that your littler family members can’t go on, while really talking up the ones they can enjoy.
3. Strategically choose your date.
Waterparks are busy on hot summer days. It’s just a fact. If you don’t love crowds, you may wish to visit on a weekday rather than a weekend. Yes, it will still be busy on a hot Wednesday afternoon in July, but lineups will likely be shorter than they would be on a Saturday. You’ll also find shorter lines on an overcast day and the hour or so before the park closes! And sure, Shining Waters is a busy spot, but when you put it against similar waterparks in large cities, it’s really pretty quiet!
4. Dress for the park.
One thing that is easy to do as parents is to put ourselves at the bottom of the list (all the lists). But you want to be comfortable at the park, too! Make sure you have comfortable sneakers for exploring the park, flip flops, and a change of clothes for yourself (even if you don’t plan on going in the pool or on the slides—if you’re dragging kids around, you’re likely going to get wet). Also, if you have babies or toddlers who tend to pull on you, you want to be sure your swimsuit is up to the task, if you know what I’m saying.
5. Bring enough adults.
You want to make sure to have a good solid adult to child ratio when you visit a waterpark. There’s going to be someone who wants to ride again, someone who needs to go to the bathroom, someone who wants a drink, someone who decides they don’t like the colour green, etc. Some of you may also have children who are different ages, and it’s good to know that at Shining Waters, the splashpad for littles is on the opposite side of the water park than the pool for big kids. It’s important that you have enough eyes on your kids so that everyone stays safe.
6. Arrive early.
Rule number one for waterpark fun (I didn’t even mean to rhyme that, but I’m totally leaving it) is to get there early when the slides are less busy. You can claim a spot on the pool deck, get the lay of the land, and make the absolute most out of your day.
7. Prepare to bribe your children to leave.
Perhaps the best tip for waterpark survival is to have an exit strategy because your kids are not going to want to leave. Maybe you could surprise the kids by telling them you’re going to head to Mariner’s Cove Boardwalk for a frozen yogurt when you leave, or treat everyone to a BeaverTail pastry before leaving the park! Or maybe, you have a surprise waiting in the car or back at the cottage for them. You’ll have to use your own discretion here, but trust me, if you want to keep the happy vibes going, you should come up with a fun ending for the day.
Try to keep in mind that this is all about making memories, so go on and get in the water with the kids, rather than watching from the deck. Play with them! Take a ride down the slide. Hang out together in the leisure pool. This is where renting a locker comes in handy! Put everything that you don’t want to lose in there, and then live it up with your family. As corny as it sounds, you won’t regret that time you spend playing with your kids. Unless you didn’t pay attention to the swimsuit rule I mentioned earlier and end up in a wardrobe malfunction scenario! That would be a memory your kids surely won’t let you forget.
Enjoy your family waterpark adventure!
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