Water parks: part pool, part amusement park, all fun. Huge slides for the teens, lazy rivers for mom and dad and special play areas for the little ones make water parks a great way for the family to cool off during the hot days of summer. The best way to maximize the excitement and minimize the hassle is to take the time to do a little planning.
Check out our list below and get ready to splash, slide and dive into a day your family won't forget.
Two-piece suits might look cuter, but you don't want them to catch on something while you're slipping and sliding. For guys, keep it comfortable, but not too loose. Also, watch for drawstrings and zippers. Check the Web site of the park you plan to visit to see what is allowed.
Concrete gets hot in the summer, and standing on it can hurt your feet. If your favorite water park lets you slide in them, bring some along. Your feet will thank you.
When paper gets wet, it doesn't dry easily. Consider purchasing a plastic money pouch to wear around your neck or bringing a Ziploc bag for keeping money and credit cards in. If you are worried about losing it, rent a locker for the day (all it takes is a few quarters). You also might want to bring a second set of car keys in case one floats away.
There's nothing like the look on your kids face as they come down a waterslide. You'll want to capture it for sure! Or take some shots of the whole family on the lazy river without worrying about your camera getting wet.
You can pick up one of these at the local drug store. Watch-wearing older kids can go off on their own and know what time it is so they won't miss meeting up with you for lunch.
Consider bringing several levels of SPF, one for the face and one for the body (including the scalp and the tops of the feet). Don't forget lip balm sun screen, as well. Apply often as even waterproof ones will rub off after multiple splashdowns. Hats or sun bonnets will keep babies and toddlers from getting too much exposure.
Just because you are surrounded by water doesn't mean you can't get dehydrated. Make sure to get plenty of water and have something to eat — some places let you bring coolers and enjoy a meal in a picnic area, but there are always eateries available.
The sun will dry you off for the most part, but on overcast days — or when the sun starts going down — you'll want one to keep warm, and many parks do not provide them (although the shops do carry some). They are also a great way to mark your chairs. Get some bright colored ones that are easy for the family to spot.
Some slides and attractions require guests to be within a particular height or weight range to ride. Some also have restrictions on ages, or won't let a child under a certain age ride some attractions alone. Almost all parks provide information online that you can check out in advance so your little one isn't disappointed that they can't ride the Revenge of the Cursed Thunder Dragonslayer.
A lot of parks offer deals on their Web sites where you can bring a family in at a special rate or come on a particular day for a discount. Some also might offer price breaks on snacks or merchandise.