Several indoor water parks and resorts have popped up with a few hours of NYC in recent years (see the list at the end) and they can be extremely fun. However, a good time can be ruined by lack of planning. Here are a few tips to keep the good times flowing (like a lazy river) at your water park adventure.
Use early check-in
Many places allow guests to check into the resort several hours before their room is ready so you can use the facilities for longer. Each resort has different policies, but three to four hours of bonus time at the beginning of your trip is a great stress relief after a long car ride. Also look into the policy for water park usage on your check-out day. During a recent trip, we checked out of our room at 11 a.m. but had access to the water park and all the attractions at the resort until 10 p.m. that night.
Leave the water park for food
Like an airport, many an indoor water park resort will kill you with its exorbitant pricing and limited options on dining. Basically, they hope people will be too lazy to leave to search out cheaper alternatives. But with the free parking available at most of these facilities, it is very convenient to dry off, jump in your car and bring back any number of choices of food. While you may have to eat in your room, since outside food and drinks are usually not allowed inside the park, it helps break up the day and give parents a few minutes of rest time when they are not ankle deep in water.
Arcades are not cheap
It is a fact that arcades are expensive and your kids can blow through a huge chunk of change (usually loaded on a card) in the pursuit of prize tickets. They will see someone who just won a jackpot holding an obscenely large pile of tickets and want in on the action. Put some money into your trip budget for playing in the arcade and stick to it. And remember that that off-brand Slinky and finger skateboard was well worth the $30 your kid used to “win” them.
Don’t change swimsuits
Even if you are staying for a few days, I recommend keeping your whole party in the same swimsuits. It makes it easier to keep track of your kids, especially for those of us who aren’t wearing our glasses into the water. If you get separated it’s better to describe your kid as a 6-year-old boy with sandy hair wearing a white, yellow and orange bathing suit rather than he is a 6-year-old boy with wet hair. Most resorts have laundry facilities but if they don’t, a quick rinse in the shower and hanging to dry will make them good as new.
Know if you must bring towels
If the resort doesn’t have water park only towels, bring your towels from home. You will not want to use your room towels for drying off. Because all of a sudden you have no towels to dry off with after showering.
Pace yourself at a water park
With all-day access you don’t need to be in the water all-day long: 10 a.m. till 10 p.m. is an awful long time and eventually everyone will get bored. Take a break for a few hours, go find some local sites. Hang out in your room and take a nap. On our last trip, we went for three hours. Broke for lunch. Went back for another two hours or so. Dinner. And finally I took one of the kids for another two hours until they closed up, while my other one hung out in our room and watched Nickelodeon.
Indoor water parks in the NYC area:
- Aquatopia at Camelback Resort — Tannersville, Penn.
- CoCo Key Water Resort — Mount Laurel, N.J.
- Great Wolf Lodge — Scotrun, Penn.
- H20ooohh! Indoor Family Waterpark — Lake Harmony, Penn.
- Kalahari Resorts — Pocono Manor, Penn.
- Rocking Horse Ranch — Highland, N.Y.
- Sahara Sam’s Oasis Indoor & Outdoor Water Park — West Berlin, N.J.
A version of this first appeared on Great Moments in Bad Parenting.