Summer is officially underway and for many families, a highlight of the season is hitting the waterpark. My family and I recently headed to Raging Waves, our favorite and Illinois’ largest waterpark, and had a blast. It’s a particularly fun place to visit with tweens and teens. We wanted to share some tips to help you make the most of your day at the waterpark.
Do check the weather forecast — and don’t give up hope if it’s raining
We planned to go on a Saturday and when we woke up to a steady downpour, disappointment set in. I checked the weather forecast, however, and it said that we weren’t socked in and that it would clear in a few hours. The showers moved out and so did we. It turned out to be a warm, sunny afternoon. The rain seemed to scare a lot of people away as the crowds were light.
A corollary to this is do check the water park’s social media accounts to make sure that they’re open.
It’s also wise to know the park’s policy in the event of inclement weather. For example, at Raging Waves has a weather guarantee, meaning if the park closes during your visit, you will get a ticket to return for another day.
Don’t miss out on a chance to bond with your tweens and teens
While you should give your kids a chance to be on their own, you should be sure to have fun with them, too. We met up with my daughter and her friend to go on a few different rides that allowed for four people in a raft.
Does someone over 40 belong on a ride called the Wonambi that generates “high speed, near-vertical, zero gravity moments”? Probably not. But I did it anyway, and was glad I did. (Also, there were a ton of families together, which was fun to see.)
We are excited to return a bit later in the summer when we can race each other on the Wild Wallabies, the newest slides in the park that weren’t yet open when we were there. If you have little ones, definitely take time to enjoy the interactive play features with them. They’ll delight in seeing you stand under a large octopus that spouts water like the one in the new Quokka-Nut Island at Raging waves, which is for kids ages 2-5 and their grown-ups.
Do give your kids some freedom
A water park is a great place let your kids explore and have fun on their own. At 58 acres, Raging Waves is big, and they love feeling like they have control over where they go. It’s also well-staffed, the lifeguards are very on top of things and the park itself is contained, so parents have peace of mind, too. It’s a win-win. Do have a set meeting place and time, and use that same place in case of an emergency.
Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for the lazy river
While your kids are off doing their thing, enjoy the adult time! My husband and I had the best time chilling out on the lazy river. The one at Raging Waves is a quarter-mile long, so it gives you plenty of time to really relax. There’s nothing like a good float down a lazy river to make me feel like I’m living my best summer life.
My only regret was that we saved this for last and while one trip around was great, two times around would have been better.
Do remind kids to follow the rules
This sounds basic but a quick refresher in the car of the kind of behavior you expect isn’t a bad thing, and following the rules and heeding the directives of lifeguards is really important at the water park. They’re there for a reason! Put in a plug for being kind to the younger kids while you’re at it.
Don’t forget sunscreen, and don’t forget to keep applying it.
Even on cloudy days, sunscreen is important. Tweens and teens aren’t likely to remember to reapply, so a gentle reminder can be helpful.
Do leave valuables at home or in the car
You don’t want to have to worry about keeping track of valuables and making sure that they stay dry. If you can leave items like wallets and phones in your car, do so. While lockers are available, they’re small and not using them is a way to save money.
Along the same lines, consider leaving jewelry at home. It didn’t happen on this trip, but I’ve been a member of a search party for a wedding ring on more than one water park trip before, and trust me, you don’t want to be in the position.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Kids are all about the slides and the waves, and while they’re immersed in water, they likely aren’t drinking much water. Encourage kids to hydrate, especially when it’s hot out.
Water parks have varying rules about bringing in beverages, but Raging Waves permits factory-sealed bottled water and allows empty water bottles that you can fill up at drinking fountains once you’re in the park.
Do enjoy a frozen treat
I was a bit surprised that the teens sat and enjoyed an ice cream cone with us at the water park. They were happy to have a treat (and had worked up a pretty good appetite after a few hours.) Just be careful and don’t plan a crazy slide or ride right after you eat.
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