Family-Friendly Entertainment

Dutch Wonderland A Kingdom for Kids & Dads! #sponsored #DWFamilyFun

7/13/14
Thank you to Dutch Wonderland for providing tickets for this review.  All opinions are my own.


Dutch Wonderland, family amusement parks 
My wife is 9 months pregnant (and uncomfortable) so she was not able to make the trip with us to Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA.  We’re from the Baltimore, MD metro area and the trip was a little over 2 hours each way by car.  My little girl (3.5 yrs) and I made the trip as a “Daddy Daughter Day”.   

Being that Baltimore is close enough to travel to Dutch Wonderland, we’ve been seeing a lot of their commercials on TV.  We spilled the beans to the Attic Baby a few weeks prior that she and I would be taking this day trip.  She was very excited and even more so when she would see these commercials on TV! 

It was my first time taking her to an amusement park on my own.   My wife packed everything she could think of us needing into our Daddy Diaper Pack including sunscreen, a bathing suit, extra change of clothes, wipes, pull-ups (we're still in the process of potty training), bandaids, and snacks & drinks for the road trip.

The day of our trip, AB and I left around 8:30AM and arrived at the park around 10:45AM.  Though the park opens at 10AM, the parking lot was already filling up quickly.  The parking lot was well marked on which way to go to park in the correct zone.  There was free parking in lot to the right as you enter the property or you can go left to pay for closer parking.  We opted for the free parking, but it still wasn’t that far of a walk to the entrance, maybe 3-4 minutes at most.  



Our day in the park was about to get underway and we had a beautiful day of weather ahead of us.  There were very few clouds in the sky and it was headed toward 90 degrees.  Before entering the gates of the Dutch Wonderland Castle we went through a quick, yet thorough bag check.  After that we waited only for 1-2 minutes to get inside the gates.  AB saw the castle and said "Daddy, where's the Princess?"



We decided head straight to Exploration Island at the rear of the park.  This is a newly configured area that we figured would get extremely busy as the day went on.  It took probably about 8-10 minutes to walk from the front gates to Exploration Island.  As you cross the bridge over the canals, there are two different boat rides that you see boarding to the right and left of the bridge.  Both looked like fun, but AB saw the antique car ride and had a one track mind.  Before heading to the car ride I told her we should go check out the dinosaur trail.  



When entering the dinosaur trail, I noticed how real these dinosaurs looked and how realistically they moved.  They were really cool looking and most kids seemed to be enjoying this area of exploration.   Unfortunately, the dinosaurs were real looking enough that AB was scared after the first few encounters and she asked me to take her out of there.   It was her first time seeing dinosaurs this real and up close.  The activities available there (like the dino dig) looked like a lot of fun, but we opted to skip over these this visit.   Maybe next year she'll be more ready for Exploration Island.


After leaving the dinosaur trail, it only took us about 1 minute to arrive at the antique car ride, The Turnpike.  We noticed that the line was wrapped all of the way to the end of the maze.  Just guessing, but maybe there were 80 people in front of us at that point.  Most people were riding in pairs with their kids and letting their kids steer the car.  Some kids in line were tall enough to drive and ride by themselves.  There were many times that I saw the ride operators pull out the measuring stick to make sure that the child was tall enough to ride alone for safety purposes.  


We waited and moved slowly through the maze of people until we finally reached the front of the line.  It was probably around 30 minutes wait to get to this point.  (This is something you'd expect on a busy weekend at a kids' amusement park.)  One thing that made the wait more bearable was the ceiling fans overhead to help people cool off.  AB had the time of her life driving this car!  I had to push the gas pedal for her, but she did the steering and she was aided by the steel rail that sits between your left and right wheels the whole way around the track.  


After leaving the antique car ride, we took our stroller and went to ride the monorail elevated train.  This train travels the whole way around the park.  We climbed the stairs to the ride and waited approximately 30 minutes to board this ride as well.  Unfortunately there were not any ceiling fans in this waiting line as it was pretty stuffy waiting on the train.   

One reason the wait is longer for this ride is there is just one train operating on this track, so you have to wait for the same riders to make the complete round trip before the train is empty to start boarding again.   The view from the train is nice and is a great spot to pick out some of the activities that you and your child would like to do throughout the rest of your day.  


AB and I enjoyed the Monorail train ride, but she was ready for the next activity as she had seen so many different things from her bird’s eye view.  

She really enjoyed the next ride as we got to go around a track in a string of monster trucks at Off- Road Rally.  Again she was grinning ear-to-ear as she felt like she was driving this monster truck and she loved that Dad gets to sit by himself in the back seat while she steers in the front seat.  There were no cooling fans for this ride, but the wait was probably only 10 to 12 minutes to get on this 3 minute ride.


After the monster trucks, we headed for the bathroom which was close by.  Seemed like they had plenty of bathrooms throughout the park.  The one that I went in with AB was very clean and in working condition with no waiting lines.  I took her in the men’s room with me, but I’m not sure how the lines were for the ladies rooms.  I did not notice any lines coming out the doors of any of the ladies bathrooms, so I’m assuming that there were plenty  of bathrooms for everybody.   
   


The next ride that AB wanted to ride surprised me as she pointed to the Sky Ride.  I wasn’t sure how she would do as this operates like a ski lift and I thought she might be scared of heights. Surprisingly she absolutely loved this ride!  The wait to get on was less than 10 minutes and we rode from the back of the park to the front of the park.  I’m guessing that the ride took about 8 to 10 minutes to ride from one end to the other.  You are not allowed to ride round trip so if you want to ride back like we did to get our stroller at the starting point, we had to exit the ride at the front of the park and go around to that ride entrance and ride back.  Again from this bird’s eye view AB was excited to point out different activities that she did not want to miss. 

By this point of the day AB and I were very thirsty, as we had only gotten a bottle of water from a beverage cart a couple of hours earlier.  The price of the water was reasonable at $2.99 per bottle.  At this point AB wanted some milk and I wanted some Mountain Dew.  I opted to get one of the Dutch Wonderland souvenir sports bottles that you can fill with soda and then pay $1.00 for each refill throughout the day (I believe throughout the rest of this season as well).  The sports bottle with drink in it was $8.99 which for the amount of soda and the souvenir value was well worth it.  I also enjoyed only paying another $1.00 to refill it again later in the day.  

We did not opt to get any food from the food court, but the food looked tasty from what I saw on other people’s plates.  Looked like there was plenty of variety from Chinese food to pizza and I’m pretty sure there were burgers and fries as well.  After a short rest in the nicely air conditioned food court area, we were ready to get back into the action. 

One of the attractions that AB spotted from the sky ride was the diving arena where they were about to have the Adventures of the Frog Prince diving show.  We went over about 15 minutes before the show and only had to wait for a couple of minutes for them to open the gates.  We went into the arena and had plenty of choices for seating area.  The lower seats were marked in red to show people where the “splash zone” was in case you were interested in getting wet during the show.  


The show started promptly at 3PM and they had AB’s attention from beginning to end.  It was an entertaining show for families from young to old.  The younger kids seemed to enjoy the story the most and the older generation like me enjoyed the complexity and precision of the talented divers.  They completed dives from various heights including one from a tower platform which was extremely high.  AB and the other little ones enjoyed greeting the cast on the way out of the stadium when the show was over.   


AB wanted to ride a few more rides before we went home so we squeezed in another ride on Off-Road Rally, a ride on Duke's Dozers, on the Panda Party ride.  The only ride of these that AB did not seem to like was the Panda ride.  She’s definitely a “Daddy’s Girl” so she didn’t like that I could not ride with her.  I also learned from the Panda ride that AB is not into rides that go around in circles.  We ended our day of rides with one last trip to the antique cars.  Again the wait time was about the same as before, but she did not want to miss another chance to get behind the wheel and show off her preschool driving skills. 

When we were nearing the front of the park, we poked our heads into the water park area and this looked like some place that you could go spend the day without even going on any other rides in the park.  Looked like there were tons of fountains and water slides and all sorts of water fun for different age groups.  She opted for rides rather than the water features, which was surprising since it was such a hot day.



On the way to the gift shop at the front gate, AB was bummed because in all of the fun we had, Daddy was not able to squeeze in one of the meet and greet sessions with Duke the Dragon and the princess.  However, on our way toward the gift shop we heard singing and music.  We wondered into the tent it was coming from and found Duke the Dragon and the princess dancing and singing with the cast of other performers.  We sat and watched the rest of the show and she was thrilled when they had a brief meet and greet for photos at the end of the show.  Duke and the Princess were definitely a hit!



We ended our fun day at Dutch Wonderland with AB getting a stuffed Duke the Dragon from the gift shop.  She was thrilled to have a new buddy to talk to and cuddle with on the ride home!


Some of my highlights of the park, aside from the fun rides for both parents & kids, were the positive and energetic staff.  I found the ride attendants to be very professional and detail oriented.  I felt very comfortable with little AB getting on any of their rides because I felt like the rides were well maintained and the ride attendants paid careful attention to safety details.  I was excited to play with AB in this amusement park and know that she has many years of fun to come at this park because I think it is geared best for kids between 3yrs and 6yrs old. 



Some tips to remember as parents when going to this park:

  • ·         Don’t forget your sunscreen.  There are plenty of nice shade trees, but there are still many areas of the park that are getting full sun and you need to keep that in mind so that you and your child do not bake. 

  • ·         Be aware of different safety concerns for little ones that are more than meets the eye.  For instance, I saw a boy put his head down between two and rails over at the antique car ride.  He did not get stuck, but I saw the panic on his mother’s face when he took the risk of getting stuck.  First hand AB was in a panic when she got her knee stuck between the slats in railings around the Monster Truck ride while we were waiting in line. 

  • ·         Another concern that I had to constantly remind myself of was stroller parking.  I felt very confident throughout the day that our stroller was safe wherever we parked it.  However,  one thing that can slip your mind is how hot your stroller is before putting your child back in the seat.  There is often shade to wait in line for a ride, but not shade over where you park your stroller, so make sure your stroller seat is not hot or burning to the touch before placing your child in the seat.  

My daughter hasn't stopped talking about our visit to Dutch Wonderland.  She can't wait to go back; there are so many things to see and do.  It really is a "Kingdom for Kids" & Dads!


ENJOY $3 OFF ROYALTY ADMISSION TICKETS (AGES 3-59) PURCHASE ONLINE AT DUTCHWONDERLAND.COM BETWEEN JULY 15, 2014 AND AUGUST 17, 2014.

Purchase Dutch Wonderland One-Day Royalty Admission Tickets (ages 3 to 59) ONLINE at DutchWonderland.com using discount code 141016 and receive $3 off each ticket purchased (valid on up to 4 admission tickets).


Use code 141016 online at DutchWonderland.com and receive $3.00 off the Royalty (ages 3-59) admission price. Up to four admissions per coupon. Valid only at time of purchase. Not redeemable for cash. Not valid online. Ticket must be purchased at DutchWonderland.com. 


Coupon not valid on any Two Day, Twilight, Combination Tickets, or Consecutive Day Admissions. Not valid in combination with any other discounts. This coupon may not be reproduced or sold. Discount valid July 15, 2014 through August 17, 2014.

For more information, call 1-866-FUNatDW or visit Dutch Wonderland.com .
 

Follow Dutch Wonderland's social media channels for updates, ticket deals, and contests:

Twitter: @FunatDW
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I am a 2014 Dutch Wonderland blogger; as such I received tickets in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
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Kerri said...

I have recently heard such great things about Dutch Wonderland and was thinking of taking a drive from NYC to visit.

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