Thank you to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom for hosting my family so I could share these smart tips for visiting Dorney Park with elementary-aged kids. All opinions are 100% my own.
I have before shared the special connection my family has with Dorney Park (read the story about my dad HERE!), and this was such a sweet, sweet spot to visit when my kids were little (Planet Snoopy is the best!). The cool thing about Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom? Not only is a timeless treasure and perfect for young families, it is also a genius spot for thrill-seekers of all ages. Now that my kids are in elementary school, our day there looks a bit different, but is still such a win! Read on for tips to making the most of visiting Dorney Park with elementary-aged kids…
10 Smart Tips for Visiting Dorney Park with Elementary-Aged Kids
- Start at Wildwater Kingdom. This is my #1 tip, regardless of age. The majority of park-goers begin their day on dry land, then migrate over to the water park when temps start to rise. By scheduling your visit in reverse, you can beat some significant crowds, which ultimately leads to more ride fun! Pro tip: be aware Wildwater Kingdom doesn’t open until 10:30am. This worked well for us, as we hit the restroom, sorted our passes and go sunscreened-up. If you get there before Wildwater Kingdom opening, you could also use the extra time to hi one special ride before crowds touch down
- Along these lines, get there early. Earlier than the 10am opening time if possible (parking and bathroom trips always take longer than you think!). The park always fills up as the day progresses, so your best shot of avoiding lines is always early in the day.
- For elementary-aged children, there is PLENTY to do in Wildwater Kingdom, so budget large on time here. As in, we could have easily spent the whole day there! There are splash pad areas (which my kids decided they were too old for just this year). The wave pool is wonderful for all ages, and my kids are now old enough to enjoy the fantastic array of water slides Wildwater Kingdom has! My daughter went down the Python Plummet for the first time and had the time of her life!
- After you finally wrest your crew away from all the splashing fun, make a trek out to your vehicle to ditch your bag (which you will have packed with dry clothes and have now changed into; reapply sunscreen at your car before heading back in). This is one of the perks of having older kids–no need for strollers or diaper bags! We each carried water bottles, and were set for an afternoon and evening of unencumbered fun! Pro-tip: Wildwater Kingdom is super-close to the park entrance, so this bag drop-off will only be a few steps added to your day–and well worth it!
- You can pack a lunch/dinner to eat while you make this vehicle pit-stop, or you can eat in the park. Plenty of food to please every palate! Consider even getting a couple of dining plans for your family. You can get a new meal every 90 min., so two dining plans are easily enough food to feed a family of four for the day!
- If you have a child on The Spectrum or with other needs, use the Boarding Pass Program! We utilize this program at all amusement parks we visit (my son makes good use of the sensory break rooms, and is unable to tolerate long days of heightened activity), and I love the extra help Dorney Park specifically offers to those on The Spectrum.
- Dorney Park is well-known for it’s epic coasters–they are big, cool, and awesome! While our elementary-aged kiddos were either too short or a bit wary for some of these thrill rides, others perfectly fit the bill (the Wild Mouse is a huge hit!). Spend a moment with the ride map/guide at the beginning of the day and plan which ones you’d like to hit.
- Allow your kids the option to explore Planet Snoopy! Rather than writing off “the kiddie rides”, give them time to go on whatever rides in this area of the park they wish. While my children’s interest in Planet Snoopy was diminished compared to earlier years, they were still keen on the musical show (Space Beagle), The Kite Eating Tree, Linus Launcher, Snoopy’s Rocket Express, and Woodstock’s Wagon Wheel.
- Find the sweet spot in between the huge and the little rides–there are many of them, and our kids couldn’t get enough of these rides! Check out our favorites: Apollo, Musik Express, Sea Dragon, Scrambler, Dodgem (bumper cars), Wave Swinger, Whip (my personal favorite!), and the classic Tilt-a-Whirl–and there are still more rides in the “family category” that are super for all ages and bridge the gap between big and little kids so well!
- GO WITH IT. This age and stage of kiddos is so great! There is so much they enjoy and delight in, but since they are still sorting what their interests and comfort levels are, be prepared to be flexible and roll with the day–whatever they want to do! Our kids were so pumped for Steel Force, but when we made it to the top of the queue, they both became quite fearful. An amusement park day is supposed to be FUN, so rather than push, we calmly exited through the ride and moved on to Thunderhawk, a coaster better suited to our crew.
Now that you have the scoop on visiting Dorney Park with elementary-aged kids, it’s time to plan your visit this summer! It will be a family day you’ll love and long remember! I can’t wait to hear all about it, friends 🙂