10 Tips to get the most from your Water Park Experience

By Colette House, Daily Herald Correspondent

Magic Waters Rockford

Dive into one of the suburbs’ many water parks to beat the summer heat and keep kids entertained all day long. Numerous water slides, concession stands, and out of water activities appeal to a variety of age groups and offer up plenty of family fun.

Water parks aren’t just about the slides, although those are pretty great attractions! Many water parks offer special events, swim lessons, and out of water activities, all perfect ways to enjoy long summer days.

10 ways to get the most out of your water park experience

1) Consider investing in a season pass. If you’re planning to frequent your local water park more than once this summer, a season pass might be the way to go. It’s simpler than paying every time and allows you to enjoy the park as much as you want.

2) Use your water park for more than just the slides. While water parks offer super fun slides, lazy rivers and splash pads, they often also offer swim lessons and the chance for kids to participate on a swim team. Your local water park can provide one day of fun, but also teach valuable swimming skills to kids by taking lessons throughout the summer. Make sure you take full advantage of all the extra lessons your water park offers.

3) Attend special events at your water park. Parks know they are a destination for families looking to cool off on hot summer days and nights and typically plan special events throughout the summer. Otter Cove Aquatic Park in St. Charles offers events every few days in June, July and August. Enjoy a family night out at their Flick-n-float on July 15 or take kids to the Biggest Splash Contest event on July 23. The Oswegoland Park District Aquatic Park in Oswego offers fun events including Paddle, Pedal, Paddle, Plunge (a bike and swimming events) on July 8 and the Ohana Luau in August. Check Oaklee’s Family Guide events or your local park’s event calendar for a full list of their offerings.

4) Remember water parks aren’t only about having fun in the water. Kids on summer break can swim for hours on end, but sometimes even the most avid swimmers need a rest. Some water parks, including Otter Cove, set up sand play areas where children can enjoy a game of sand volleyball. Snack time is made simple at water parks’ many concession stands. If kids still want to get wet, but need a break from swimming, they can hang out by splash pads and get sprayed with water without having to swim, although it’s mostly little children that play in these areas.

5) Don’t forget to pack the essentials. Steve Gard, aquatic supervisor at Otter Cove, says the following are essentials for a day in the water and sun: a lined bathing suit, a towel, drinking water and sunblock. Remember that reflective surfaces, like water, reflect the sun’s rays and can cause more severe sunburns, so continually reapply sunblock throughout the day.

6) Leave nonessentials behind. Different water parks have different rules, but more than likely you’re not going to be allowed to wear jewelry in the pools. You can rent or store valuables in a locker, but sometimes it’s just simpler to leave all jewelry, cameras and tablets safe at home.

7) Dress appropriately. Lined swimsuits are the only attire allowed in the water. Every park has its own guidelines, but most prohibit patrons from swimming in basketball shorts, sports bras, shorts or clothing that has zippers or buttons. Wear a cover-up to enter the pool, and then it’s bathing suits only once you hit the water.DPPD Beluga-Beach_7970

8) Safety first. To have the most fun at the park, remember to obey all the rules. Observe any height restrictions mandated for specific rides, walk don’t run near the pools, and don’t bring any glass containers or bottles into the water park that could shatter where families often walk barefoot.

9) Make sure your flotation devices are U.S. Coast Guard approved. Water parks have strict rules about the types of flotation devices patrons can bring with them. Otter Cove does not allow inflatables, arm floaties or pool noodles. They also provide Coast Guard-approved life jackets for patrons to use at their leisure. Make sure you check which life jackets and flotation devices your park allows. When shopping for these accessories, make sure the tag says the product is U.S. Coast Guard approved.

10) Have fun! Fun is what water parks are all about! Whether you’re looking to enroll your children in swim lessons or just looking for a day of family bonding, they have something to offer everyone. So grab your bathing suit and slide down your favorite water slide again and again this summer.