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Waterpark Experts Advice & Tips

Planning a waterpark trip this summer? Being prepared for your outting can make all the difference for you and your family when you visit one of these attractions, so read on for some helpful advice and waterpark insider tips.

When to visit to avoid the crowds

America has hundreds of waterparks, both indoors and outdoors and of course we'd all rather visit when crowds are light.

Try visiting on a weekday instead of a weekend. Saturdays and holiday weekends are consistently the busiest days.

You might try visiting an indoor waterpark in the summer, since many will opt for an outdoor park instead, but this trick won't work for indoor waterparks in a resort area.

Always start your day by arriving before the park opens to beat the heat and crowds. You'll find you can ride more attractions in the first hour than you can for several hours during the peak afternoon rush.

Show up in the late afternoon when the crowds are leaving. Waterparks often offer admission discounts in the late afternoon or early evening to reward late arrivals.

Many parks allow re-entry, so you might consider arriving early, leaving for the middle of the day and returning in the late afternoon for more fun.

Admission discounts

Besides the discounted waterpark admission tickets sold here on you may look for deals from Costco, AAA and local in-market promotions at fast food restaurants or grocery stores.

What to bring

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. No one should go without waterproof sunscreen with SPF of 50 or higher. You should also reapply frequently, after getting in the water and especially after riding body slides.

Swimsuits without buttons or zippers are recommended since those with may not be permitted since they can damage certain slides.

One-piece suits for women are recommended, unless you're willing to possibly put on a show. Free-fall and speed slides are notorious for borrowing your bikini.

Swim diapers are usually required for infants and toddlers. Bring them or you'll pay a premium at the park's gift shop.

Sunglasses and a hat are great if you plan to lounge around the wave pool or float the lazy river all afternoon.

Flip flops, water socks or plastic shoes for walking around the park. The concrete and surfaces in park can become unbearable on a hot summer day.

Some parks rent a towel, but it's recommended that you bring your own.

Check with the park you plan to visit to see if they permit you to bring food and drinks. Some parks, like all of the Schlitterbahn Waterparks welcome coolers, so long as drinks are non-alcoholic and in non-glass containers. Bottled water is welcome at nearly all parks.

While outside food may not be welcome inside your park, you can always pack a cooler and have lunch in the parking lot or some parks even provide a picnic area outside the front gate.

What not to bring

Leave your cell phone at home or in the locker unless you want to risk water damage or loss.

Jewelry and other valuables should just be left at home as well. You can't wear them and lockers aren't always as secure as you might think.

Alcoholic beverages. Some parks may sell them, but they won't allow you to bring them in or tailgate in the parking lot.


Young children should wear a lifesaving device and many waterparks provide them for no charge.

Parents and guardians should always supervise young children around the pools, lazy river, wave pool and all other water attractions. There will never be enough lifeguards at the waterpark to properly supervise a young child in a pool environment. A waterpark is a fantastic family experience and you should be immediately present and watching your children at all times.

If you're pregnant you should not ride any of the attractions. Check the safety signage at each ride or direct your questions to the ride operator.

Set up a designated meeting spot when you arrive in case anyone gets lost. You and your children won't be carrying your cell phones, so this is important.

What to expect

Many rides will have an age and/or height requirement.

Prepare to be climbing stairs for most attractions. If you're in poor physical shape, disabled or elderly this may present a problem.

Expect there to be crowds. Setting expectations before you arrive will help you tolerate the crowds and make it a fun outing.

Areas of the park, including some lines, may have little to no shade from the sun.

Drink plenty of water. You should stop hourly for a drink of water and of course from the water fountain or concession stand, not the pool.

Some parks require you to rent inner tubes for the wave pool and lazy river. When you rent a tube you may also be able to avoid the line for waiting for a tube on rides that require them. Ask the park for details.

Final tips

If you're coming with a group of people or bringing the family then bring some cheap towels and set up a spot for the day on some of the park's lounge chairs. You can then return to this spot throughout the day to relax.

Look into renting a cabana for the day. While the price may seem pricey, you'll have reserved seats and shade, plus most parks provide a server for food and beverages and some have perks like express entry, complimentary tubes, towels and sunscreen.

And the most important tip of all. Have a fantastic time!

Now let our expert guides help you find a waterpark near you.