I have a good blogging buddy who lives in Lancaster, PA. She takes her kids to Dutch Wonderland quite often. (They have season passes which are definitely worth it if you live close enough to go multiple times a year. Go at least three times and you've paid for the pass.) She's told me countless times about how much her children love it, and how kid friendly it is. In fact, it's great for the toddlers and the kiddos under the age of 10. Hmmm.... I have a toddler and a kiddo under the age of 10! So, of course I wanted to see what Dutch Wonderland was all about. What kid doesn't love fun?? And for that matter, what kid doesn't like castles, and knights, and queens, and everything royal? We were lucky enough to visit Dutch Wonderland this past weekend "on assignment".
This year Dutch Wonderland, home to Princess Brooke, Duke the Dragon, the Knight of Safety, and Merlin, opened its doors for its 50th season! It's usually a good sign when something is able to stick around for so long. There must be something great about it that keeps the people coming year after year. Dutch Wonderland has more than 30 kid-friendly rides (with only 1 that my kids weren't tall enough to ride), several live shows throughout the day, Duke's Lagoon water play zone, and miniature golf. We knew we wanted to go to Duke's Lagoon, and check out the rides. My blogger friend said to do the water play zone first and then eat lunch before exploring the rest of the park... and I can see why. It was already 80ºF by 10am the morning we went, but because we were early enough the water zone was manageable. By the time we left the park, the parking lot was PACKED, but the ride areas still had super small lines. My guess.... everyone was in the water zone.
One of the best things about Dutch Wonderland is there many restrooms (that are mostly pretty clean for how many people are using them), affordable single-use lockers ($1 for a small one, and $2 for a large one), and their large changing rooms. We came in bathing suit ready, and dropped our stuff off in a big locker. When we got to Duke's Lagoon we realized there were a ton of lounge chairs too to drop your stuff off at if you don't want to pay for a locker. There was a little sprinkler type playground area, but my kids quickly figured out that there were water slides just a little further in.
We spent probably well over 2 hours in Duke's Lagoon. There was plenty of friendly staff around to make sure the kids were staying safe and enforce any rules they had. My kids I think went on the slides at least 50 consecutive times. At LEAST. They had the best time. I don't think I've seen them any happier. The green slide is short and sweet but creates a big splash at the end. The yellow slide allows for parents to go down with their smaller kids. (Yup. I definitely took advantage of that. Hey.... I like water slides too!) Then there is the bigger twisty red slide. The kiddos liked it, but they usually stuck with the green slides. My arms are still sore from lifting them out of it over... and over.... and over....
In addition to the three slides, there are several hoses, and wheels and spouts for the kids to play with. Somehow I managed to keep my camera dry, but let's just say it was a little touch and go for a bit. SO. MUCH. WATER! Duke's Lagoon also has two HUGE slides. One is blue that allows light in, and the other is black so you go down almost the entire way in complete darkness. We took the kids on the black one because the line was a little shorter and we needed to get a move on so we could do more stuff. The only kids not allowed on the ride were hand-held infants. As long as your raft weighs at minimum of 90lbs and doesn't exceed 350lbs you're good to go! Hubby took the little guy, and I went with my daughter. Neither kid screamed, and they just giggled and laughed the entire way down. They're a bunch of brave little troopers.
When we were finished splashing around in Duke's Lagoon, we decided to change into dryer clothes and head back to the car for lunch. There are PLENTY of places to eat IN Dutch Wonderland, but we had packed a lunch. Unfortunately you're not allowed to bring food inside, and they do check your bags as you're walking in. That's kind of a bummer, especially if you end up in a less than awesome parking space. (There is preferred parking for $10. The rest is free.) They DO provide shaded eating areas outside, but it was so hot, we decided to sit in the AC to eat. When you leave Dutch Wonderland, if you're planning on coming back that day you need to get your hand stamped for re-entry.
Because our kids were getting tired, and the thermostat in the car was reading 100ºF, we decided to take our time, stay in the shade as much as possible, and only go on some of our choice rides. There was plenty to do and see but we knew we'd have a couple hour drive home, and the heat was just a little too much for us. The Dutch Wonderland grounds are beautiful! They are really well maintained and the landscaping is eye catching. Even some ducks enjoyed a dip in one of the ponds. There is a little train attraction goers can hop on that goes around the park grounds. It looked super cute, but we ended up bypassing that due to lack of time. We decided to go for a quick ride on the carousel. Yes. Mommy also rode one of the carousel horses.
One neat service Dutch Wonderland offers is on-site photographers. They'll walk around at certain rides and asd if you'd like a picture taken. Within about an hour you can go pick it up somewhere. Yes... you have to pay for it. I think it's nice for those people who forgot cameras, but for people like me who always have one on them, it's a service I'll always bypass.
Like I said, we decided to bypass some rides that had lines directly under the sun. But there were several more things we could have done. We did go on The Joust mini-roller coaster. Hubby um... was a little big for it, but the kids loved it. My son JUST made the height requirement (36") but he loved it. We were one of two families on it. I think we probably could have stayed on for another go-around if we had the time. We could have done that with several other rides as well.
Dutch Wonderland also offered pony rides (but I think perhaps you might have needed to pay). There was also face painting, caricatures, some gem stone mining thingy, however those were all additional costs so we bypassed those as well. Cute, but not money we wanted to spend. We did enjoy the log flume ride! Kids got a kick out of it and I think we were all grateful to get splashed a bit and cool off. We wanted to go on the ski lift that takes you back down to the front of the park, but we would of had to leave our stroller and either walk back to get it, or hope the line wasn't very long and hop back on.... and then walk all the way back to the front of the park again. So, we skipped that as well. We REALLY wanted to go on the bigger roller coaster, but my son definitely wasn't big enough, and my daughter missed the height cutoff by about a quarter of an inch. Looked super fun though!
As we were walking our way back through the park to start our trek back home, we happened to see Princess Brook and some of her royal comrades! They were rushing to get to their next Princess Story Time show. We also found Merlin dancing along with a band that was dancing to their music and entertaining the crowd that had gathered. That was the perfect way to end our day!
Now I know why my friend has season passes for her kiddos to Dutch Wonderland! This place was perfect for little kids, and SO much fun. Duke's Lagoon I think was our favorite part overall, but we enjoyed every part of it. It was laid out well, there were plenty of things to do, and you could always find some shade when you needed it. If we lived closer I'd definitely spring for the season passes and take my kids as often as possible. I also forgot to mention that kids 2 and under (Royalty in Training) get in FREE, seniors are discounted, and adults over the age of 70 also get an additional discount. Super family friendly, bright, cheery, friendly, CLEAN, and just an overall good time. My husband and I said this had been one of our best weekend trips away from home. Everyone had a blast!
*I was provided entry free of charge for myself and my family by Dutch Wonderland in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.
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