Dutch Wonderland2249 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17602 visit site, hours, directions, tickets
I will fully admit that currently taking the boys out can be a little intimidating. The flip out factor for both of them is pretty high these days. But me being me… I started feeling ambitious again so naturally that means….amusement park time. For my day of craziness I chose Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA. DW is approx. 90 minutes or the length of Toy Story 2 outside of Philly. Not close but not the end of the world. I packed for armagedon and we were off to just see how far we can push the fun factor these days.
Dutch Wonderland is an amusement park specifically for toddlers and considering it has been around such a long time I figured they must be doing something right (sans the outdated looking fantasy characters on their website). Before I went I did double check that both my 19 month old and 3 year old would be equally satisfied with ride options. I have always said the boys are close in age but far in stages so finding a place that works for both of them is my daily challenge. On the Dutch Wonderland site they actually do a really good job of breaking down the rides by age and letting your know your options. Each age is associated with a color and you will also find boards in front of every ride that uses the same system. I was actually surprised by how much my 19 month old could go on. Worth noting that I could also go on most of the rides with the boys. If you have been to Sesame Place and dealt with the kid’s only-intimidating giant slide and bounce-a-bounce (worst designed one ever btw) you know this is a huge plus.
So let’s get down to it. Yes. I think Dutch Wonderland is worth going to. The park is small enough that you don’t get lost but actually big enough that you can spend the whole day. All the rides, like I said, are toddler friendly and they range from your standard boardwalk amusements like trucking going around in a circle to a tilt-a-whirl to those mega slides where you use a potato sack to ride down on (first time on that and I loved it). Then you have the old time cars on a set track that you “drive” around, the Tilt-a-House (which is so not for everyone) and of course pony rides. During the week the lines are not that long on most rides and I can also say the rides themselves are not that long. As an adult I thought that was odd but for toddlers it probably makes a lot more sense.
Waterpark @ Dutch Wonderland
As an added bonus they also have a decent little water park (included in price of admission). There are two mega slides for the teenagers and thrill seeking
Dads in your life. Adjacent to that is a whole spash pad water fun park area. Again it is not huge but big enough to keep them entertained. The water slides in this part are perfect for toddlers. Again comparing it to Sesame Place…Henry can’t do the slides in Counts Splash Castle but these were just his size and he did them over and over again. My only complaint about this area is that there is not enough seating. It pretty much gets taken right away but honeslty I did not get a “high theft” vibe from DW so I felt safe stashing stuff in my stroller and leaving it on the perimeter. This is the only spot they ask you not to take your stroller into. Again you leave it on the permimeter and you can see it the whole time. They do have Cabana rental but I would skip that and make due like everyone else. There are also changing room right outside the waterpark but I just changed them off to the side in the grass…I hate extra steps at this age.
Oh and did I make it out alive? Clearly, but I will say that Ollie rename the place Meltdown Wonderland and robbed Henry (and by Henry I mean me) of a few extra trips down the Mega Slide so I think I will wait to go back next summer. But we will be back.
Cost: 3-59 years old $35.00 / 60-69 years old $30.00. We went the day before Henry turned 3 so both boys were free. Do I think you could pass your three year old off as a two year old and get them in for free? Stranger things have (yes, totally, do it) happened. Tickets
Food: This disappointed me big time. You are not allowed to bring food into the park. They search your bags before you go in. I grabbed a salad which was super disappointing…like I knew it would be. The only other things there were your standand pizza, burger, hot dog and fries. Sesame Place actually does a better job. My thing is, if you are not going to offer kid’s a great selection of healthy options let me bring in my own food. Food for two adults and two kids cost me about $40. There is a picnic area outside by the parking lot but come on… the lugging invovled to get the kids out and back in the park was so not worth it to me. * I will say that we ate a tthe Millstream Eatery which was inside and air conditioned that did seem to settle everyone down a bit.
Bring: You want to remeber to bring stuff so they can go in the splash pad and towels. Even though the park is cozy I think it is totally worth it to bring your stroller. There was always plenty of parking outside or next to each ride.
Parking: You can park for free to the right in a big lot or you can park right in front for $10.00. I will say it is not like Sesame Place where the costly Preferred Parking is just as far away as the General Parking but for Dutch Wonderland you will be fine with General FREE Parking.
Time: Everyone’s kids have a a different meltdown clock. We were there from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. My friend Krystin that has a 1 year old and a 5 year old was there from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm. So depending on your kids you can stay most the day or the entire day.