For anyone looking for a family friendly amusement park in the Northeast, Dutch Wonderland typically comes up in conversation. This is an amusement park that is focused on families with children about 10 and under. It’s located near Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is about 2 hours from Washington, DC. After talking to my local Mom crew extensively, we made the trip this past weekend. Dutch Wonderland did not disappoint! We had a great time and truly benefited from those Mom crew chats. Which is why I want to pass on our Dutch Wonderland tips and everything you need to know to have a great day!
Dutch Wonderland Tips
#1 The Benefit of Focusing on Young Kids
Ok where to begin. First we had a great day with no meltdowns. No tears with both a 5- and 2-year-old at an amusement park all day is really high praise. I truly think that by taking them to an amusement park that was focused on their age range it eliminated a good portion of the stress. There were no crazy long lines filled with loud teenagers and they could both truly ride almost everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love large groups of teens (I mean who doesn’t?!) but I think dodging larger excited teens can add an element of stress when trying to navigate slower toddlers through a theme park. This was a huge win for us!
#2 Planning Your Day
Going to any amusement park can feel overwhelming. Where to start?! Dutch Wonderland has both plenty of rides and a fairly large splash area. We walked in and took our large bag of towels and swim suits straight to a locker. That eliminated the need to carry the hefty bag around. We then explained that we were going to come to Duke’s Lagoon after lunch when it was REALLY hot out so no one got upset that we weren’t splashing that very moment. This allowed us to have two hours of happy ride hopping before taking a lunch break.
After lunch we changed and hit the water. While this was a more crowded area, having a focus of almost all smaller kids helped it feel safe and secure for even Max. I have zero splashing photos since I was wet. Yes, we grown-ups even changed into our suits and got in on the action! We played for a good two hours in Duke’s Lagoon before getting dry, finding an ice cream snack and feeling refreshed for a few more late afternoon rides. It was a great way to break up the day!
Note: Remember to have a few dollar bills with you for the lockers! It was two dollars and the token machine only took $1 dollar bills.
#3 How Much Money Do You Need to Bring
I found that once in the park we didn’t spend that much money. I would recommend about $25 in small bills for lockers and games and then using a card for any food purchased. I typically have a “One souvenir purchased at the very end.” rule to eliminate begging for toys throughout the day. We did spend about $10 on fair like games. These games were easy for young kids and a great distraction for Max when only Jake was tall enough to ride the Bumper Cars. The best part was that both my children won a decent prize (Max was the big winner with a full sized Paw Patrol stuffed animal) that no one even needed or asked for a souvenir when we exited through the gift shop. It felt like we didn’t break the bank on a really great day which was nice.
#4. The Dive Show
The dive show was really fun! I’m normally not a big amusement park show goer (is that a thing?!) but the two dive shows were really great and our whole family was laughing and amazed at these divers acting out fun stories while taking on amazing feats. The best seats are the first few rows but you do get wet so beware!!
#5. Day Trip vs. Overnight
We really contemplated this one. At two hours each way there are plenty of reasons to spend the night and enjoy Pennsylvania country the next day. Dutch Wonderland even has cabin and camping options. However, the park does close at 8:30pm and we had a lot do the next day. For this trip we decided to come home. We left the park at 8pm and had two whole hours of sleeping kids in the back seat. After all that action they were happy to pass out while we were able to talk and relax (a rare treat!). Next summer once Max is a bit older we’re considering the cabin option as a fun way to dip our toes into the camping waters.
Finally make sure to take lots of photos and enjoy the day! We had so much fun we forgot to get a photo of all of us! This mama won’t make that mistake next time. Feel free to comment with your own tips and tricks for Dutch Wonderland or let me know if I missed any of your questions. Happy riding!
This is not a sponsored post. We just love travel and family fun!