For my daughter’s 5th birthday, we celebrated at Dutch Wonderland. The park promotions department was kind enough to sponsor our tickets in exchange for writing about our experience on this blog (and those savings to our family have been donated to Suicide Prevention). They have also graciously provided a $4 coupon for readers here (link updated for 2018, or use promocode: summerblog18). I have also sprinkled some general information about traveling with kids in this post including plane travel. See here for info about sunblocks and bug sprays.
We start almost every trip with a smoothie (check out this post for more smoothie ideas). Here I’ve added frozen mango, spinach, hemp seed, plain yogurt, and a banana. I took the photo just before I added some soy milk (usually I use almond milk, but I ran out). Sometimes I’ll have the kids help me pour in the ingredients or ask them to pick out which frozen fruits we’ll put in. Starting off the day with a nutritious filling smoothie makes me less worried about their diet the rest of the day we are out.
Finally we arrive at Dutch Wonderland, and we have to decide on a parking lot. The general parking lot is not that far away. $5 it is! Plus, having gone on a cool, slow day, we were able to get a parking spot pretty close to the preferred lot.
This photo shows the walkway from the general parking lot to the the park. The park entrance is on the other side of the blue building. While we unload the stroller and stretch, I offer the kids some snacks. Important to anticipate the hangry.
First things first. Apply sunblock. See this post about how to choose sunblock and bug spray for your kids. (Ok, it was cloudy and I forgot, so this photo is actually from our lunch break).
There is a park officer at the entrance of the park who does a bag check. The park does not allow food or drinks, but you can bring plenty of water. We brought a lot and I have to admit I don’t think my kids drank enough. Once we entered we went to the bathroom because nothing is worse than a child whining to go potty once you get on a ride. I learned to put a piece of toilet paper over the sensor to avoid the automatic flush which often goes of mid pee and can be very scary to kids.
Finally we get to the rides! We started off with the monorail to get an overall glimpse of the park. My 5 year old enjoyed many rides including the smaller rollercoaster (purple below). We went on that one 3 times in a row with another kid because no one was in line! By the way, I am totally a fan of taking kids out of school to spend time with them and experience places together without crowds. The only ride my 2 year old would go on was the carousel and the panda (which she cried through, but at least still got on). One of our favorites was the giant slide. I also loved the exercise I got from going up all those stairs. Honestly, I went on it multiple times for the work out.
The park also features some entertaining and interactive shows with singing and dancing (on the left) and diving and splashing (on the right). Later this summer they will probably open up a hanging roller coaster Merlin’s Mayhem! Currently still under construction, which was kind of cool to see all the parts lined up and bulldozers and giants pits in the ground where the ride will be.
Overall we had really great time at Dutch Wonderland. I highly recommend the park to families with kids 2 years old and up. While my 2 year old was not into the rides, many other 2 year olds were braving the spinning and flying. Please let me know if there is anything else you would like to know about the park (find me on Twitter @Betamomma).
Other general travel thoughts:
- Pack your child’s medications (any inhalers, spacers, allergy medications, eye drops, Epi-Pen). I also recommend bringing ibuprofen and acetaminophen (in case of pain or discomfort from fever), diphenhydramine (in case of an allergic reaction), and of course antibiotic ointment and bandaids. When traveling to another country, one never knows how the nose will react (see what I did there), so I pack flonase (on a trip to Taiwan I got so congested that I couldn’t taste the delicious savory foods for about one week!), claritin or zyrtec. Also for the adults, stomach meds such as zantac, gas X, and tums.
- Pack entertainment. I had brought some compact board games, paper, and crayons in case we went to a restaurant and they got bored. (We ended up not going because the 2 year old zonked out in the car as I was looking up a smorgasbord diner.) Don’t forget we can use ourselves as entertainment with games like I spy, simon says, and silly songs! I try to avoid relying on screen time as much as possible, see this post for my recommendations and real life examples on that topic.
- Pack extra clothes. Especially at Dutch Wonderland, because they also have water activities, which wasn’t open yet for our trip. Many places such as Longwood Gardens have fountains where kids can get wet.
- Lastly, pack snacks. And more snacks. No need to add on the stress of cranky kids to a trip.
- Parents often have questions about ear pain from build up of pressure as the plane ascends and descends. Not every kid experiences pain, but in case they do, pack lollipops for kids 2 years+ (one of the few reasons my kids get one, and I prefer the flat shapes to avoid choking on a small round object) or gum for older kids. Younger kids under 2 can be given a bottle or infants can be breastfed. The thought is that the sucking or chewing action helps to ventilate the pressure behind the ears. Crying also helps, so don’t be too alarmed if your child cries a little. It might help in the long run. If the pain or discomfort persists, then break out the ibuprofen (only for kids 6 months or older) or acetaminophen. Packing some ear plugs and candy for your flight seat neighbors may also be a welcome gesture.
Check out more tips on traveling with kids from the American Academy of Pediatrics here.