Have you heard of Dutch Wonderland? It’s a 43-acre family amusement park located in Lancaster, PA surrounded by beautiful Amish country and is so much FUN! Dutch Wonderland has over 35 rides, shows and a huge water area and is absolutely perfect for kids and families. This park has been around since the late 70’s and is a must see if you are ever in Pennsylvania. Last week we took our first, and definitely not our last, visit to Dutch Wonderland and had a blast. My kids (aged 9, 7 and 5) just loved it and had so much fun that they slept like rocks that night. It’s full of fun rides, activities, and will keep your kids busy from when you get there until you leave.
Before You Go
While visiting an amusement park doesn’t need any prep work like our visit to Gettysburg did, you should consider buying your tickets in advance online. Normal ticket price is $39.99 at the gate, but if you go online and buy them 3 days ahead of time you can purchase them for $36.99 and if you get them 7 days in advance you will save even more and purchase them for $33.99 each. That’s a pretty substantial savings for a large family, so it’s worth doing it. Check out Dutch Wonderland online to purchase tickets.
What to Bring
While no outside food is allowed in the park, you are permitted to bring in water and I would recommend bringing A LOT of it, especially if you are visiting in the warmer months. We brought the kid’s three water bottles and an additional 5 bottles of water and we completely ran out at the end of the day! To help lug all of that around I would suggest bringing a stroller (if you have kids in strollers) or a wagon (like we did), or if you have bigger kids or don’t want to drag anything around, then a backpack for sure to help carry all of that water. Also, comfortable shoes are a must- I am pretty sure we walked around 5 miles in total! Other items to bring: sunblock (lots of it!), hats and, if you are planning on visiting the water park don’t forget swim suits, towels, bags for wet stuff, shoes that can get wet (we brought crocs), dry clothes and your camera– of course!
Where we went
Everywhere! The park kind of divided into three areas: the main park, Exploration Island, and Duke’s Lagoon (the water area) and of course we visited every section and went on every single ride. There are plenty of rides to choose from and one thing I loved was how there was a good mix of rides for older kids and for younger kids.
There were plenty of signs that told you how to get around the park and also at each ride there was a sign that told you how tall you had to be to go on it. It was easy to know if your little ones could ride or not, and thankfully, almost all of the rides were ok for all my peas.
All around the park there are quaint little houses and things to see, so if you had a younger one that had to wait while bigger brothers or sisters rode the roller coaster, they could explore these while they wait. The whole park has a great layout with lots of shade too- and while, yes it was warm that day, we didn’t sweat out butts off due to all of the trees and shade throughout the park.
The Main Park
Another thing I liked about Dutch Wonderland was the fact that you could see it all in one day. Sometimes those super huge theme parks are so overwhelming for kids and adults, it’s hard to get a bearing on what you should see and what to skip if you run out of time. My kids went on every ride here and some even multiple times. Their favorites in the main park were the roller coasters, of course. They get there bravery from their Dad because I am not a fan of these scary rides- but they sure were!! There are two roller coasters, the smaller Joust Family Coster and the much larger Kingdom Coaster. My itty bitty 5 year old was allowed to ride both, but had to ride with her big brother or sister on the Joust Coaster and had to ride with my husband on the Kingdom Coaster.
Now while I didn’t ride the big one (no thanks!!) my husband said it didn’t go too fast but was lots of fun and my kids thought it was the bees knees so unless you have teenage dare devils, I can almost guarantee any aged kids you have will love these rides.
They also really loved the Wonderland Special Train and the Monorail that both went around the entire park. They were a fun way to see everything and also rest your feet for awhile!
One of the best parts about Dutch Wonderland was that none of the ride’s lines were that long! The longest one we waited in was probably about 10 minutes for the Double Splash Log Flume ride. That’s a ride I did go on and it was fun, even though on the photo that you can buy at the end, my whole family is holding their hands up smiling and I’m in the back, not looking and hugging my 7 year old- yea, they all got a good laugh at mom with that one!
In Exploration Island you are transported back to prehistoric days and are surrounded by dinosaurs! There are over 20 life like dinos that you can check out and learn about. From the giant T-Rex to a flying pterodactyl overhead, all of your dinosaur loving kids will be in awe in this section.
There is the Gondola ride, where you can take a lazy cruise around the island and take a ride on the Sunoco Turnpike and finally take some time to become a paleontologist and work on uncovering hidden ancient fossils in a shaded sandy bed. There is a gift shop in this area too that has plenty of dino prizes, if you are so inclined to buy any and while there are no fast paced rides in this section, even my 9 year old enjoyed spending some time in this area too.
Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Duke’s Lagoon is the perfect place for families to cool down on these warm summer days! There are a few huge splash an slide structures that are all zero depth, so it’s like one giant splash pad, which makes is perfect for all aged kids- even babies!
Each structure is full of water dumping, squirting and splashing all around you and is non-stop fun for your kids. Adults are welcome to were their suits and I would highly suggest bring yours since it does get so warm during those summer months. I loved how the whole section was on one of those padded ground structures so little ones didn’t hurt their feet running around and it also made it not as slippery.
This was by far the busiest section of the park when we went, so watch your littles closely, especially since you are around so much water. There are also plenty of chairs, tables and shade structures if you want a break to sit and relax.
The Pipeline Plunge are two large tube raft slides that kids and adults can ride, but one thing to mention is that the combined weight of the people riding it MUST be 90 pounds, so if you have petite kids like mine, they may not be able to ride without an adult- which is another great reason to bring a swim suit! There are also food options in here and a store where you can buy souvenir towels, bathing suits and shoes- if you forgot yours.
This was my water loving kids favorite place in park- and the cool water was a welcome change from the heat!
Where we ate
There are lots of places to eat in the park and plenty of options for different food preferences. We chose to eat at the Mill Stream Eatery, which had both indoor and outdoor tables and serves your typical park foods like hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, hot dogs, chicken and salads. The portions were a good size so you may even get way with your younger kids sharing a meal, since there are no “kid” meals. If you are crazing something sweet, there are plenty of shops around the park that serve dip n’ dots, slushies, Rita’s Italian Ice and, my favorite, Dole Whips- YUMMY!
Besides for all of rides, be sure to stop and see a few of the free shows during the day. They play at different sections of the park and have the entertainment schedule listed on the map. One of the shows we saw was the Decades of Dutch Wonderland show where the Princess Brooke, the Knight of Safety and Duke played and danced to some top hits over the years. At the end they allow for few minutes of time to get your kid’s photo with them if you want!
Things to avoid
Not bringing enough water
Not bringing sunscreen!!
Every restaurant had a hand washing station inside, which is a great pace to wash messy hands, and we noticed that towards supper time, the lines all but disappeared, so much in fact that my kids got to ride the Kingdom Coaster 12 TIMES IN A ROW! If your kids love these rides, you may want to hit them up again at the end of the day for some more fun.
Overall we just loved our time at Dutch Wonderland and highly recommend it if you live in the northeast or are coming through this way. It was fun, entertaining and “the best time EVER MOM!!”, according to my kids- and what can be better than that?!
To learn more about Dutch Wonderland and purchase tickets, check then out online, on Facebook, twitter and follow the photo fun over on Instagram. If you are visiting, be sure to #DutchWonderland while you are there!
Have you ever been to Dutch Wonderland? Tell me about your experiences!
Disclosure: Thank you to Dutch Wonderland for providing us tickets to attend your park in exchange for my review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.