As we pulled into the parking lot for Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pa., a cheerful voice rang out over the speakers reminding arriving families about some of the park’s policies, and ending with “Have a Dutch wonderful day!” It became our tag line for the trip.
We arrived right at opening, 10 a.m. on a weekday. The park wasn’t crowded at all, and we hardly waited in line for anything.
Unfortunately, outside food and drinks are not allowed, but I think we could have brought in some small snacks for the kids and not had any trouble. I’d also recommend bringing cups or water bottles to fill with water or juice for the kiddos once inside, or else pay a hefty price for souvenir cups. They do have a picnic area near the entrance for those leaving coolers in cars. There are plenty of places to eat inside, but typical for amusement parks, the food is very expensive. We ate lunch in the Mill Stream Eatery which had a great variety of food, was spacious and cool. There is also a sit-down, full-service restaurant called Merlin’s, which offers buffet-style eating and character appearances.
I was lucky enough to have the hubby, my dad and my 13-year old niece along for the trip — which was a big help. One of the nice things about Dutch Wonderland are the gem symbols that clearly mark height restrictions for each ride. This was great for our 3-year-old, James, who fell into the green “Emerald” (36″- 42″) height range. He could quickly look to see if there was a green “Emerald” at the entrance to each ride he wanted to go on, and if there wasn’t, he accepted it quite easily. A lot of rides are also “family rides” where small children can still ride with an adult. This is where having my niece with us really came in handy.
One great thing about the park was the fact that the toddler-appropriate rides were spaced throughout. Most parks keep all the little kid rides in one area but here, they’re interspersed. It’s not a huge park either, but there’s a sky ride, train ride, monorail and boat ride for helping you get around in a fun relaxed way. There are also plenty of activities other than rides. Cool shows include princesses and wizards, western country and high-dive acts into a pool. An amazing Prehistoric Path area has life-like dinosaurs and sand pits for dinosaur bone digging. My boys just stared at the dinosaurs with realistic movements, and I enjoyed the cool walk along the shaded path.
The park is super clean and well kept. There is an air-conditioned Mother’s Nursing Station near the front entrance and most of the bathrooms have stalls with a small kid-sized potties.
After spending the morning exploring the park and eating lunch, we took the kids on a couple more rides while my dad headed to the water park to check into the cabana he rented. They offer a couple different cabana options, but his included a mini fridge with waters and drinks, two lounge chairs, a table with chairs, and view of the Duke’s Lagoon water park. This was all under cover with a fan.
We spent the rest of the day in the water park, which was perfect for little kids! Mine spent most of the time going down the mini slides and jumping in the water that spouts out of the ground. James was brave enough to go down one of the tall tube slides with us, and he loved it because in his words, “I didn’t get any water in my eyes!” We celebrated with some Rita’s back at the cabana. Bring water shoes and flip flops though, as some of the water slides require them.
It was a long, extremely hot day, but we had a blast. As we dragged ourselves out to the van and heard the cheerful voice over the speakers, we all had to agree that it had in fact been, a Dutch wonderful day. Can’t wait to go back!
Check out what’s new at Dutch Wonderland this year along with new rides at other parks!
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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Luke.