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Is Dorney Park the Best Theme Park for Young Families in NYC?

Wildwater Kingdom Dorney Park
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Since our son, Oliver turned 3 years old, summertime has not felt complete without a trip to Dorney Park. Usually we combine this with a trip to the Crayola Experience since they are only a 20 min drive apart. This year was no different and Oliver had both destinations on his Summer List and so off we went!

Planet Snoopy Dorney Park

We arrived on a Saturday morning and despite Google’s GPS leading us to the bus parking lot, after being redirected, we were ready to start the day. One piece of advice that is a must for any Dorney visitor is to purchase tickets online. As we thought, it was crowded but luckily we did purchase our parking ticket in advance online and so saved some time and a few dollars as well. (Highly recommended to purchase parking and a refillable drink bottle online to save a few bucks!)

Snoopy at Dorney Park

One of the best things about Dorney Park is of course, that it is 2 parks in one! Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom.

The non-water park side of Dorney also has a distinct area for rides for smaller kids called Planet Snoopy. On the day that we went, the “feels like” temperature in Allentown, PA was close to 100 degrees. It was great to be able to pop over to the water park after the first few obligatory rides in Planet Snoopy. We convinced Oliver that it was just too hot and we’d come back to to Planet Snoopy when it got a bit cooler, later in the afternoon.

There is a changing area at the Wildwater Kingdom entrance, across from the Wildwater Cove and although on the ladies side, the lines can be a bit long, it does go fairly quickly. There are also a few changing stalls in the bathroom as well. The bathroom floors are slippery so do be careful!

There is a locker area across from the changing rooms but we didn’t need one as we rented a double stroller upon entering the park ($18 + a $5 deposit that is refunded on return). This is great for transporting children around the park. Even with only 1 child, a double stroller is highly recommended over a single and is awesome to carry all your swimwear, heavy towels and sunscreen.

Wildwater Dorney Park

After changing into our swimwear, we went over to our old standbys, starting with the toddler and preschooler friendly Splash Landing, then making our way over to Kids Cove and Lollipop Lagoon, all preschooler friendly with shallow water. It is a bit of a maze to get there, you have to pass through Kids Cove to get to Lollipop Lagoon if you are coming from the main water park entrance/Splash Landing.

Next was the very wet and fun Island Water Works which is a 3 story water play area. There is a giant bucket towards the back that tips water with a big splash and other spray guns and dumping mechanisms to soak the people below and around you, really welcome water play on a hot summer day. We had a blast spraying each other and also engaging in a bit of friendly splashing with the other families there.

Water Works Wildwater KIngdom Dorney Park

This year was Oliver’s first time on the Wildwater River, a slightly more adventurous version of a lazy river, and he loved it!

Funnel cake at Dorney Park

The funnel cake at Dorney Park is a must have treat after all the walking, riding and splashing…

When we were done with the water side, we were hungry and needed to eat! Although there is food and various treats on the water park side with outdoor seating, we got changed and went to Coaster’s Drive-In, which is indoors and air-conditioned.  The lines are long and it can be a wait for a table but the air conditioning makes it worth it! In Dorney Park, food can be on the pricey side as expected: a meal of 2 a la carte burgers and chicken tenders with a shared order of cheese fries set us back about $40 although free refills all day of the Dorney soda cup was helpful on the wallet.

Peanuts 500 Dorney Park

Oliver’s favorite ride by far – The mighty Peanuts 500!

The rest of the day was devoted to Planet Snoopy where Oliver got his fill of his favorite ride, Peanuts 500.  Sadly, on that day, Sally’s Swing was out of commission but as the lines were not long on any of the other rides, he was able to ride each one several times each.  There were just 2 or 3 rides that were a bit too adventurous for him such as the mini rollercoaster, perhaps next year he will be able to ride.

We did take a quick dinner break at an AYCE Asian buffet called Gourmet Bar & Grill just behind the park, the value is awesome for the price of the food and you are allowed to leave and enter the park once on the original parking ticket. Your hand is also stamped for reentry to the park.

It was a great day and we were exhausted by the time we finally left the park, a little after sunset.  Just 2 hours away from NYC, Dorney Park is really a great amusement park to visit in the summer.

Some tips: remember to book your tickets online, it is definitely cheaper than paying at the gate. The parking ticket and refillable bottle is also cheaper online. The stroller is also a good choice, especially if you either do not want to bring your own (taking up valuable trunk space!) Or if like us, your child is a little older but not quite able to walk the long distances all day on his own.

Did you go to Dorney Park this summer? Do you have questions before you go? 

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Full Disclosure: We received complimentary/discounted tickets in exchange for our honest, unbiased blog posting.

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