Monday, May 09, 2011

Our First Trip As Royalty

Even though it's essentially a kiddie park, I'm gotta say that I'm pretty excited that we got season passes to Dutch Wonderland this year! As a huge amusement park fan, I've always wanted to be a season pass holder to anywhere. Growing up we didn't live close enough to a park to make it worth while and later on in life when I worked at Hersheypark and could go whenever I want - I was too fat to ride anything. The nice thing about Dutch Wonderland is most of the attractions are designed for families to enjoy together and as as a stay-at-home dad an amusement park full of rides for my kids is a great way to kill many long summer days of daddy duty! So this past weekend, the boys and I headed up to Lancaster, PA (about an hour drive for us) and spent the day at the park. It was nice to have the more relaxed approach to visiting and not worrying about getting everything done in one day. We took our time around the park and I pretty much let the kids dictate where we went and what we did. They had a blast!

Since there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of blogging about Dutch Wonderland out there, I thought I'd do some trip reports when we make it out to the park. This was the second weekend of the season and there was a good turn out at the park, but certainly far from crowded. The weather was absolutely beautiful and I simply enjoyed being outside and feeling the gentle warmth of the sun.

One of the things that I really like about Dutch Wonderland is that they can take a simple ride and elevate it slightly by it's presentation. Off-Road Rally is a pretty simple "off the shelf" kiddie truck ride, with a train of trucks that travel around a slightly off-oval track. I've seen this ride at other operations simply dumped on a gravel lot or grass. I've always liked the nice way DW has framed this ride with lush landscaping. (Elias and Tanner are in the green car.)

The highlight of the park for most older kids is the Kingdom Coaster. Opened in 1992, this family coaster delivers quite a ride for a park known for it's no-thrills. The ride is pretty much a full sized wooden roller coaster minus the first drop. There are alot of twists and turns in this 90 second ride as well as a decent amount of air-time.

This was the first year Tanner worked up the nerve to ride it and he was an instant fan! That's Elias hand (with the watch) going no-handed down the second, slightly bigger drop.

One of two new rides this year is Huck Finn's Leapin' Frogs. The kids dismissed this at first as just another round-and-round ride but then we noticed it was actually a variation of a dune buggy ride they LOVE at the beach. While traveling around-and-around the frogs hop up and down. This is achieved by a wheel traveling along a track inside the rides center mechanism. The track lifts the cars up and then drops them which creates a bouncing sensation. The kids swore this frog version was a bit more souped up than the dune buggies and perhaps they were right as the frog cars looked a bit heavier than the beach cars. Either way, Leapin' Frogs will be a must ride for Elias and Tanner on future visits.

Whenever we go to a park for the day, we always seem to miss the shows because we're too busy trying to squeeze so much else into our day. I made it a point to finally see some of Dutch Wonderland's entertainment offerings. We hit up a 4:00 performance of A Dragon's Tale, one of the two shows performed in the Aqua Stadium. High-Dive shows used to be a staple in most amusement parks so it's nice that Dutch Wonderland still has one since most have been retired at this point. A group of five divers act out a silly tale about a princess and an evil knight, to a prerecorded soundtrack. As you can imagine, I saw alot of theme park entertainment when I was younger and I've always marveled at the bottom-of-the-barrel low brow, corny humor these shows maintained. I'm happy to say that the Dutch Wonderland show is about as corny as they come. It has some really funny moments mixed with bad puns, slapstick and current pop culture references. It's not many kiddie parks that you'll find a group of medieval knights dancing to Beyonce's Put a Ring On It. High-Diving is a feat that seems to impress young and old and the show is incredibly entertaining for everyone. I'm looking forward to seeing the park's other high-dive show.

Along the back end of the park runs the Mill Stream which is home to several species of water foul. The ducks at the park are just as big of an attraction as all the rides and fancy other stuff. This little family of ducks we saw brought ooooh's and ahhh's from many families.

Did I mention my kids loved the Kingdom Coaster. I was going to keep track of how many times we rode it this summer, but I already lost count. I think we rode it 12 times and then the kids went an additional two more times. Three or four times around at once is about all I can handle. At the end of the day, the guy running the ride was just letting everybody stay on and didn't even stop the train in the station. The cars just whizzed by the empty platform and we rode again and again. Pretty cool.

Elias and Tanner in the second to last seat, riding without Daddy. This was the last ride of the day and ending to a great first visit as Season Pass holders at Dutch Wonderland.


amy@flexibledreams said...

I VERY much want to take the kids to Dutch Wonderland this year. Let me know when you're planning your next trip and maybe we can tag along.

(PS. The captcha for this comment is "hoota")

Ed South said...

With our season passes, we'll be down for going almost whenever. Let me know when ya'll are free. Although, if the four of you are planning to go it would be nice to get Jen in on the action too!

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