Our family holiday in Florida just keeps getting better! Today we headed over to Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark in Orlando Florida for what we thought would be a bit of a splash around and maybe some chilling out beside the wave pool. Our moment of calm lasted perhaps 8 seconds. Danger Boy was so excited he was bouncing around like a little puppy. Truth be told, so was I! We’ve done our best to pluck out a few highlights as well as some tips to make sure you have a stress-free day. Enjoy!
1) Arrive early!
Getting ready for Aquatica is NOTHING like getting ready for school. Instead of begging and pleading for your kids to please please stop pretending to be Space Ninjas and get their clothes on, I can pretty much guarantee they will spring out of bed and be dressed and standing beside the hotel door within about 2 seconds flat. Capitalise on this exuberance and head to Aquatica just in time for the gates to open. You’ll be able to nab the perfect sun loungers or cabana, try the best waterslides without having to queue, and really enjoy the park before the sun starts to slow you down.
2) Try something new
I’m a great believer in pushing boundaries and trying new things, and as a parent I think it helps the kids develop courage, confidence and grit. We all made a little pact that we were going to say yes to something each day that we would normally have said no to.
For me, it was standing at the top of Aquatica’s newest and most thrilling waterslide, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, my heart pounding through my chest as I crossed my arms and legs and waited for the floor to drop out. Yes, drop out. O_O
Here’s how I got on…
For Mads, it was going down Walhalla Wave, spinning on an inflatable raft in a dark tunnel. She was terrified, but just take a look at this video… that is one seriously proud, happy and thoroughly excited little girl.
It’s worth saying that sometimes the kids just aren’t up to it… I don’t force them. Instead I hand over the camera and try it out myself, and more often than not they join me on the second time round. Here’s mummy and daddy trying out the lovely and really kid friendly waterslide HooRoo Run… I raised my game (obviously) by going down backwards….
3) Rent a Cabana
Normally this isn’t really my thing, but if you’re visiting Aquatica for the whole day with young children, having a cabana can make all the difference. You’ve got a meeting place in case one of the kids gets lost, shade whenever you need a bit of time out of the sun, plenty of room to bring colouring books or toys for chill-out time, you can store your camera in the safe while you’re on the family rides, and pop your snacks, sandwiches and water in the mini fridge.
4) Be sun safe
This sounds horribly dull, but you’re about to spend an entire day in the sun, and the last thing you want is for your children to fall ill with sunstroke or burn that gorgeous soft skin.
Plenty of local pharmacies stock water-resistant hypoallergenic SPF 70 sunscreen for kids – it’s designed by people who know that trying to put sunscreen on a 6 year old is like trying to dress an eel, so it comes as a spray mist. You can even spray it onto them while they are soaking wet, so you can sneak some sunscreen top-up moments in while they are in line for a waterslide.
To minimise the risk of sunstroke, take a little break in the shade every hour or so – we find little snacks and ice cold water work pretty well as lures.
5) Be silly
With work, school, homework, after-school clubs, playdates and all the endless ferrying around and cleaning up, you can sometimes get through a whole week and realise you didn’t actually chill out enough to be a bit silly with the kids and just PLAY. One of the things I loved so much about Aquatica was that there are so many family friendly attractions that make all that stress and “I must plan and schedule everything” vibe completely evaporate. One moment you’re “Doing Aquatica” and the next you’re a child again yourself. You’re doing handstands in the wave pool with your little girl, leaping over waves without a care in the world that those squidgy bits of your post-baby body keep jiggling even after you’ve stopped jumping. The kids pick up on it right away and absolutely love knowing you’re finally “in the room” with them… the connection works wonders.
My favourite of these…
Forget letting the kids win. You are basically 10 years old again and determined to be first to the bottom of the slide no matter the cost. You’ll find yourself carefully selecting exactly the right mat to slide on, comparing all of the slides to see which one looks fastest, analysing the racers ahead of you so that you can perfect your technique, and giving your 8 year old the Stink Eye while she giggles engagingly then gets her game face on and beats you to the bottom.
This splash park and play structure is a similar design to others you’ve seen around the world, complete with the giant bucket of water dumped on your head when you’re least expecting it. The big difference here is that the water is actually pretty warm so there is no reason to say no when your kids beckon to you with a little glint in their eye. You’ll start by hanging around with the water up to your ankles and just out of reach of the water spouts, but within a few minutes you’ll be soaked to the bone and racing around Walkabout Waters pretending to be a rabid ninja shark. It’s ace.
I cannot tell you how much we loved Roa’s Rapids!! On paper it doesn’t sound all that thrilling… it’s essentially a lazy river which winds around Aquatica, except that instead of floating around in a dinghy you float around in a life jacket. Quite quickly. Laughing. Swimming ultra-fast and pretending to be a superhero. Spiralling like a corkscrew. Acting out “Dooooooon’t leeeeeave meeeeeee” scenes from your favourite movies… It’s just a bit of fast-flowing water and a bit of bobbing about with the help of a life jacket, but believe me, it’s the best catalyst for pure silliness and it will be one of the highlights of your day.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. Over its more than 50 year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind collection of approximately 67,000 marine and terrestrial animals.
The Company’s theme parks in Florida include Discovery Cove, a tropical oasis in the heart of Orlando where you can swim with a dolphin; SeaWorld, the world’s most popular marine life park; Busch Gardens, full of wild animals and even wilder rides and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.