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what to bring to the water park with kids

School’s out and water parks are IN!  Our water park obsession is in high gear this season, more so than ever before.  We have season passes to two popular ones here in Southern California and we’ve quickly become regulars.  Each trip I learn another tip, think of another idea to make the day go smoother.  Much of the errors in my trials has been in what I brought – brought too much, brought too little, didn’t bring the RIGHT stuff.


Here’s a big one.  I like to lather my kids up in the parking lot so it has time to soak in before we hit the water.  Then I bring an easy spray sunscreen for reapplications (every 2-3 hours). Here is one I like – Sun Bum SPF 50 Spray Sunscreen

waterproof phone case w/ lanyard

This is my new favorite thing I own, period.  With this case, even when I have all of my things in a locker, I still have my phone, which is great for communicating with my husband (since we separate often with one child due to their difference in heights) taking pictures waiting for and on rides, even videos underwater! Here is the one I have – SEAWAG Waterproof Case for Smartphone

Another bonus to this is it doubles as a pass/money holder.  You can slide cards and cash behind the phone without blocking the camera.


I’d recommend bringing a mix of payment options: cash and debit card.  Most of the bigger parks take plastic for everything including locker rental so I usually come home with my cash, but it can’t hurt to be prepared, especially when visiting an unfamiliar park.


Most all water parks allow closed bottles (usually only manufacture sealed), so fill up your bag with liquid!  Dehydration is always a big concern, so feel free to nag your kids to rehydrate all day long.


Many water parks do not offer towels at all.   Even if your park does, they are often threadbare and very small.  I like to bring my own and opt for Turkish towels that are lightweight but super absorbent. These Turkish towels are perfect for water parks!

a full belly

Most water parks don’t allow outside food and, depending on the park, the food inside may be overpriced and not very nutritious.  Eat before you get to the park so everyone is fueled for fun.  You can load up on pizza in the park later.

life jacket

This one depends on the water park and the height level of your child(ren).  My youngest is required to wear a life jacket in the tidal wave pool at all parks.  You can bring your own or choose to use one provided by the park. We always opt for the park’s jackets – one less thing to keep track of!

There are lots of other things that might make your bag like: lip balm, goggles, water shoes, hair ties, a few illegal snacks (shhh) but those are the essentials.  I like to keep my bag as small and as light as possible so I’m free to have fun and not be tied down.

As far as tips go, arrive early so you can snag lounge chairs in a great spot.  If you plan on renting a cabana during weekends, order those online to ensure they don’t sell out.  Wear your suit/flip flops into the park so you don’t have to change at the park. Don’t forget to get out of the sun when you can and HYDRATE!



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