Adventureland in Iowa is a quintessential summer destination for families. We planned a whole day at the park during a recent weekend in Des Moines. Before we left, I asked Oh My! Omaha readers on Facebook for their cool-off tips (see the post here). Those tips helped when we visited on a 95-degree day!
Disclosure: Our visit to Des Moines was hosted by Catch Des Moines. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Ways to stay cool at Adventureland
Start early – Get there when the park opens, since mornings are going to be the coolest part of the day. You get the added bonus of short lines for the popular rides. Many recommend arriving about half-hour before the park opens to get a good parking spot and get to the front of the line of your favorite ride.
See a magic show – This was, by far, the most useful tip from a reader. The theater is in Sheriff Sam’s Saloon, and the A/C is a hit of relief in the middle of the day. It doesn’t hurt that the kids find this show highly entertaining. Shows were held on the hour starting at noon, and they rotated shows.
Coolest bathroom – I’m using cool literally here. Head to the penny arcade for bathrooms with the A/C cranked on.
Browse the stores – Several stores had signs on the door to “Come in and cool off.” Take that as your cue to go in and browse for as long as it takes to lowery our body temperature. My kids were particularly fine with browsing the toy store.
Don’t sweat the old time photos – Two readers recommended doing the souvenir old time photo first thing in the morning. Can you imagine how hot it would be putting on one of those Victorian gowns at 3 p.m. on a July afternoon?
Swim up bar – Shanon K. pointed out that there’s a swim up bar for adults in the waterpark area. It’s called the Sand Bar. That sounds like one of the best ways to cool off in the summer. And by the way, they’ve thought of the kids, too – there’s the Pint Sized Pub with a kid-size stools to sit on in the water. They serve icees, smoothies, non-alcoholic cocktails and a variety of food.
Consider a cabana – Reader Sara U. had some great tips regarding cabanas at the Adventureland water park. First off, if you rent one, it comes with a safe to store supplies. The island cabana not only keeps you covered in the sun, but it also comes with towels, a waitress and a $25 food and beverage credit. “Well worth it as the food was very good and delivered right to you,” she said.
Ride the water rides – I’ll have to take everyone’s word for this one. We visited on a week day in early summer, so the water park was closed, and unfortunately, so were the few water rides inside Adventureland. I was really looking forward to being splashed on the Raging River, but it was undergoing some maintenance all day during our visit.
Know when to ride the water rides – Timing is everything with water rides, since everyone wants to ride them during the hottest part of the day. Raging River’s line can be longer than an hour. And tip for the family who gets soaked on the Raging River, there are family drivers for $5 at the end.
Bring water bottles – Most outside food and drink are not allowed, but we could bring in water bottles and refill them throughout the day. Look for water bottle stations in the park. We were able to add ice cubes to our bottles at the Oktoberfest tent (might help that the adults in our group also bought beer).
Find the shade – The park has a lot of trees making it very easy to find a shaded spot to sit. Lisa C. recommended heading toward The Dragon rollercoaster or The Outlaw for shady spots.
Park & waterpark in one day tip – Since you get two parks for the price of admission, many fit in both in one day. One reader, Sharice S., shared her family’s itinerary: “We usually enter the park and do the rides all along the left side (ferris wheel, swinging pirate ship, Raging River, Dragon, Saw Mill, etc.) of the park and usually reach the waterpark by mid-afternoon. Then we spend a couple hours swimming and cooling off, and then make our way back to the front on the other side of the park (Monster, Tornado, Storm Chaser). We usually eat at River City Food for lunch and smoothies from the pint size pub in the back of the water park in the late afternoon.”
If you go to Adventureland
Where: 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona, Iowa
Tip: Do some online investigating before you go and you can score tickets at a discount in advance. If you do show up without pre-purchased tickets, you may get a AAA or military discount if you qualify. I’ve also spotted discount coupons at Hy-Vee.
Related post: Get more Des Moines travel ideas on the post My Des Moines Bucket List.
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