June 10, 2017

Going To Oceans Of Fun With Small Kids

Our plan: See if Oceans of Fun was as kid-friendly as Worlds of Fun.

Our analysis: Most definitely.

 

I admit to being reluctant taking two beginner swimmers to a water park the size of Oceans of Fun. But when Cedar Fair invited my family to visit for the first time, I decided it was time to see for myself if they can handle it.  (Boy, could they handle it!)

Tip for other nervous parents: There are free life jackets near most major pool areas.

If you haven’t been to the Kansas City area, please check out some of my guides, including family-fun in North Kansas City (where this water park is), a hotel recommendation near Oceans of Fun, a hotel recommendation downtown, and one of my family’s favorite KC attractions, Science City.

Kid-friendly Oceans of Fun

If you are bringing school aged or older children to Oceans of Fun, the many water slides will be a bigger attraction to you than the kiddie stuff. Our trip was decidedly less thrill and more splash. Here’s what my 5- and 7-year-old loved:

The biggest hits were Coconut Cove and Aruba Tuba.

Oceans of Fun

We could’ve spent our entire time at Coconut Cove and my two kids would’ve been happy. The pool had slides, fountains, floating animals and a ropes course.

Coconut Cove is the pool of every kid’s dreams. Mini slides, rope walk, animals to climb on, and no waves to knock you over.

Aruba Tuba was, hands down, my kids’ favorite slide in the park. You need to be 42 inches to ride. It was quick enough to feel thrilling, but no scares. Both kids did well going down on their own and in a two-person tube.

For preschoolers and the younger crowd, the best place to explore in the park was Crocodile Isle.

The area for really little kids, Captain Kidd’s pirate ship and Crocodile Isle (as well as Splash Island), were fun and a friendly way to ease into the water park experience. After a little while, though, my bigger kids were ready to move on.

Paradise Falls looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? There’s so much to see, slide down, and splash through, that the commotion was too much for my youngsters.

Surprisingly, my kids didn’t like Paradise Falls as much as I expected them to. It’s an awe-inspiring play area. I think the 1,000-gallon bucket of water dumping out every so often was a too much for them. I walked through it myself; it was a lot for the senses to take in.

We also had a fun time at the Surf City Wave Pool. Nab one of the free tubes to make playing in that pool extra fun. If your family is feeling brave, and everyone is tall enough (46 inches), Hurricane Falls is near the wave pool, and being a four-person tube ride, it’s a fun one to take the family on.

Caribbean Cooler may have been the most chill area in Oceans of Fun (if you don’t count the adults-onlly relaxing pool and swim-up bar…sigh).

Slides and other water attractions we skipped were many, partly because my kids had their favorite areas and simply wouldn’t leave…and if I’m honest, partly because I didn’t want to go down any really big slides. Hurricane Falls was enough for me.

Best slides for kids at Oceans of Fun

Aruba Tube, the two-person and single tube ride, was the biggest hit with my kids, who are 5 and 7. It had the perfect combo of just-enough speed and dips in the slide to please, but not scare, every thrill seeker in our group. 

Hurricane Falls was the lone thrill ride we did at Oceans of Fun. It’s a four-person tube flume, and you should expect a wait to get on it. My younger child enjoyed it, which surprised me. As for myself, it was a bit too much going backwards and fearing the worst. I’m a big baby, it turns out. 

My Oceans of Fun Tips

There are plenty of free life jackets to keep youngsters and weak swimmers feeling safe in the water.

– If the idea of your little ones in a big water park makes you nervous (it did for me), you can get a life jacket for them free-of-charge.

– Parents in the know arrive early, nab a spot in the shade before anything else, and leave a towel there before exploring.

– You can rent a locker all day, since they’re digital now. We felt comfortable leaving our bags nearby and going to play.

– My kids wore water shoes, but that wasn’t the norm. It made sense, to me at least, to wear them, since the cement does get hot and slides get slippery.

One Park. One Price.

My daughter reached a new height level this year that let her do some more thrilling rides and slides during our visit to Oceans of Fun and, later that day, Worlds of Fun.

Oceans of Fun and Worlds of Fun are one park now, which means you buy one ticket and can get into both. Super deal, if you ask me.

Can you do both in one day with small kids? The way I see it, you have two routes to go if you’re trying to fit it in all in one day. If your kids are past the nap time age, I recommend hitting Worlds of Fun first and then cooling off at the end of the day at Oceans of Fun.

My kids needed a break (OK, I needed one). Since we were staying at a cabin on site, we went to Oceans of Fun right when it opened, took a midday break in the cabin, and then in the evening, rode a few rides at Worlds of Fun. The water park was great early in the day: Short lines, plenty of room in the pools, loungers galore. After noon, it warmed up more and the crowds arrived. 

A pond at the Worlds of Fun Village. We stayed in one of these cabins and had a view of the rollercoaster called the Mamba. You can hear the screams from riders, FYI.

If you go

Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun

Where: 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

When: Open through Labor Day 2017; hours and days open vary so see calendar before going. You can time your visit to coincide with one of these fun events at Worlds of Fun.

Tickets: Buy online here

Cost: Buy online ahead of time for the best deal. You can get one-day passes for as low as $39.99. Two-day tickets are an even better deal: $59. Mom Saves Money shared more deals for 2017; check those out here.

Website

Oceans of Fun with small kids

Disclosure: This post is sponsored through a partnership with Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair, I was compensated for this post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. 

 

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October 5, 2016

6 Worlds Of Fun Halloween Tips For Families

I think I found a new fall tradition: Halloween at Worlds of Fun. It’s like summer vacation meets sweater weather. It’s fabulous.

pirate-at-worlds-of-fun

Visiting Worlds of Fun in the fall means Halloween activities for all ages, plus all of your favorite rides (except for those water ones…)!

My family was invited by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Blog Meets Brand to experience the Great Pumpkin Fest at Worlds of Fun for the first time ever this year. We’d had a blast at Worlds of Fun in the early summer, so I was curious to see how different it was in the fall.

Here’s how to make the most of it fall activities at Worlds of Fun, especially if you’re going to visit with young kids.

Beware: Daytime Halloween is completely different from nighttime Halloween at Worlds of Fun.

1. Time your visit right for your family

Hints of what happens at Worlds of Fun at night can be found throughout the park.

Hints of what happens at Worlds of Fun at night can be found throughout the park.

The park is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this month. Great Pumpkin Fest is on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go then if you’re looking for the fall festival feel. Things turn mighty creepy after dark on Friday and Saturday nights for Halloween Haunt. Go only if your kids are old enough (recommended age is 14+). Click here to get the park hours and be doubly sure you’re going at the right time.

And in case you were wondering, most rides are open and the lines are much shorter in October than they are in the summer. Holla!

2. Going on Saturday for Great Pumpkin Fest? Hit the big rides early

The lines were shorter for rides earlier in the day during The Great Pumpkin Fest. When grown-ups started to arrive for Haunt, the lines for the roller coasters grew.

The lines were shorter for rides earlier in the day during The Great Pumpkin Fest. When grown-ups started to arrive for Haunt, the lines for the roller coasters grew.

Saturday is the only day that has both Great Pumpkin Fest followed by Halloween Haunt. The older crowd that’s planning on going to Haunt start arriving before it actually starts (scares begin at 6  p.m.), but not so early in the day as you think. If your kid is tall enough for roller coasters and the other big rides at Worlds of Fun, ride them before about 2 or 3 p.m. to enjoy the shorter wait. There is a notable uptick in visitors later in the day and those grown ups are headed to the thrill rides.

 

3. Plan ahead and get your preschooler a FREE ticket

Small kids will like the easy hay bale maze.

Did you know you can get free complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for all of 2017 by registering your kiddo for a Pre-K pass? If you register now, your preschooler can get a free ticket to Great Pumpkin Fest!

Totally new this year, Worlds of Fun offers kids ages 3 to 5 a free Pre-K pass. The pass grants complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for the entire 2017 season. Register and process (AKA, redeem) a Pre-K pass during the 2016 season in order to get a free visit to the Great Pumpkin Fest this year! Get started here.

 

4. Let your kids wear costumes

You can meet Snoopy during The Great Pumpkin Fest at Worlds of Fun.

Costumes come in handy with all the photo opportunities and the trick or treating.

There’s a costume contest in Planet Snoopy at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for ages 11 and younger. Kids love dressing up regardless. But, more importantly, in this age of Instagramming everything, just think of the cute photos. Which leads me to the next tip.

 

5. Bring the camera

You'll find oversized photo opps inside and outside the park, like giant jack-o-lanterns.

You’ll find oversized photo opps inside and outside the park, like giant jack-o-lanterns.

Throughout the park, you’ll find great fall-themed photo opportunities. Be sure to tag Worlds of Fun, you just might end up on one of the TVs throughout the park. Use #WorldsOfFun and if it’s your first time going there, use #WOFFirstTimer.

And yeah, some of the photo opps will be creepier than others.

6. Pick your Halloween fun

The mini pumpkin patch at Planet Snoopy.

The Linus’ Great Pumpkin Patch at Planet Snoopy, the kids area at Worlds of Fun.

Worlds of Fun is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin so they’ve planned a lot of activities for the kiddos. My kids wanted to ride everything AND see everything, which just isn’t possible. So they picked what they really wanted to do: Meet Snoopy, pick a pumpkin out, and trick or treat. Throw in a handful of rides and it was a great afternoon.

Here’s the rundown for your family to pick your Halloween must-dos, you’ll find all of this in Planet Snoopy:

– Photo opps with Peanuts characters walking around

– “It’s the Great Pumpkin” Picture Show on the screen at the Peanuts Showplace

– Lucy’s Costume Contest

– Trick-or-Treating in Peanuts Playhouse

– Peppermint Patty’s Haybale Maze is cute for the littler kids

– Linus’ Great Pumpkin Patch is right near the entrance of Planet Snoopy and that’s where your kids can pick out their free pumpkin

– Sally’s Creepy Crafts

– Spooky Tales With Snoopy

 

If you go

Worlds of Fun in October

When: Great Pumpkin Fest and Halloween Haunt are going on now through Oct. 29 (Fridays, from 6 p.m. to midnight, and Saturdays, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.). Plan ahead next year, Halloween festivities begin in mid-September.

Where: Worlds of Fun, 4545 Worlds of Fun Avenue, Kansas City, Mo.

Cost: Park tickets are as low as $36.99. Tickets cover admission to all Great Pumpkin Fest starts activities and if you wanted to, you can stay for Halloween Haunt. Halloween Haunt-only tickets starts at $35.99. Parking starts at $15.

Worlds of Fun Website

Make a trip of it!

My family has had a long love affair with Kansas City. For ideas for other fun things to do with kids in Kansas City, start here! If you can’t make it to Kansas City this fall, consider winter because, seriously, it’s the best time to visit! Here are 15+ things to do in Kansas City at Christmas time, and here’s a KC weekend winter itinerary.

Need a hotel? Check out this great Courtyard we stayed at with the kids. A little further from Worlds of Fun, but closer to some fantastic attractions is the Sheraton the my kids still talk about (that rooftop pool…).

May 2, 2016

Where To Stay If You’re Going To Worlds Of Fun

For my family’s recent Worlds of Fun overnight getaway, we needed a place to stay overnight near the park.

It also needed to be kid-friendly.

What we found was Kansas City hotel Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff, and in every aspect, it suited our needs and then some. Our stay was hosted by Visit KC.

In a city known for its fountains, Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff can brag about the one near it.

In a city known for its fountains, Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff can brag about the one near it.

The rooms

We were in a room with two queen beds with a south-facing window. You’ll want that side of the building too for a view of downtown KC and the courtyard.

Check out the view from our room at the Courtyard!

Check out the view from our room at the Courtyard!

You can go for more spacious accommodations in one of the suites: Executive suite (one bedroom with king bed and a sofa bed), and two different types of two-room suites (one with king bed, sofa bed, plus whirlpool and balcony with city view; the other with two queens, a sofa bed and a whirlpool).

Rooms have everything you’d expect at a hotel – coffee pot, large shower, comfy beds, huge TV – plus a small fridge, good for leftover barbecue. Which we had a lot of…it is Kansas City we’re talking about here.

Hotel Amenities

The pool, as always, was my children’s favorite feature. It’s only 5 feet deep, which is great for my little ones.

The pool at the Courtyard is only 5 feet deep, which is fine by me since my children aren't strong swimmers yet.

The pool at the Courtyard is only 5 feet deep, which is fine by me since my children aren’t strong swimmers yet.

For me, the whirlpool was the best part of the fitness area, especially after a full day walking around Worlds of Fun.

Windows face south and west, so if you time it right, you’ll get a view of sunset from the whirlpool.

Sunset view from the hotel's small whirlpool. I'll take it after a full day of walking around Worlds of Fun.

Sunset view from the hotel’s small whirlpool. I’ll take it after a full day of walking around Worlds of Fun.

There’s also a fitness room.

One unexpected feature were the balconies off the pool area and the Bistro. By the pool, there were loungers to unwind on.

The back patio of the Courtyard is divided by wall, separating dining tables and a fire pit from the lounge chairs by the pool entrance.

The back patio of the Courtyard is divided by wall, separating dining tables and a fire pit from the lounge chairs by the pool entrance.

Off the Bistro (the hotel’s bar/restaurant), there were tons of chairs, tables, and my favorite, a fire pit.

If you’re traveling kid-free and staying there, picture yourself out there with a drink in your hand as the sun set over the skyline of KC. I lived vicariously through the adults I watched below our window. Not for long, mind you, because I didn’t want to be a creeper.

Anyway.

Location

The hotel has a good location for those looking to spend time at both Worlds of Fun and heading south into downtown Kansas City or one of the other cool areas like the Crossroads.

It’s also near the airport, and looked like a hub for airline travelers, given the departure sign in the lobby.

There isn’t a whole lot within walking distance of the hotel except for Briarcliff Village, which is a shopping and dining center under development. If you’re a walker or runner, there is a nearby trail that passes a manmade waterfall and a pretty fountain.

Further down the road, less than a mile, is a grocery store.

Some of the nearby attractions include:

Sprint Center – 5 miles

Kansas City Power and Light District – 6 miles

Worlds of Fun – 8 miles

Shoal Creek Living History Museum at Hodge Park (FREE admission) – 12 miles

 

Dining at Courtyard

The hotel has a the Bistro, which I saw used by guests especially for breakfast. They serve Starbucks coffee there.

However, and this might be appealing after a long day at a theme park, they also sell beer and wine in addition to entrees.

That’s where the outdoor patio comes in handy, amiright?

After a long day of exploring Kansas City, who wouldn't want to settle into a big chair by the fire pit with a drink?

After a long day of exploring Kansas City, who’d like to settle into a big chair by the fire pit with a drink?

Near the front desk, you can also purchase snack items, some frozen dinners and a variety of beer and wine to take up to your room, for those not feeling as social as the Bistro.

The Courtyard's lobby shop sold snacks, frozen dinners and beverages.

The Courtyard’s lobby shop sold snacks, frozen dinners and beverages.

Nearby restaurants

The immediate area around the hotel is not a hot spot of activity, so you’ll only find a handful of nearby options, including Trezo Mare (seafood), Piropos Restaurant (Brazilian) and Philly Time (sandwiches), about a half-mile away.

We knew we didn’t want to take the kids to a sit-down restaurant after a day at Worlds of Fun, so we ordered takeout. We almost got delivery – and there are several that will deliver; just ask the front desk for menus.

If you want a classic KC dinner, two recommended nearby options were fried chicken from Stroud’s Oak Ridge Manor or barbecue from Smokehouse BBQ. Barbecue won out. Both restaurants are fairly close to the hotel – Stroud’s is about 6 miles and Smokehouse is even closer at 4 miles.

About two miles away is a fantastic breakfast spot, Corner Café.

The Corner Cafe near the Courtyard by Marriott Kansas City was the ultimate comfort food spot for breakfast.

The Corner Cafe near the Courtyard by Marriott Kansas City was a pleasant comfort food spot for breakfast.

It’s your standard diner fare, but it has a following and for good reason: The food is good, the service is speedy and they serve tasty cinnamon the size of a young child’s head.

Which is an unappealing description of a pastry – I’m sorry – but I will say you won’t be disappointing ordering it, just be sure to share.

If you go

Courtyard by Marriott Kansas City at Briarcliff

Where: 4000 North Mulberry Drive, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

Cost: Most one-night stays will be below $150, depending on the season you visit.

April 25, 2016

6 Truths Parents Learn At Worlds Of Fun

I grew up with Worlds of Fun being a part of life. Every summer we’d go, our family of six piled into the family truckster.

We’d see the sky-high tracks of roller coasters miles away. And it never failed, every year, as the park came into view, the volume of our voices instantly increased and grew more animated.

I never forgot how exciting it was to get the first glimpse of Worlds of Fun each summer. I relived it recently watching my two children experience it for the first time. Read about the trip here.

I was invited by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Blog Meets Brand to visit the park with my family, and while I was compensated for writing about it, I can honestly tell you I have long wanted to visit. What I’m writing is my own thoughts and opinions about Worlds of Fun. 

Worlds of Fun

6 Truths About Worlds of Fun With Kids

1. Your kids are going to want to be at Planet Snoopy more than they will want to be in line for the Timberwolf. And now that you’re older, you’re relieved.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: We can’t handle coasters like we used to. Oh, I still try to go on them, but my mind and body don’t cooperate. I worry. My stomach churns. I yearn for tamer fun. 16-year-old Kim shakes her head at me.

But let’s talk about Planet Snoopy. Have you been?

There’s an entire area dedicated to the 42-inch and shorter crowd and it’s a hit.

Mooch and the face of Planet Snoopy.

Mooch and the face of Planet Snoopy.

We went there first thing in the morning, and for the rest of the day, my 4-year-old kept suggesting we go back. She’s too short for many tempting Worlds of Fun rides, but at Planet Snoopy, she was queen.

There are 21 attractions in the area, including five news rides in 2016.

It's not your typical kiddie ride, now is it?

Here’s a fun new ride for the kiddos: Linus’ Launcher. It’s not your typical kiddie ride, now is it?

New rides like Woodstock’s Gliders and Linus’ Launcher are a level 3, giving littles a chance to experience a daring thrill I don’t typically associate with kids rides.

Woodstock’s Gliders was a whole new level of kids ride with my daughter controlling our flight. Eep!

Mooch made sure to ride every ride at Planet Snoopy, especially all the new ones (she follows assignments to a 't.').

Mooch made sure to ride every ride at Planet Snoopy, especially all the new ones like Snoopy’s Space Buggies.

The other three new rides are Beagle Brigade Airfield, Snoopy’s Space Buggies and Snoopy’s Junction.

Snoopy's Juction is a kid-sized train ride, which ended up being my preschooler's favorite ride.

Snoopy’s Junction is a kid-sized train ride, which ended up being my preschooler’s favorite ride.

My preschooler critic ranked Snoopy’s Junction as the best.

 

2. Water rides aren’t so ha-ha funny anymore.

Kids love getting soaked. Remember being that way? Now, you’re not laughing.

I was dying to go back on the Fury of the Nile after a two-decade hiatus. So me and my 6-year-old made way to the water ride. The line moved way faster than I remembered! Woot, right?

Little Farley waving as we board our raft on Fury of the Nile.

Farley waving as we board our raft on Fury of the Nile.

We got on the raft and before I know it, water cannons nailed me. They aimed at me. And then wave after wave hit. Was it a cruel trick being played on the old lady in the boat?

Final straw was our raft getting stuck out on the Nile for hours minutes. We drew a crowd. They clapped when we finally were freed. Seriously.

We returned to the scene...the spot where our raft was stuck.

We returned to the scene…the spot in the Fury of the Nile where our raft was stuck.

And soaking mama had to walk throughout the park because she had the brilliant idea to make Fury of the Nile her third ride of the day. My son dealt with the soaked clothes a little better.

He was game to go on the Viking Voyage after that.

I offered to take pictures of the trio instead.

They barely got wet.

 

3. You’ll be a good sport and ride a lot of rides with your children that are just not made to hold your body. 

Worlds of Fun has several rides for the whole family to enjoy, like the Viking Voyage and Sea Dragon (I shared my favorite video of the family on the Sea Dragon here).

Mr. Wonderful and the kids fit comfortably in the Viking Voyager ride.

Mr. Wonderful and the kids fit comfortably in the Viking Voyager ride.

Then, there are the rides that are made for children. And your children are going to want you go ride them. All of them.

It’s a passage in parenthood that you squeeze your body into them.

Dad of the Year. Don't know his name, but I'm amazed he fit into that jeep.

Dad of the Year.

If you get to pick, I recommend a ride like Woodstock’s Gliders to at least make the cramming worth it. I had as much fun on the ride as my daughter.

 

4. Just let your kid play the games already and win a stuffed animal.

Mooch not-so-subtly lingered at every midway game we passed.

Mooch not-so-subtly lingered at every midway game we passed.

The first thing Mooch asked when we entered the park was “Can I get that?” We were barely passed the photographers at the entrance when she spotted the “Guess Your Weight” guy. So, I put her off saying we didn’t want to carry a big ol’ bear all day.

Five minutes later, she asked for another stuffed animal.

Repeat.

And repeat.

And why didn’t we just start playing try-your-luck game right away? Look how happy she is now?

She's very happy with the rainbow thing-y Mr. Wonderful won her.

She’s very happy with the rainbow thing-y Mr. Wonderful won her.

Just get the stuffed animal already.

You know it’s going to happen.

 

5. That Fast Lane Pass is the boss.

Life is short, and I’ve decided that waiting in line is not how I want to spend my vacation.

As I waited for the Spinning Dragons line to creep forward, I watched those with Fast Lane tickets enter using their own special entrance.

I grew increasingly jealous the more we waited. Why didn’t I get Farley and me into the Fast Lane?

How much is your time worth? Or to put it into parent speak: How much is it worth not having to stand in line with your children for very long?

If you’re visiting the park for just one day, it might just be worth the splurge to skip the lines with a Fast Lane ticket so you can ride more rides.

 

6. You’re going to want to make a season of it. Or at least, your kids will convince you to.

Is this sight calling you back?

Is this place calling you back?

Worlds of Fun knows its core audience. They visit more than once a summer. If you’re going to be visiting more than three times, you can save some serious dough by getting a season pass. The base season package includes admission to Oceans of Fun, in addition to unlimited admission to Worlds of Fun. Comparing the packages, the Gold one looks the best to me – among the perks is free parking and admission to Dinosaurs Alive.