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6 Helpful Hints for Taking Kids to Hurricane Harbor (Arlington, TX)

This summer has been a big change for our crew. It's the first time since my boys were born that I haven't been free to take them places, go swimming and plan lots of fun stuff for them. They attended a local summer program where they had a lot of fun and stayed super busy . . . and also dealt with a full-on bully, but that's a story for another time.

Since summer is quickly screeching to an end - the boys all start back to school Monday morning - we decided to take last weekend and go to Hurricane Harbor. Just before we loaded up, I quickly searched to see if I could find any information on families and the park. Alas, it was not available. So I thought I would create a post with that kind of information and if you have anything to add, please leave a comment and I'll add it this material.

1. Take advantage of special offers for entrance fees. 

We actually had FREE season passes to Hurricane Harbor because of the timeframe we purchased our Six Flags season passes. If you keep an eye out, they offer a special Gold pass usually in October that includes a Six Flags season pass, a parking pass, a Hurricane Harbor season pass and a parking pass - all for about $60 each if you buy 4 or more. You honestly can't beat the price. If you go twice you've paid for your pass - currently, individual adult tickets are $51 if you buy them online ahead of time . . . plus it's good for Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park of the current year and then all of the next year.

In addition to that, there are several dates over the course of the year where you can bring a friend FREE on each pass or pay a discounted rate ($14.99 or $19.99). We try to take advantage of these times each year and take friends with us to the park. We've honestly made some of our best memories this way.

2. Take a cooler with drinks, lunch, snack and more drinks. 
Last weekend the temperature was seriously around 107, so we picked one of the hottest days we could have gone. Overall we didn't struggle too much, but we found ourselves really thirsty. You can't carry anything into the park so we each took a drink and drank it while we walked through the oven of a parking lot and had everyone finish before we entered the park. If necessary, you can use your Six Flags plastic refillable cup and get discounted drinks inside Hurricane Harbor. (Or ask for FREE waters.)

Then at lunchtime we trekked back out to the car and really enjoyed our ICE COLD waters and light, healthy lunch. We just made sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips, applesauce and squeezable yogurt that we froze so it was just melting and perfect around 1 p.m. Plan for it to be ridiculously hot and sunny though. Most of the kids didn't seem to care, but the adults huddled under the hatch of our Honda Pilot. And a couple of the kids actually sat under the tailgate of the truck in the shade there on their towels.

When we left the park, the kids were hungry and thirsty again. We ate almost all of the leftover snacks - specifically more applesauce and yogurt with a few cookies thrown in. Since we were leaving we did allow the kids to have Cokes at this point, but not earlier when it could have contributed to dehydration instead of preventing it.

3. Ride the biggest rides FIRST or LAST.

We try to arrive just as the park is opening and we know we have to head for our favorite, "BIG" rides immediately. It's the shortest time you will wait and sometimes you can get in 3-4 rides before most of the people coming even make it into the park. Around the middle of the day, we spend more time in the lazy river and the wave pool, or even relaxing in one of the 1.5 ft. splash areas so the kids can roam a little more freely without fear of losing them. Then after about 5 p.m. people begin to trickle out of the park and you're able to ride more of the rides with less of a wait again. Depending on the age of your kids, you may not make it this long at a water park, so definitely ride your favorites very first thing.

4. Be prepared - sunscreen, water shoes, beach towels, goggles, etc. 

I know this sounds like a given but you would be shocked what you forget or realize you never even thought about once you arrive. I sunscreen the kids at the house as they are getting dressed to avoid standing in the blistering heat of the parking lot or trying to hang on to them once we're inside the park and they're raring to get in line for their favorite ride. (P.S. Don't forget yourself. I was the ONLY one who got burned last weekend because I covered everyone else and only managed to get "some" of my own parts!) As usual, you need to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours - and don't forget after lunch when everyone is dry and it will go back on the easiest.

It may be a water park but the ground is HOT in many places. Flip-flops are hard to keep on during the rides or while wading through shallow water, so water shoes really are the best option. If you don't have a choice you can wear flip-flops and carry them when necessary but it becomes a significant pain. You'll note a whole parking lot of flip-flops at the entrances to the lazy river, but you can't be shocked if your pair walks away from there either.

We use beach towels to and from the car and to protect the seats on the ride home. They also come in handy as mini picnic blankets and shade covers at times. Bring extras if you have them. Someone always seems to get one soaked or dirty and need a backup.

My boys love to swim under the water. No surprise all of the water is extremely chlorinated at Hurricane Harbor - it's all you can smell when you walk up - and I am sure the level of ahem, urine, in the water is off the charts. So my boys typically wear goggles if they're actually swimming and not just going down a slide.

Use a product like Swim Spray to help get this strong chlorine concentration out of skin and hair. Instructions say to get wet in the shower and then spray yourself. We spray while we are still wet from the pool water or even right before we get in the shower, and it has made a tremendous difference in how truly clean our children smell after their showers. It's great to feel like you can leave the pool behind once you get home and clean up.

5. Mark a central spot where everyone knows to meet up.

We took 4 adults, a 14 year old girl, a 10 year old girl, a 9 year old boy, 2 - 8 year old boys, a 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. So clearly this group wasn't able to split up into groups of two or three, but we did split into a couple of different groups at times. We put our towels and beach bags with sunscreen and goggles on a table where we all started out, so that if all else failed we knew where to meet back up. The only thing of value we left at the table was our keys which were in the bottom of our beach bag. We've never had an issue, but there are lockers that you can rent for the day for about $15.

6. Keep an eye on your kids . . . a CLOSE eye.

I know to some degree this goes without saying, but at the same time sometimes we get busy or overwhelmed or distracted. Hurricane Harbor is not the time or place that you can afford to do this. There are lifeguards all over, but when the areas are packed - specifically, the lazy river and the wave pool get so full that it is almost wall-to-wall people - at that point, it is extremely difficult for them to see everyone in the water clearly. On top of that, when there are so many people, you are constantly, legitimately bumping into others but that open up the possibility of people pretending to accidentally rub on one of your children. And if you have opposite gender children with you, the bathroom situation gets really tricky. We were just separated for a brief time from the adult men in the group when my 5 year old decided he desperately needed to go to the bathroom. I walked him over and waited for him outside while trying to conscientiously keep an eye on my other children. After several long minutes, he re-emerged from the bathroom in tears. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he didn't get to go to the bathroom. I asked him why and he said all of the bathrooms were taken and there wasn't one for him. {sigh} Thankfully, it was only a few more minutes before one of his older brothers was available and could take him to the bathroom. Just give it a little thought ahead of time and decide how you're going to deal with these kinds of things before you find yourselves caught up in the moment and having to scramble. It will really make life more enjoyable for both the adults and the children.

HAVE FUN! Your littles ones are growing by leaps and bounds every day. The activities you choose today are becoming the memories of the future. What will they remember about their childhood? How much fun they have? Or how frustrated you got? How silly you could be to make them laugh? Or how much you complained about the little things?

What's your best tip for taking your kids on outings like this?

I was provided with a FREE sample of Swim Spray so that I was able to test it.


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