On a recent family vacation to Lancaster, PA, we purchased a set of tickets, and one of the places we got tickets to was Dutch Wonderland - a kids park and play land with younger kids in mind (up to age 12). We thought our 3 year old would have fun here, and felt this a good option as opposed to larger parks with larger rides, lines and kids.
The parking lot was full but there is a lot of parking in the area next to the park - sort of like a huge mall lot area. Parking is free, and everyone enters through a giant princess looking castle, which goes over a small moat. Inside the castle is the gift shop, but there is a nice clear walkway through to the entrance itself. You can shop at the gift shop without buying admission tickets. We showed our tickets and got right in. Immediately in front of us was a train ride - the main attraction for our 3 year old train fanatic. The train ride loops through the entire park and so was a fantastic way for us to get a good, seated view of the whole park and major attractions.
There were enough attractions and rides to keep our child busy all day, and we could see rides that would be more than appropriate if he were younger or older too. We loved that Dutch Wonderland really seemed geared toward toddler to preteen kids - so no long lines, no teenagers or adults riding - really just a kid centered event. We were there for 4 hours and didn't even come close to going on everything. Since Colin is 3 and the experience of rides is newer to him, there are many things he just watched but didn't want to go on.
We went on a boat ride. I thought this was kind of lame and Colin was bored. It looks like a motor boat that many people can sit in, but underneath it's on a metal track (so the workers just push a button and off we go). We went around the area looking at "landmarks" (the Statue of Liberty, Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc). Our boat was so slow that the boat after us caught up and started pushing us! Thankfully we enjoyed the other rides. Colin really enjoyed the Giant Slide - him and Daddy grabbed a potato sack and went up and down many times together. Colin's favorite ride was the Log Flume - complete with 1 small "hill", bigger "hill" and a misting tunnel. You do get a little wet. There were about 32 rides there, with about 7 of them being for younger children ages 2 and under.
There was a new attraction there - called Duke's Lagoon. Picture a giant water features with trees and umbrella squirting and filtering water, animals to climb on, things to run through - really it looked quite fun. Since we were not aware that there was a water area we were not dressed at all to play in this.
We did get to see one show - the Divers. They present only at certain times and we got to the park just at the right time. Seating is on these bleachers around a deep round pool with diving boards at different levels. The divers mixed comedy and splashes with their dives, while still showing many of their feats. We were quite impressed.
We did not eat there, but there were plenty of options - from snack foods to drinks to pizza. All of the restrooms we used were clean and easy to find - the girls all had this cute, pink princess theme to them.
There are a variety of prices to enter this park, though our tickets were part of the "wonder Rail Pass" so we could participate in all of the train rides nearby also. Regular prices and times of year are:
May 10 - October 5, 2003
Regular Admission (ages 7-59) $25.95
Child Admission (ages 3-6) $20.95
Senior Admission (ages 60+) $18.95
Children (ages 2 and under) FREE
We plan to visit the area again next summer and are making Dutch Wonderland one of the highlights of the trip! I would highly recommend taking your young children there - how refreshing to find a park tailor made for the younger children!
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