A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Your Toddler to a Water Park

Updated: Jan. 25, 2024

Splash pools, fountains, water tables, and slides galore—there's a lot to do with your toddler at a water park. Read this first to make your trip a wet, giggly time for all.

1 / 13

Bring a change of clothes

Several, in fact. First, a dry swimsuit can make a world of difference when it comes to preventing a toddler tantrum. And while you know to pack swimsuits and cover-ups for yourself, but you may want to pack an extra set for everyone. Why? Between the wading pools, animal statues that spit out water, water shooting up from the ground, and raining down from overhead fixtures, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be wet from start to finish. Even if it’s warm out or you’re in a temperature-controlled indoor park, it gets chilly when you’re sitting around in damp clothes, especially when it’s lunchtime.
2 / 13

Pack towels

Even if your resort lists them as an amenity, bring your own. The resort’s towel may turn out to be more along the lines of the super-thin type they hand out at the gym, not the plush beach towel you were anticipating. (Speaking of, here’s how to keep towels feeling like new.) Alternatively, bring along your kids’ bathrobes if you have them—they’re a reliable way to dry off your child, keep them snuggly, and give them the comfort of a familiar item.

3 / 13

Leave the pool toys and life jacket at home…

Check your water park’s rules before hitting the road—at the Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, for example, pool toys are not allowed. You won’t miss them, trust. As for life jackets, the resort requires them for all children under 48-inches tall, and the lifeguards in the areas for small children are walking around with measuring sticks in case there’s any doubt. Not to worry: there are ample life jackets available in all sizes. If your child has his or her own, you’re welcome to bring it.

4 / 13

But bring the stroller

You wouldn’t dream of hitting the amusement park without a stroller, and many water parks, including the Kalahari, allow them poolside. Consider using a lightweight umbrella stroller both for convenience and the quick-drying fabric.

5 / 13

Don’t forget to protect your phone

Of course you’ll have your phone, even though you’ll need to keep your eye on the little ones. Just make sure you get a waterproof cover for your phone—otherwise, you’ll leave with nary an action shot.

6 / 13

Consider a cabana

If it’s in your budget, renting a cabana can prove to be well worth it. The cabanas at the Kalahari Resort offer sofas, a safe to store your valuables, a TV, and a mini fridge and are serviced by a designated cabana attendant, who can bring you food and refresh your stash of towels. Most importantly, the cabanas offer a bit of privacy and seclusion for quiet time if your kids start to get overwhelmed. The cabanas at the Kalahari Resort start at $249.

7 / 13

Set a meeting time

If you have more than one kid, it’s divide-and-conquer time: Mom gets pulled in this direction while dad gets pulled in the other. Set a meeting place and a rendezvous time, then just go with the flow.

8 / 13

Get ready to have fun

Kids of all ages love water, which is why smart resorts like the Kalahari Lodge offer a number of attractions for even the youngest visitor. Tito’s Watering and Coral Cove areas feature swings, water tables, animal sculptures to climb on, a mini lazy river that’s just for kids, and a number of small water slides. The Splashdown Safari area has even more slides that are taller and longer and kids are allowed to sit on mom or dad’s lap, so even an intrepid two year old can experience the thrill.

9 / 13

Take a float down the lazy river when you need a break

They’re called “lazy” for a reason. When you need to catch your breath for a few, head to the lazy river, grab an inner tube, sit your child on your lap and let your cares float away while your heart rate comes back down.

10 / 13

Food options abound

While you may not be allowed to bring in your own food, chances are there’s a wide range of food at all prices to choose from. At the Kalahari Resorts, you can stock your beach bag at its Marrakech Marketplace, which offers sandwiches, wraps, salads, fruit, chips, and all manner of treats. It’s outside the waterpark area, so make your pit stop before entering (Re-entry is allowed, but you’ll save yourself the energy of having to walk back to it.) There’s also a grab-and-go snack bar and table service cafés inside the park, along with a swim-up adults-only bar that you can look at longingly (unless you brought along the babysitter).

11 / 13

Pack your eye drops

Along with your usual stash of diapers, swim diapers, wipes and Band-Aids, you may want to bring along some soothing eye drops for yourself. All that chlorine is necessary to keep the water clean, but it can get to your eyes after awhile at an indoor park, even if it’s well ventilated.

12 / 13

Spend the night

If your schedule and budget allows for it, sleep over at the park and make a weekend out of it. At the Kalahari Resort, your passes are included in the cost of your room, so the hotel room practically pays for itself. It also makes it easier for you to get your kids out of the water when you can promise them they’ll go back tomorrow. It also gives you an opportunity to check out the spa or have dinner at Double Cut, the resort’s steakhouse. Though upscale with a gourmet menu, wine list, and snazzy fireplace, it’s also super-kid friendly, making it a good place to experiment with restaurant etiquette, even for rowdy tots.

13 / 13

It’s exhausting for you and the kids

After a day (or more) of splashing, swimming, floating, climbing, and walking combined with new sights and sounds, everyone will be ready to sleep for a long, long time. But that’s why you came, isn’t it?