I used to believe there was a certain age your children should be before taking them to any theme park. I waited until my son was four years old and my daughter was five years old to take them to their first one (Hint: Mickey ears). Boy, was I overwhelmed. Maybe I am being a little bit dramatic but that theme park gave me a lot of anxiety – too crowded and everything was overpriced. We spent most of our day in line and didn’t get to experience as many rides as I wished we could have. Fast lane was not so fast.
I was turned off toward all theme parks after that experience and did my best to avoid them. Now, I think it’s less about waiting until a certain age to bring kids to a theme park and more about which park you choose. My tiny humans are now eight and nine years old, and we decided to attempt California’s Great America in Santa Clara a few Saturdays ago. I couldn’t believe how much I really enjoyed it!
They had rides and specific areas for all age ranges. Entry and food prices were affordable. We rode every ride we wanted! Some of the rides we went on more than once. Our fast passes did exactly what they were meant to do – got us past the regular line and right to the front. The kids were happy and so was Mommy!
Here were our favorite areas:
Fairground Games. All the classics I used to see at our small town carnival and fair was in this area. You had your basketball hoops, your target shooting with water guns and your gigantic teddy bears as the prizes for game wins. Bring extra cash for this area because the games can be addicting for adults, as well. If you plan on playing until you win a prize, I suggest hitting this area towards the end of the day. Then you won’t have to carry around your prizes all day!
Snoopy Land. At first glance this area seemed fitting for children only between the ages of three to six years old. However, my older kids loved every ride in that area and so did I. It was mainly because the rides didn’t scare them; they were fun and relaxing. It was the opposite of the regular rides they went on and gave them the balance they needed throughout the day. We used this area to recover from the roller coasters. We did our share of thrilling rides in the morning, and we ventured into Snoopy Land to get a more calm ride experience.
Boomerang Bay. This is a great area for the younger kids. Of course, it’s a great area for all ranges, especially in hot weather. However, for the parents with children under age two, this is the perfect place for them to cool down and splish splash around while the older kids run around riding the big rides. Bathing suits required!
The one great thing I really loved about Great America is that they checked our bags but did not make us throw away any of our snacks and beverages we were bringing in with us. That was always a turnoff for me at other theme parks. If you are venturing to Great America this summer, make sure to bring
- Extra clothes and towels in preparation for the water rides and Boomerang Bay.
- Lots of sunscreen and a hat.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- An extra plastic bag, in case your stomach does not agree with the roller coaster ride.
- Get the fast-pass!
- A positive attitude. It’s fun being a kid again!
Great America had everything all in one place, rides fitting for every age and thrill level! Before we left the park, my tiny humans were already requesting we return again, so we definitely will!