What’s to Love: Another place it’s taken me forever to visit! I don’t know how many times I’ve passed Wild Waves on my way north to Seattle. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, especially if you have kids. The roller coasters and huge water slides are hard to miss, even speeding by on I-5. While it lacks the charm of Enchanted Forest, and the extreme cleanliness of Disney Parks, I was still impressed and look forward to our next family visit.
Our plan was to get there about 30 minutes before the park opens. Since it was a weekday, I thought it wouldn’t be too busy and beat any crowd that was planning on attending the same day. Although we were early, there was a LONG line to get in, even 30 minutes prior to opening! I was pretty shocked, but once open, the line moved surprisingly fast. We were in the park within 15 minutes of their official opening time. Printable Internet tickets were discounted and easy to use. Don’t bother trying to buy individual tickets for attractions – go with the park pass giving you access to everything, comparatively speaking, it’s pretty reasonably priced.
We quickly made our way to the very cool looking “Wild Thing” roller coaster and got on immediately. It does a complete upside down 360 with many twisting turns, and a pretty decent initial drop. Since I grew up going to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, I’m kind of a roller coaster snob. I would give the Wild Thing about a 5 out of 10. It definitely scared the crap out of my kids, but they did want to go for a second ride. Although the ride was short, the coaster gives two laps each time it runs, which makes it an even better deal.
We then quickly made our way to the Timberhawk – again, no wait! We were able to get in the back car of this classic wooden roller coaster. I actually preferred this coaster to the Wild Thing, because I’m not a big fan of going upside down. The wood coaster really roars too, which adds to the whole experience, and makes it seem like you’re going a lot faster than you actually are. The drop is bigger than the Wild Thing, and actually gives you the “stomach in your throat” experience, which makes me give it a 6 out of 10 on my roller coaster scale. My kids loved this ride so much! They probably rode it repeatedly five or six times without a break.
The water ride is definitely worth a spin. It’s not as cool as the one at Enchanted Forest, but you will get wet! Certainly, there are many more rides, but my kids were already desperate for some water activities. The park has so many awesome water slides. Unfortunately, we didn’t ride any of the big slides because the lines were too long. The “Dew Slides” looked great, and they are newer. People we talked to loved them.
Instead of the water slides, we focused our attention on the Konga Lazy River, Hooks Lagoon, Raging River Ride, and the incredible Wave Pool. All of these attractions were worth the wait, and they are all around the well designed “Activity Pool,” which includes some cool slides and cliff jumping.
Caveats: While in the Activity Pool, make sure you take note of a VERY LONG SWIM that must be done after cliff jumping or going down certain slides. I couldn’t believe the distance they were making kids swim. Granted, there are plenty of signs that say, “Strong Swimmers Only,” but still, it was a bit much. Plus, they don’t let you grab the safety lines if you want a rest. I saw one kid that couldn’t make the swim, and the lifeguard had to jump in and swim to help him. It was a bit scary. Make sure your kids understand the length of the swim and feel comfortable before giving it a go.
The food was pricey and not good. There are high-end prices without high-end food. At times, I felt like I was in a big parking lot with rides. The facilities seemed a bit dated and in need of upgrades here and there, but overall, it was pretty nice. The employees were friendly and helpful when we needed to find things.
Website: Wild Waves Theme Park
Distance from Portland: 150 miles or so. It took us about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Of course, it will depend greatly on traffic.
Recommended Ages: Great destination for the whole family. There are plenty of cool rides for kids 8 and younger. Teenagers will love the roller coasters and water slides. Also, the park is contained, so older kids and their friends can probably hang out on their own.
Parental Stress Factor: Medium. There is a lot of stuff to do within a relatively small area. However, small kids and water always make me a bit nervous no matter where I am.
Physical Difficulty: Of interest from their site…”Guests with Disabilities: Our goal is to accommodate every guest to the best of our abilities. Participation on some attractions may be restricted due to park and/or manufacturer requirements. These restrictions may include an individual’s height, weight, and physical condition. We strive to provide an entertaining experience with fair, equal, and safe treatment of all our guests. Please contact Guest Relations for additional information or assistance.
Family Fun Factor: High! There are so many ways to keep everyone entertained at this park. When one thing gets boring, it’s easy to move onto the next thing.
Pet Friendly: This is not a place to bring a pet.
Weather Considerations: Because there are water rides, you’ll want to come on a hot and sunny day. Although, if it were cloudy, the park might not be near as busy.
Insider Info: Head to the roller coasters right at the beginning of the day, or near the 5PM hour, which is when many people break for dinner, or leave. If there aren’t many people waiting in line, exit the coaster and just hang out. If there is room, they will let you back on without having to exit and walk around the the entryway! This is the way we rode time after time.
They didn’t let me ride with my nice camera with a strap over my neck. If you want pictures or video, you’ll have to take your cell phone out of your pocket, but I would wait until the car leaves the station. Check out their policies regarding cameras. It seems the enforcement of these policies was somewhat arbitrary depending on who was working rides.
Whether you have kids or not, I was very envious of the people who rented the Cabanas. On a hot day, these offer some respite in a park without a lot of shade, especially around most of the attractions. If you can afford it, or you can go in with another family or two, I highly recommend getting one of these for shade. The nice part is that they are right at the wave pool, and very close to the “Activity Pool.”
Family Tips: Make sure you review the Park’s policies. I found this very informative, and it answered many of my questions.
There are certainly many more rides, and many of the rides, are excellent for small children. To ride the roller coasters, you must be at least 48″ tall. Heights for various activities are listed on their website – make sure you take a look at this carefully.
They will check your bag when you enter the park. They didn’t ask me to open it or look inside – they just sort of felt around the outside. Basically, they don’t want any coolers entering the park. They want you to buy their food, which is pretty bad, in my opinion. We managed to bring in a small kid’s lunch box with a cold pack inside of it, which has some berries, watermelon, nuts, and seeds. It was just to snack on before eating lunch at the park, which I do regret.
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