Karyn ColeKaryn Cole Karyn Cole is the lucky mom of 2-year-old girl/boy twins, Mia and Miles. After teaching elementary school for over 15 years, she now spends her days trying to enrich her class of two and organizing the chaos that is her household. After bedtime, she enjoys baking, crafting, and watching bad reality TV.

Sticking close to home this summer? We’ve got you covered with our favorite picks in our local areas. These tips translate if you’re traveling from far away, too! Check out the rest of our Staycation Summer series. 

Last summer, when our twins had just turned two, many moms I know began to ask when we were taking them to Aquatica, Sea World’s water park. Honestly, even the idea of trying to keep track of my two toddlers in any body of water larger than a swimming pool immediately caused my palms to sweat. There was no way I was going to consider a day at the water park “family fun.” But when we purchased annual Sea World passes this year, our tickets included admission to Aquatica. So a year later, with Mia and Miles one year older and a bit wiser, we decided to give it a try. I am really glad we did, because our day at the water park was a highlight for all of us!

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of pictures accompanying this post. But it was definitely an “all hands on deck” kind of a day, so I tucked my camera away a safe distance from the water’s edge. Aquatica has a wonderful website where you can explore all they have to offer before deciding if it would be a good fit for your family. And my experience really only pertains to the small section of the park that was suitable for young children. We did not ride any of the larger slides or try the wave pool. We chose a warm Sunday in late April, after the Spring Break crowds left yet before the summer masses descended upon Central Florida. Still, when we arrived around 11 a.m. it was busy.   The attendant directed us to overflow parking. This turned out to be a nice bonus, because overflow parking (at least on this day) was in an unused part of the “preferred parking” section. The walk to the front entrance was an easy one, even for those with very short legs.

Once inside the park we headed straight for the children’s area, Kata’s Kookabura Cove. We found a couple of empty chairs to set up as our home base, slathered on the sunscreen, and suited up. Aquatica guidelines strongly suggest that children shorter than 48 inches wear a life jacket at all times. They have a large supply of life jackets available that you can wear (free of charge) or you can bring your own U.S. Coastguard certified device. We brought our kids’ “puddle jumpers” from home since we knew Mia and Miles were comfortable wearing them.

Kata’s Kookabura Cove is a shallow play area, complete with waterspouts, areas to spray and dump water, and several beginner slides. The variety of things available for little ones impressed me. My two little fishies immediately zeroed in on the tube slides. Children rode down these water slides in the front of a two-seater tube with an adult riding behind them. It was a great way to start! So great, in fact, that Mia only wanted to ride the tube slide for the rest of the day. We both loved the ride, and having an adult along made it safer for little ones. The way the riders shared the limited number of tubes was the only downside. There was no system, so some people kept their tube and rode over and over. I felt like the right thing to do was hand the tube off to another child waiting for a turn. But every time I did, we had a hard time getting another tube ourselves.

Miles eventually moved on to the body slide, where he could slide independently while my husband waited at the bottom. The lifeguard at the top of this set of slides earned his money. His line was full of antsy preschoolers not good at taking turns or following safety instructions!

We took a short lunch break and then convinced M& M to try the Roa’s Rapids. Picture a lazy river on speed and you have a pretty accurate vision of this ride. Uncertain, I kept a tight grip on Mia for the first go round, but the kids loved it! I kind of ran in place through the rapids holding Mia’s hand while the white waters swept her along. There are life jackets on offer for adults at this attraction, and I would probably pick one up next time.

We ended the day with a special treat – the signature Shamu ice cream bar. Mia and Miles were in heaven! Turns out my mama tribe was right. Aquatica was a perfect day of family fun.

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Category: Family Free Time

Tags: Aquatica