Adventureland Amusement Park Tips

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For most people growing up in Iowa, Adventureland certainly has a nostalgic quality to it. I remember an awesome vacation when I was a little girl that involved Adventureland, a stay at the Adventureland Inn (with a poolside room AND pizza) and even a glow stick to wear after the park started turning dark. As a middle schooler I went with my class on a weekend and couldn’t believe the freedom we had to go on any ride we wanted without adult chaperones. And finally, my husband and I spent a Saturday there on a date before we were married and hadn’t developed motion sickness yet (does that come after 30? I never used to be that way!).

Now we are so happy to be able to take our son to Adventureland to create his own memories. My son had a blast last summer so we decided to make it an annual thing and go again this year. Here are a few things we picked up along the way:

Find discount tickets. You can discounted tickets at HyVee, Veridan Credit Union, Pioneer, the city of Des Moines and many other businesses. Be sure to check with your employer or ask your friends as price seems to vary on the discount (but chances are good you can get them less than the $40 at the gate).  Click here for more details on discounted tickets.

Go Early. The park opens at 10 a.m. It is good to get there right around when it opens as it  it got busier the longer the park was open. It will help you enjoy the cooler morning and hopefully you’ll find some shorter lines.

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Do the water park first. Head to the back of the park for the water park first. While you are in the back of the park, hop in line for the Raging River. For some reason, this is the longest line in the whole park and your chances of it being shorter are less in the morning. Plus if you are headed to the water park already, who cares if you get soaked? Believe me, you will get soaked!

Bring your entourage. My parents and sister were along for the trip with us. Adventureland is a small enough park to navigate on your own with your child but it was just fun to have my parents there to share in my son’s joy. Several rides you can go on as a family (such as the Raging River) and it is a riot to see everyone squeal and scream.

Check the height requirements. We got denied approval to ride the bumper cars even though my son had rode them last year. Apparently state law has changed so now some height requirements are different. It is good to check before you get in line so you don’t get booted off after waiting in line for a long time.

Bring a picnic, take a break. I always feel better if I can take a mid-day break to get off my feet and relax. You can bring a picnic and enjoy it in the shelter right outside the park gates. Leave it in your car though- no food allowed in the park.

Stay until dark. Some nights the park is open until 10 (check the websites for hours- it changes frequently) and it is fun to stay to see everything all lit up. It makes for an extra special spin on the carousel or ferris wheel!

Consider making it a weekend. If you are feeling up to a splurge, consider staying the night at the Adventureland Inn or the campground. My parents stayed overnight at the campground and my husband commented on how he felt like he was on vacation, even though we were still right there in our own city. You can purchase two day passes for a discount and do all your favorites again the next day!

What are you favorite memories from Adventureland? Do you have any tips I left off my list? Do you love taking your kids for a day of fun? We’d love to hear from you!

  • Katie Nyberg

    We are season pass holders and I am there often with my two sons. I’ve discovered two family bathrooms–sending them in the men’s alone still worries me a bit. One is in the main street arcade (always VERY clean) and the other is by the wave pool. Staying until the lights come on is definitely awesome! I also love spending the day their with just my hubby too. :)

    • Rose Kundel

      That is a great tip about the bathrooms! Thanks!

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