Four Tips For Planning a Trip to Dutch Wonderland With Special Needs
As a special needs mom, I can honestly say that I always get anxiety when we go out with our son. Any trip whether we’re just heading to the supermarket, a restaurant, the park, and yes even our family vacation. Once our son was diagnosed with Autism, I knew life would have to change for us. One of the first things I did was start to limit our family travel. I was afraid for us to go anywhere and it was unfair to the rest of our children. A chance find on Instagram lead to a travel blog that encourages families like ours to travel.
Since finding that blog I’ve shared about our family travels online and on my blog, hoping it would help just one family change their mind about traveling when they have a child with Special Needs. This summer we didn’t travel much because we brought a house, but we planned a mini vacation to Lancaster before school started and it included a trip to one of the kids favorite amusement parks – Dutch Wonderland.
What I love the most about Dutch Wonderland is the size, it’s just the right size for our special boy. He never feels overwhelmed when we visit, so it’s perfect. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your kids and Dutch Wonderland is on your list, check out there four tips that I found to work great for our family.
Know When to Go
Like any amusement park, it’s best to know when is a good day to visit. The smaller the crowds that better it is for us. We always pick a weekday to visit the park. Even in the summer months, it’s less busy during the week than it is on the weekends. Visiting towards the end of August gives an added bonus of children in the state of Pennsylvania are already back to school, while we in Maryland are still out. This guarantees shorter lines and wait times for us.
If visiting on the weekend is a must, check the Dutch Wonderland website for park hours. Choose a time window around opening or closing. Crowds tend to be heaviest around the middle of the day.
Know Where They Measure Up
We measure our kids on each visit outside the park or inside right after the entrance. Knowing your where your child measures up can help with planning a more productive trip. Save time and prevent meltdowns by knowing what rides they can safely ride with or without you before visiting the park. A quick visit to the Rides & Attractions page on the Dutch Wonderland website will help you know learn about all their rides and what rides your child can ride.
If your child has a favorite make sure to add it to your list early in the trip, just in case you end up having to leave early. Our son loves the train, and it’s perfect for us to jump on as soon as we enter the park. The wait time is usually just a few minutes and it’s a great way to get him settled and ready for the day.
Know What & Where You Plan to Eat
I can’t stress enough the importance of visiting the Dutch Wonderland website and checking out their dining specials. We have learned the hard way it’s better to pre-plan and make the purchases before visiting the park. Even if we’re only saving $2 per meal, when you multiply that times six that’s $12, if we only eat once when in the park.
We always get the souvenir cup when visiting parks since most times refills are about a dollar as opposed to spending upwards of $15 for drinks when we are thirsty. Dutch Wonderland offers special pricing on cups when you purchase more. The first cup costs $9.99, for two cups it’s $8.99 each, and for three or more cups it’s $7.99 each.
You can pre-purchase a meal deal voucher on their website before visiting the park for $16.99. Includes a 2018 souvenir cup and your choice of one meal at Millstream Eatery or Nathan’s Famous. The meal deal includes:
Your choice of one (1) of the following Millstream Eatery items:
•Two Slices of Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza •Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad •Chicken Tender Combo •Cheeseburger Combo •Grilled Chicken Sandwich Combo •Chicken Tenders and Start Tots (GF)
Your choice of one (1) of the following Nathan’s Famous Eatery Items:
•Hot Dog and Fries •Chicken Tenders and Fries •Cheeseburger and Fries •Corn Dog Nuggets and Fries •Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Fries
Know Which Rides Are Most Popular
Every time we visit the park there are a few rides with long lines and wait times. Check online for feedback from previous guests about which rides had longer wait times. Knowing which rides have long lines helps us plan our route better and helps us make it enjoyable for all our kids, especially our son with Autism.
Since waiting for rides is tougher on him, we tend to start with the rides with little or no wait times first, then when he’s adjusted to the park we try a short wait, and slowly increase our wait times from there. Anything over fifteen minutes wouldn’t work for us, so sometimes my husband and I split up so the other kids can ride on the big rollercoaster which always has a long (for us) wait time.
Bonus Tip: Know The Accessibility Options
I always love to give props to parks and restaurants who go the extra step to help make experiences more enjoyable for special needs families. Dutch Wonderland has a great program for families who need it for their children. Visit Guest Services to enroll in their Ride Accessibility Program which helps with cutting your wait times significantly or giving guests the extra time they need to get into and off the rides.
Signing up is super easy and only takes a few minutes max. The park also offers a special discount for guests visiting the park with a disability. You can ask about the discounted ticket price at Guest Services as well.
Save On Admission
There’s still time to save on your admission ticket to Dutch Wonderland. Use code – summerblog18 – to save $4 on your admission ticket to the park.