I have vivid memories of visiting Dutch Wonderland in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country when I was a little girl. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of introducing my son to the theme park for the first time.
It’s a short day trip from the Washington, D.C. or Philadelphia area, and it’s well worth the drive if you have little ones around ages 3 to 10. Opened in the 1960s, the park still has a really neat mix of vintage attractions along with its modern rides. Dutch Wonderland is a “kingdom for kids,” starting with its huge castle-shaped entrance and its cast of characters that roam the park, and continuing with its rides that will make kids feel like a prince or princess for a day.
This park really is amazing for younger kids who aren’t quite big enough to ride at regular amusement park. At 38 inches tall, my four-year-old son could ride almost all of the rides (he needed to be accompanied by an adult sometimes). Honestly, I wasn’t sure what he would think because he was still a little afraid of the car ride at Chuck E Cheese a couple months ago. I didn’t need to worry at all, though, because he dove right into the fun and wasn’t afraid of any of the rides – including ones that went fast or high.
Let me bring you along with us for the day. We entered the park about a half-hour after it opened and went straight for the little hand-cranked riding trains. Since it was still early, the line was short enough that my son got on different trains and went around four times without having to wait. He had been on hand-cranked trains at Strasburg Railroad before, so he felt comfortable with those already. From there, we went on the monster trucks several times, the frog ride that takes kids up in the air and bounces them around a little a few times, and the monorail (which my son called “the air train”) to get a view of the entire kingdom.
He “milked” the cow that squirts water out of its udder, which I remember doing as a girl, and then he drove the remote controlled cars a bunch of times. The RC cars do take tokens, so have a few extra dollars with you if your child is into that. At that point, we were hot and hungry, so we checked out the food options. The buffet was air conditioned, which is a plus, but it was also pretty pricey, so we decided on Nathan’s Hotdogs, just to the right hand side once you’re inside the park, instead. We thought the hotdogs, fries, and lemonade were yummy and reasonably priced for amusement park food. Usually, we do eat healthier than that, but hey, it is fun to splurge sometimes. For families that have food concerns, there are healthier choices too.
Just past the Nathan’s Stand was a face-painting area, and my son wanted to look like Marshall the Fire Dog. Ta-da! He was so proud to look like Marshall. After that, he rode the merry-go-round a bunch of times. Then we hopped on my favorite ride of the day that made us fly around like Super Man. For a kid’s ride, I thought it went pretty high and fast. It was awesome. Carson wanted to ride it again, but I told him mommy would lose my lunch if we did it again (lol). Around that time, a princess and a wizard stopped to chat with Carson, which was a good distraction.
From there, we went to the big slide, little construction diggers, a roller coaster, the vintage Turnpike Cars (such a cool attraction), and a boat ride that paralleled the Turnpike cars. It was late afternoon at that point, so my husband and I sat on a shady bench and watched Carson bike around a track many, many times.
We stopped to take a photo at the giant pretzel, which I feel like my family did when I was young too. My son rode the whip ride a bunch of times, and then we saw the Badland Bears show, which I also am pretty sure my family watched when I was a girl. The automated bear band sings country and bluegrass songs like “Country Roads” and “Grandma’s Featherbed.”
Next up was the airplane ride, the space shuttles, and the water park. Daddy bought Carson the plastic toy boat that he had been obsessing about so that he could play with it on the water tables. Carson got splashed in the face, and his cute Marshall face paint ended up looking more like he was a zombie who had been doing some greasy mechanical work under a car by the time he was done playing. Fortunately, my son could not see his own face. It was about a half hour before the park was going to close, so we walked back toward the entrance and ended the day by buying a couple of photo keychains to keep the memories with us.
It might sound cheesy, but I really will cherish all of the smiles and laughs from that day. Even with a couple of rides closed for roller coaster construction, there was plenty to keep us busy for nine hours. We collapsed into our vehicle, and both Carson and my husband were asleep within minutes of being on the highway toward home.
Dutch Wonderland generously gave our family free admission to the park, and we spent our own money once we were inside the park. To help you budget if you decide to go, meals, face-painting, driving the RC cars, drinks, a toy boat for the water park, sunglasses, and souvenir keychains added up to about $70 for us. You can use the discount code MamaMuseMeSBlog16 to save a few dollars on admission if you order tickets online. Thank you, Dutch Wonderland, for a wonderful family experience.