Water Country USA Tips

If you have been reading for a while, you may have picked up on the fact that I’m not a big fan of theme parks or water parks. This is in part because I don’t like crowds, but largely because I’m a chicken that doesn’t enjoy rides, especially ones with big drops. Yet when we headed to Williamsburg for our Virginia road trip, I knew that a visit to either Busch Gardens Williamsburg or Water Country USA would be a nice addition to our busy itinerary touring local historic sites and museums.

After looking at the websites for both, we decided that Water Country USA was more up our alley, as a lot of those coasters at Busch Gardens look downright frightening (or fabulous, depending on your point-of-view.) This would be the perfect “fun day” to compliment our time in Williamsburg and Historic Jamestowne.

Decision made, I was then faced with the question of how to prepare for a day at Water Country USA. Before going, I had a ton of questions about what to bring, where to store my stuff, and what to expect when I arrived. So I decided to write my own Water Country USA tips for other beginners. Based on my experience, here are my recommendations.

Water Country USA Tips

Go early! I can’t stress this enough. Trust me. If you are heading there on a warm day in the summer expect crowds and by the afternoon the wave pool can look like this:

Water Country USA Tips -- What to know before you go | Williamsburg, VA

Arrive even earlier. The park opens at 10:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. in the summer, but the parking lot gates open earlier. Not that you need to get there 45 minutes in advance but it is a good idea to get there a few minutes early to be one of the first people into the park.

Buy your ticket in advance. You can purchase tickets online and then scan the printout or digital ticket at the gate for fast access.

No outside food or drink (except water). I’d suggest bringing a reusable water bottle filled with cold water to at least start the day. All other outside food and beverages are not allowed. If you are on a road trip and brought a cooler (gee, that would have been smart!), you can exit the park and eat at your car, on the shady strips in the parking lot, or at the picnic tables outside the park.

Get a locker. It will give you peace of mind to have a safe place to store your valuables. The lockers are near Hubba Hubba Highway, Jet Scream and Daddy O’s Eats and there are regular and large lockers for all-day, in-and-out usage. If the lines are long at the first place, try another.

Stake out your spot. Even with a locker, it is still nice to have a place to sit and relax or dry off. Two good places to do this would be some of the many, many lounge chairs around the wave pool, more around some of the kiddie play areas, and others by the lazy river. You can also rent a cabana but, in my opinion, unlike a hotel resort pool, you won’t spend a lot of time in any one area and this seems like a bit of a waste of money. The Cabanas are $299 and fit up to six people and include meals and a locker.

Know before you go. Water Country USA does NOT hand out paper maps and the map displays don’t give a description of each ride. It is a good idea to download the app and look at it with your kids in advance of your visit to scope out what attractions look the most interesting.

Water Country USA Tips -- What to know before you go | Williamsburg, VA

Beeline to the big guys. Some of the more popular rides, like Vanish Point, Colossal Curl, and Aquazoid Amped have long lines, so go to them first to get a ride or two in before the rest of the crowds arrive. By the early afternoon the wait will often be 45 minutes for these rides.

Quick Queue? Just like Disney has the Genie+ Lightning Lane option, Water Country USA offers a Quick Queue ticket add on starting at $29.99 per person, which allows you to access the priority lane. There is also the Quick Queue + and Quick Queue Unlimited option. Each option includes additional rides. As you would expect, you pay the most to get unlimited Quick Queue access on the most popular rides. Honestly, most lines weren’t that long so personally I couldn’t justify that expenditure, but that is up to you.

Meal Deal? Speaking of personal choices, Water Country USA also offers an all-day dining deal, which may be worthwhile if you plan on spending all day in the park and plan to eat a lot. The Dining Deal includes one entree, side, drink, and dessert every 90-minutes at select dining locations. We don’t tend to eat much when we are hot and active so the meal deal wouldn’t work for us.

Lower your food expectations. There are tons of places to eat throughout the park. In fact, it felt like there are as many food stands as water rides. You can get fried shrimp, pizza, salads, hot dogs, chicken fajita sandwiches, steak sandwiches, ice cream, Dippin Dots, nachos, smoothies, and more. Just don’t expect it to be fast or all that good. And, of course, as an Anheuser-Busch company, there is plenty of Budweiser.

Water Country USA Tips -- What to know before you go | Williamsburg, VA

Water shoes are helpful, but not necessary. One of the questions I had before going to Water Country was what to do about my feet? My sensitive tootsies don’t take kindly to walking around on hot pavement. So there are two answers. 1) Aqua sock-type water shoes are allowed on the slides; or 2) There are cubbies outside of the slides to stow your footwear. It is an honor system but it seems to work.

Go Pros aren’t cool. I guess our Go Pro was something I should have left at home because I saw at least one sign saying that no cameras/video cameras were allowed (harness, helmut, selfie-stick, whatever) on the slide. There are a couple of slides that do allow cameras if they are attached to a chest harness or wrist strap, so plan ahead. You also shouldn’t have bathing suits with zippers, rivets, buttons or other things that could get stuck in cracks or scratch up the rides.

Wild Thang you make my heart sing. Wild Thang seems like a slightly older ride tucked away in its own corner and maybe for that reason it isn’t as crowded? Whatever it was, I enjoyed it just as much as some of the other rides but the line was usually pretty short.

Hubba Hubba Highway is not-so-lazy. When they say that the Hubba Hubba Highway is better enjoyed when wearing a life vest, they mean it. (Life vests are complimentary and available throughout the park.) There are no tubes and the water moves along at a good clip so it is easiest to relax and float in the vest.

Water Country USA Tips -- What to know before you go | Williamsburg, VA
Jet Scream

So there are my Water Country USA tips — from one first-timer to another. Now, on to what to pack…

What to Pack for a Day at the Waterpark

  • Sunscreen – preferably spray and good for wet skin
  • Sunhats — preferably those with a chinstrap so they don’t fall off. If you don’t have one, at least spray sunscreen on your scalp. Here are my favorite packable sunhats for women.
  • Towels — you mostly dry in the sun but it can be nice to stretch out on a towel for a break and it would be a must for cooler days
  • Sunglasses — also best with a strap but I wore mine all day with no problem (and no strap)
  • Waterproof pouch for your phone — I used my waterproof case but that didn’t solve the problem of not dropping it so I still locked it away. I wish I had remembered my around the neck waterproof pouch.
  • Goggles — if not for waterslides, the kids might prefer having them in the wave pool
  • Water shoes — I touched on this earlier but wear or bring aqua socks if you have them
  • Hand sanitizer — it is a water park after all
  • First aid kit — I never like to go to a place like this without some Neosporin and Bandaids at a minimum
  • Swim diapers — if anyone in your group isn’t potty trained, bring plenty extra of these
  • Swim shorts / rash guards — I don’t know about you but I don’t love walking around in my bathing suit. I found a pair of swim shorts was just the thing to make me feel comfortable and covered. A rash guard or swim shirt is also a great way to avoid sunburns!
  • Money — even if you keep it in your locker or use a cashless wristband, you will need some money in the park, no matter how well you plan
  • Change of clothes? That is up to you and where you are going after. There are family bathrooms, changing rooms and I think even showers (??? not totally sure on that one). Personally I felt so gross after all the in and out of the pools that I just wanted to get back to our hotel and shower so we didn’t end up using the brush or change of clothes we brought along.


Water Country USA Tips -- What to know before you go | Williamsburg, VA

Note: Our visit was hosted by Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. All opinions are our own.

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