July 9, 2014

Epic Family Fun at Raging Waves Waterpark #WelcomeToSummer

The SuperMommy Family at Raging Waves Waterpark

This is a sponsored post! Raging Waves gave me a free pass to take my family, it's true, but all of the opinions/ (and the majority of the photographs) are my own.

The weekend before Independence Day, my family were graciously invited to spend a perfect July day at Raging Waves Waterpark, in Yorkville, IL.

It's about a forty five minute drive from Chicago proper, which is a long way to go for brunch, but completely reasonable for an all day excursion to one of the best sets of waterslides I've ever laid eyes on.

I'm not just saying that- I've seen a lot of waterslides. We've done the Wisconsin Dells on many occasions, and growing up in Michigan I made many day trips to Sandusky, OH to gets soaked at Cedar Point. And let me tell you, when it comes to waterslides, Raging Waves has them beat.

That said, I only got to watch for the most part. Going to a waterpark is a very different kind of adventure when you've got three kids under five in tow. You don't have the luxury of climbing up half a dozen flights of stairs, because there are three small people either too short or too distracted to handle the wait. So for the most part, the family stuck closer to the ground.

Our first stop was Kookaburra Kreek- the lazy river. This one was delightful- a full quarter mile of peaceful floating, with excellent views of the rest of the park. What's more, Raging Waves has higher water safety standards than most places when it comes to their lazy river. There was always a lifeguard in sight during our float down the river, which was a good thing because I worried that, where I was floating in my tube, if RH somehow slipped from my grip and went into the water, I might have trouble getting to her. But the life guards all around saw us, and I could tell they were keeping a vigilant eye on everyone as we drifted downstream. So from the cool comfort of Kookaburra Kreek, we planned our next steps. Our next step was the Kangaroo Falls- a kid's play area.

This place was AMAZING. at first glance, I was a little worried. My two four year olds freak out when their faces get wet, and they have height related anxieties, and general little-kids-who-don't-spend-much-time-playing-with-random-other-children nerves. But they were FEARLESS! They both ran right up the stairs to the biggest slides, and slid back down again. It was unbelievably adorable and so nice that they felt comfortable and confident enough to go it alone, without an adult.

I was totally comfortable letting them go it alone too, because the Kangaroo Falls structure is almost completely surrounded by fencing. They'd have to work at it to get lost, and I felt safe paying almost no attention to them as I stayed close to the littlest little.

RH had only turned two a whopping ten days before our Raging Waves adventure, and although that kid LOVES the water, she's not a fan of being surprised by it. One trip halfway up the stairs, and the giant bucket of water slowly filling up at the top tipped. We were both doused, and RH lost her cool completely.

Lucky for us, down the stairs there were plenty of other watery distractions. She played with a bubbling fountain for about half an hour while her sisters did laps up and down the slides.

And keep in mind- this is just Kangaroo Falls!

Once everyone was completely soaked, just the slightest bit sunburnt, and starting to lose interest in staying in sight of each other, we headed over to one of the lunch spots we'd seen on our lazy river ride.

I can't believe how big they are!
Now, we are a tricky crowd to feed. First there's the fact that four out of our party of six (we have a loaner teenager for the summer) are vegetarians. Then there's that two of the three vegetarian children are picky eaters, and the third is fairly lactose intolerant. And last of all, our loaner teen. That kid doesn't eat ANYTHING. Over a whole summer and now another month, I've learned the things she'll eat and I can count them off without running out of fingers. SHE DOESN'T LIKE NUTELLA FOR GOD'S SAKE!

But I digress.

It took some doing. There was much confusion in the snack shack, and many hangry words were shared between my children. But when it was done, everybody ate, and EVERYBODY was happy. That said, if you also have picky kids with dietary issues, you may want to bring your own food. There is a no-outside-food policy, but the owners made it clear they're happy to make exceptions for kids who need it. Next time, I may bring a sack of apple slices and grapes and rice cakes, just to smooth things over.

As for me? I truly enjoyed my grilled veggie wrap. It's part and parcel of being a vegetarian- you assume when you get a "fast food" type meal that a) it's not going to be very good, and b) it's going to take forever because they never actually have to make them. My grilled veggie wrap took a long time, but that was because they were actually grilling veggies to order. As you can imagine, the resulting sandwich was fabulous.

And M's burger was most certainly to his liking.

Sadly, the moment we placed our order, we realized the high dive show was starting. We ate, now watching the clock, determined not to miss the next one.

At Raging Waves, there are high dive shows throughout the day. They're a whole production- a story about pirates and pineapples and whatnot, with an old fashioned display of spectacular diving. You can see the performers climbing up the mast to the high dive from nearly everywhere in the park- it's that high! The whole thing is pretty sensational.

After lunch, the kids wanted to down Kookaburra Kreek again. And from the lazy river, we heard the announcement of the next (and last) high dive show of the day. The kids decided they'd rather head to Koala Kove- the wading pool adjacent to Kangaroo Falls. As we walked to Kangaroo Falls, we stopped to watch riders going down the Boomerang. The girls were FASCINATED, and definitely wanted to go. The only problem was, they were too short to go it alone, and while M and I could have taken them, M was a little busy being a place for a completely pooped RH to rest.

So on to Koala Kove it was.

Remarkably, the big girls were more frightened of the slides at Koala Kove. Unlike at Kangaroo Falls, the waterslides simply dumped them into the pool, and that made them nervous. So M took the kids back to Kangaroo Falls again and I stayed at Koala Kove with RH.

I don't know if I've ever seen a happier kid in my life. She kept bouncing and bouncing in the water, squealing with laughter and screaming, as she jumped again and again," TO OUTER SPACE!!!!"

With a gaggle of rapidly fading four year olds and a manically exhausted toddler, we decided to call it a day an hour before closing time.

Every day since, it's the same routine over breakfast.

"Can we go to Raging Waves today?"
"Can we go to the waterpark now?"

And while I keep saying, "Not today, kids," the good news is WE CAN! And so can you! There are always tickets on sale, particularly for a weekday trip. You can save a bundle when you get them at Costco (which means when we go to Costco the kids see the picture of the waterslide and start screaming, "RAGING WAVES! CAN WE GO????"), and there are regular events that let parents or kids in for free or reduced prices. On Father's Day, dads got in free. And since they weren't open yet on Mother's Day (they're a Memorial Day to Labor Day operation), they're hosting a Mother's Appreciation day next month to let moms in for free too.

We will DEFINITELY be back. No doubt. And if you're in the Chicago region (or the NW Indiana region- let's be realistic, where I live on the south side is barely Illinois), or southern Wisconsin, or even the near Minnesota area, it's worth the trip. If you're spending the day, I highly recommend renting one of the cabanas- they're tents with refrigerators, and shaded chairs and tables. You can reserve them in advance, and use them as a home base if you're with a crowd. That is most certainly in our plans.

There's so much we didn't get to do. We still haven't been to the wave pool, which looks epic. We still haven't explored the labyrinth of enormous slides to our satisfaction, and we STILL haven't seen that whole high dive show!!! You can bet we'll be back.

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