On Labor Day weekend ( crazy, I know) Dan and I spent the day at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. The park is closing for season, but I still wanted to do a write- up to get my thoughts down on our visit. I love water parks. Years ago, I had a season pass to Raging Waters and I always try to visit parks near vacation destinations. This was my first time visiting Hurricane Harbor.
As much as I love theme and water parks, I am not a huge fan of Six Flags. I used to have a huge phobia over roller coasters. Huge. I would avoid them. For many years, I couldn't even do California Screamin' at Disney's California Adventure. I would wait in line, but bail at the last minute.
After my mom passed away in 2008, something snapped in me. My mom died, I was getting a divorce and I had inherited a home that needed major repairs. My life was in an upheaval and I felt like I had lost control. I was already completely outside of my comfort zone, so I decided to attack my fears. I went to Orlando, Florida and the first ride that I went on was The Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure. I had sweaty palms and was crushing the hand of my friend who was sitting next to me, but I did it. Once I did that coaster, I felt free and the intensity of the phobia had been lifted. I do sometimes have the nerves come back when I am waiting in line for a new coaster, but once I am on it, I am okay. Actually, I am more than okay, I love it and am usually giggling the entire ride.
Cut to July. Dan loves Six Flags and surprised me with buying us season passes. We thought that the passes included Hurricane Harbor, but they didn't. When we went to process the passes, we found out that they do not sell an option to have a pass with both the theme park and the water park. They need to be purchased separately. We had a premium type of pass that included any Six Flags park. I think this is a fail on their part. We would have gladly paid a high price to have a pass that included both Valencia Parks, but we don't need a pass that includes out of state parks. We were told not to worry about buying a Hurricane Harbor pass, because we were given a coupon booklet that included free waterpark passes.
Since we purchased the passes so late in the season, the coupon booklet was essentially a joke. We headed to Hurricane Harbor the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, expecting any coupon to be blocked out. However, what I found funny, is they just didn't offer any coupon for September. In the booklet we had free waterpark coupons for every month in summer with no blackout dates. The park is open through the last of September, when it would seem that it would be less crowded, yet they did not offer a free pass. I just thought this was weird. Really, I would have rather not had coupons and just have had the option to upgrade and why not September?
We arrived at park opening, which on a busy day is essential. We were able to get a locker and raft, but noticed that within a few hours they were both sold out for the day. I overheard that they ran out of children's life vests, which are free and mandatory for small kids in the wave pool. All of the lounge chairs were taken within the first hour, but we were too busy going on slides to bother with sunbathing.
Here some tips and things that I would do differently next time.
1. I would buy the front of the line pass. The queues were long and we missed a few slides because of wait times. On a very busy day, this would absolutely be worth it. Having a tube rental does cut the wait time on slides that require tubes, as you already have your tube and can cut in front of people waiting for them. Tube rentals are worth it! Plus, it just looks a little sad when people are wading around the lazy river, rather than floating in a tube!
2. Buy watersocks in advance. I don't know why anyone would attempt a day at a waterpark without them. I consider them a waterpark essential, but I saw a majority of people walking around without them. We didn't have any and had to buy them at the park. The price wasn't too outrageous, but they were limited on sizes and styles. I ended up with ones that were a size too big.The next time that I need a new pair, I will make sure to buy them in advance.
3. Bring chocolate. This seems silly, I know. Hurricane Harbor had heavy advertisement for chocolate, including ads for M&M's hanging over the lazy river. The advertising worked and we wanted chocolate, but found out that they don't sell it anywhere in the waterpark. Bummer. We ended up getting the next best thing, a big sundae from the Ben & Jerry's booth. On a related note, there is no seating to be had on a busy day. When the lounge chairs go, people take over the eating area as their personal base camp. If you don't set up camp, you may find it difficult to find a spot to eat later in the day. Luckily, we had pizza for lunch earlier and only ran into this problem with the ice cream.
4. Hurricane Harbor has a cool thing where you can put money into an account and it's drawn when your waterproof wrist band is scanned. This makes it really easy to get snacks and tube rentals during the day. Put in more money than you think you will need, as everything adds up fast. Any remaining money in the account can be returned at the end of the day. Another thing to do first thing in the morning, before it gets crowded. Also, the bands are good all summer, if you plan on returning and want to keep your tab open. I really liked this idea.
5. Take a look at your pictures at the end of the day. We ended up buying a bunch, just because they were so good!
Overall, we had a great time. The park is looking a little shabby and hopefully they will make some major repairs during the winter season. If I had my camera, I would have taken pictures of the rusty stairwells and patched up areas. This aside, I never felt unsafe and the staff was really nice and seemed attentive. I hope that we managed to go back next summer!