Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Atlanta Attractions: Six Flags & Hurricane Harbor

Summer is coming to an end for us and I'm staring to freak out  a little.  My girls start back to school in just 2 1/2 weeks. August 1st seems so early to go back to school and while I'm excited to learn about their new teachers and super pumped for their sports to start back for fall, I'm sad that summer will be coming to an end.  I love having my kids home with me for summer and I feel like the last week of summer doesn't even count because we are busy with back to school shopping, meet the teacher, PTA meetings, sports practices starting back, etc.  It just flew by and we didn't get to squeeze in near enough of the fun things I had hoped to do.  Some of you might remember that I shared my summer bucket list at the beginning of the summer and while we have done a lot of the things on the list, a lot of the outings just haven't made it onto our calendar yet.

With all of this in mind I decided this week we would visit Six Flags!  The girls both earned free tickets for reading a certain amount of minutes during the school year and I wasn't about to let those go to waste.  Since they expire soon after school starts I knew we had to jump at our chance and take advantage of a free day with nothing on our calendar.

We haven't been to Six Flags in a few years and certainly not since their new Hurricane Harbor water park had been opened. I was a little unsure how it would all work with the regular amusement park and the water park combined, but I'm pleased to say we had such an amazing day!

This is totally unrelated and probably should be a post on it's own, but there are times that I really miss the baby/toddler phase.  I loved when my kids were little and I often long for those days back again.  However, just when I'm wishing I could turn back time we go and have an amazing day like this where we all can enjoy "big kid" activities.  My girls had asked to bring friends with us, but I'm glad I made today just for us.  Me and my kids.  We made memories, rode rides, laughed, screamed with delight, and had an absolute ball.  Days like today are great for me and serve as a wonderful reminder that even though my kids are growing up, each phase with them will be just as wonderful in it's own way as the one before.

We had planned to leave and get to the park as they opened at 10 AM, but the awesome Atlanta traffic (insert sarcasm here) had other plans.  We still made it there before 11 AM though and jumped right into riding the rides.

I was honestly really surprised that there were little to no lines for the first part of the day.  We rode a lot of rides twice just because we were able to hop back in line with no wait!

The Log Jamboree was our first ride and the kids loved getting a little splashed from the water.  Little did they know that would be nothing compared to what we would experience later in the day.

We loved the all new DC Super Friends area.  This used to be the Bugs Bunny kid area and it has been totally transformed. It's a good bridge between the kiddie rides and the big rides and it was perfect for my kids. They are all thrill seekers and love to go fast, so this was like our warm up for the day.

By this time we were getting really hot and we were close to a few of the water rides so we decided to cool off.  Now, I'm usually one to steer clear of the rides that make me soaked, but it was so hot today that it was a welcomed treat to get splashed (or soaked in our case).

Splash Water Falls used to be one of my favorites as a kid and today did not disappoint.  We all got wet and since there was no one in line behind us as we were getting off the kids opted to go for a second ride.  I decided to go stand on the bridge above the ride so I could snap some pics and they got equally as wet this time.

We figured since we were already a little damp we should go ahead and give Thunder River a whirl.  The girls looked for what they said were "the wettest seats" so they would know the perfect spot to sit.  Well, it must have worked for them because they went right into the rapids and then straight through the waterfall.  They were totally drenched and loving it.  Boo-Boo was right beside them and he got pretty wet then it was me beside him. I was wet a little wet and my shoes were soaked, but it felt good.  Here's my warning: Do not go on this ride unless you are prepared to be totally soaked.

They do have a drying station outside of this ride, but it cost $5 so we were just stayed wet and let it help cool us off.

Next up was one of my old favorites, the Mind Bender.  It was the only ride we could do in this Gotham City area, but seeing the Batmobile was also pretty cool for Boo-Boo.

One tip I would have is to know your child's height ahead of time. That way you can plan your rides based on their height and not get up to a ride that they won't be allowed to get on because they aren't tall enough. Most of the larger roller coasters have a 48 inch or 54 inch minimum, but for some reason this one lets you go with an adult if you are 42 inches so we were so excited because it goes upside down!  That is a big deal if you are a thrill seeker kid and I couldn't believe all three of my kiddos were old enough to ride (and love!!!) a roller coaster that goes upside down.  We took a picture right after we got off with one of the "loop-di-loops" in the background to document the occasion!

By this time we were starving so it was lunch time. There are plenty of places to eat, but we opted for an indoor spot instead of a walk-up window so that we could cool off a bit. We shared two meals and I opted for the refillable sports cup.  It was about $20, but we all shared it and refilled it all day long.  We probably got 8 refills throughout the day so it definitely was worth it. No outside food or drink are allowed so this was our best bet for staying hydrated on such a hot day.

We decided to ride a few more rides and then make our way to Hurricane Harbor.  It's a water park inside Six Flags that is totally free with your admission to the park.  This was the part of the day that made me a little unsure since it was new to us, but it worked out great.

I carried a backpack with us all day that had our swimsuits, two towels, and flip flops.  It also had my wallet, keys, phone, etc. in the bag. On the rides I was either able to hold it or put it in one of the cubbies they have at each of the rides and it was no big deal to have it with me.  Upon arriving at the water park area we changed in the bathrooms and I put all of our things in a locker.  I squeezed everything in the smallest locker (a $13 charge), but it almost didn't fit so next time I'd opt for the size up.  We didn't end up needing our flip-flops so I would leave those at home next time, too.  I put my phone in the locker so I don't have many pictures of the water park, but it was so much fun.

We rode the Bonzi Pipelines first.  For these you have to have a single or double tube to ride down in.    Then we made our way over to Paradise Island, a treehouse type area filled with water slides, fountains, sprayers, buckets of water that drop on you when you least expect it, climbing structures and more.  It was awesome.  Some adults were sitting along the edge of this area in chairs (there are plenty there) with bags and towels so you wouldn't absolutely have to rent a locker if you didn't want to.  However, children under 36 inches must be accompanied by an adult and there were a few slides that you must be 42 inches to slide down.  I would not have felt comfortable to just sit and send my kids off to run around because it was such a big area and I wouldn't have been able to keep up with them.  If you had older kids though, that might be an option if you didn't want to get wet.

However, I had the time of my life. My kids thought it was so awesome that I was climbing up the nets (and steps) and sliding down with them and even though I got blasted with water from the giant buckets up above, we were all laughing and having the best time.  I felt like a kid going down the waterslides and just kept thinking that I couldn't imagine the fun my kids were having if I, as an adult, was having that much fun.  (I grabbed our things from the locker at the end of our fun and took a few pics!)

There was also a huge wave pool area called the Tsunami Surge, but we didn't get a chance to try out because it was getting late and we really needed to get home to our dog and I didn't want to be stuck in traffic on the way home, but next time we will for sure.  We changed back into our clothes (which were still damp from the water rides earlier) and I had promised the kids Dippin' Dots so we grabbed that (and a drink refill) on our way out.  Getting back to our car from the water park area took almost 45 minutes with our stops so I'm glad we left when we did.

On the way home they just kept talking about how much fun they had and what a great day it was. I felt the exact same way and am so happy that I made yesterday happen. It was great for all of us!

If you are going here are a few tips and tricks I would share from our experience:

*Get there when they open. Generally at 10 AM, but check the park website for details.  The lines are so short and you an squeeze in so much more fun earlier in the day.  When we left around 5 the park was a lot more crowded.
*Go during the week. I think that is also why we had such great luck with lines. I'm sure a weekend would have been a lot more crowded.
*Know your child's height ahead of time.  This really helped us plan what rides we would do and helped us to avoid any disappointment if someone couldn't ride a ride.  The maps giving out at the front of the park have the minimum height information for each ride.
*If you are going with little ones discuss the plan ahead of time. I made sure my girls knew that we would only be doing the rides that all of us could ride together.  This way they weren't begging to ride one of the bigger ones knowing that their little brother couldn't go on it.
*No outside food or drink is allowed. Food and drink inside the park is expensive!  We shared two lunch meals and it was more than enough.  I also discussed our snacking ahead of time and let them know they could each pick one "snack/treat" type of food.  Popcorn, pretzel, ice cream, Dippin Dots, etc. This helped cut down on them asking for every treat we passed.
*Buy the refillable cup.  It seems steep at $20, but we more than got our money's worth out of it today.  Plus, we all shared on cup so it was defiantly worth it!
*Wear comfortable shoes. It is a lot of walking. My girls wore their Chacos because they knew they would be getting wet and Boo-Boo and I just went with tennis shoes, which got wet, but they dried out quickly in the sun.
*Wear comfortable clothes.  We all wore athletic clothes and I probably shouldn't have worried too much about hair and makeup after seeing how drenched we got on the rides and how hot and sweaty we were.
*Don't forget sunscreen!
*I carried everything in a backpack.  I had our bathing suits, two thin towels, sun screen, sun glasses, phone, wallet, keys, etc.  It was no problem leaving it in designated spots while riding the rides I couldn't take it with me.
*Hurricane Harbor is not open the same hours as Six Flags.  It is a shorter time based on the day of the week.  We rode all the rides we wanted to at Six Flags and then went to Hurricane Harbor as our last part of the day at the park.
*There were plenty of changing spots in the bathrooms at Hurricane Harbor.
*I noticed a lot of people that had their swimsuits on under their clothes at the park so if you didn't want to haul them around all day that would be an option.
*There were also plenty of lockers at Hurricane Harbor that used an electronic code. This way you didn't have to keep up with a locker key.
*I brought a plastic grocery bag in my backpack and am so glad I did!  It was perfect for putting our wet swimsuits in after we changed back into our clothes.
*A lot of people had water shoes on in Hurricane Harbor, but a lot of people were also barefoot.  We went barefoot and it was fine.
*We spent about 3 1/2 hours riding rides and about 1 1/2 hours at the water park. There was still a lot we didn't get to, but felt like we had done a lot and their little legs were getting tired from all of the walking.  It was just the right amount of time for us!

If anyone has any other questions about the logistics of the day or anything about the park, let me know and if you have tips for me I would love them. My kids are already talking about the next time we can go back!
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