If you grew up around the DMV area and remember going to King’s Dominion you may think that this theme park was built for an older crowd with the best old school roller coasters such as the Intimidator and the newest roller coaster Twisted Timbers. Yes it’s true that Kings Dominion has thrilling roller coasters and rides for big kids or the kids at heart; however, after exploring the park a little further you will find that this park has so much to offer families with young children.
This is our second year attending the park with our two small boys and find Kings Dominion to be one of the most kid friendly parks in the DMV area. We enjoy this park so much I don’t mind venturing out solo to entertain the kids through out the summer. Trust me when I say, I know how stressful it can be to go somewhere for the first time and have no clue what to expect. So I wrote this article to help families in preparing for an amazing day at King’s Dominion.
RIDES FOR LITTLE’S
The first thing that you want to do when you arrive to the park is have your child’s height checked near the fountains near the parks entrance. A Kings Dominion staff member will check your child’s height and help them put on wrist band that indicates which rides they can go on. This step will help to save time and frustration for what rides they can and can’t go on and prevent confusion with ride attendants. This picture was from last year and it’s really neat to watch your kids grow and reach a new color each year. My oldest son now 5 wears a green wrist band and my youngest son is still wearing a grey wrist band. I have noticed that 36” seems to be the magic number. You will find a number of rides for toddler 36″ and taller to ride on solo!
One thing that wasn’t around back in my day is the recently renovated and expanded Planet Snoopy which is designed especially for littles. You could easily spend an entire day in this one section because there is just so much to do! From entertaining shows to fun family rides and thrilling kiddie rides to kid friendly food; you will find everything you need in this section. I love that there are classic rides like bumper cars and unique rides like Snoopy’s Rocket Express. For a full list of rides and height restrictions visit Kids Rides Link.
Our favorite rides that even littlest of buddies (36 inches) can ride independently were: The Kite Eating Tree, Lucy’s Cabbies, Peanut Turnpike, Snoopy vs. Red Baron, Snoopy Junction, Peanut’s Road Rally and Snoopy’s Space Buggies. Some my oldest (42+”) got to ride without a chaperone are: Great Wind Up, Peanut 500 and Joe Cool Driving School, Lucy’s Tugboat, Sally’s Sea Plane, Snoopy’s Rocket Express and Wood Stock Whirly Bird.
RIDES FOR FAMILIES
Don’t worry there are a plethora of rides beyond Planet Snoopy, especially rides that are great for families. Our favorites are the Blue Ridge Tollway, Eiffel Tower, Ferris Wheel and Shenandoah Lumber Company. For a list of family rides and height restrictions click on the following link Kids Rides Link.
TWO PARKS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
One great place to hang out during the hot and humid summers is Soak City! The water park is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and is FREE with regular park admission! When it comes to younger kids you will want to check out Soak City’s two huge water play areas. Our group found Lil’ Barefoot Beach Soak City Splash House to be perfect for infants, toddlers and preschoolers! Two other really fun places for family to hang out is at the wave pool and lazy river.
Two things I learned from my visit right away were: you don’t need to bring your own life vest or flotation devices. The park provides a plethora of life vests in a variety of sizes. The second thing I learned was to have your children wear water shoes. Soak City is a large area with a quite a bit of walking distance between attractions and the ground gets very hot!
THERE’S A THIRD SECTION!
In the very back of the park, there is a fun walk through exhibit called Dinosaurs Alive. Dinosaurs Alive didn’t exist when I was a kid. I think this part of the park sometimes gets forgotten about. But it’s definitely a great attraction to visit when at Kings Dominion. This section is free for season pass holders and only $5 for day pass holders.
Amusement park food is something my kids love! The parks different venders offer all the kids favorites: chicken tenders, hotdogs and pizza. If you have four or more people in your group I recommend getting a whole pizza for $30 you can feed 5-6 people. They didn’t have chain restaurants available in the park back in the day but now you can enjoy Chick-Fil-A (not open on Sundays), Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and my kids all-time favorite Sweet Frog right in the park!
PLAYFUL PARENT TIPS AND TRICKS
- First and for most…saving money on tickets is a big deal! Keep in mind that guests under the age of three are free! If you catch the deal at the beginning of the year the best way to save money is to get your littles the pre-k pass which allows kids ages five and under a free season pass! For discounted tickets its best to purchase them in advanced; check with your local parks and recreation or if you are military purchase your tickets on base. Also, be on the look out for specials through the park. Last year they had a flash 50% off sale!
- Take advantage of the family accommodations. Grab a parent swap pass if you have young children. Kings Dominion offers a service where the parent of a small child waits in line and both can ride! To obtain a Parent Swap Pass, visit Guest Services located at the Front Gate upon arrival at the park.
- I love that Kings Dominion has a special program called KidTrack to help if little ones should get separated from their parents. Check with guests services for accommodations and read the parks guide lines, accommodations and suggestions for visiting the park comfortably with a special needs child. Special Needs Accommodation Link
- Kings Dominion has families best interest at heart. There is an air-conditioned family care center located in Planet Snoopy where you can take a break, change diapers and even nurse your baby. You will find everything you need; rocking chairs for comfortable nursing, bottle warmers and a microwave, family style bathrooms and toys for entertaining.
- One thing that I have learned is that your stroller is more than just a device for transporting your little one. It is your locker on wheels! It’s where you keep your baby bag, change of clothes, towels for the water park and even where you keep your food and beverage. While you can’t bring outside food or beverage. Water bottles are perfectly acceptable! Secure a mommy hock to provide room for your water bottles. Save money on beverages, bring your own water bottle and ask to have it filled. Filtered ice water is free and the perfect way to stay hydrated on a hot day. You can also purchase a refillable cup if you will be visiting the park more than once.
- When I prepare for a summer day trip to Kings Dominion I usually dress my children in their bathing suits. Their rash guards provide them with extra protection from the sun and they are ready for soak city. I pack towels and a change of clothing for when we are done and ready for dry rides.
- Consider using a water proof phone case that you can store your phone and money in that way you don’t have to worry about your personals and can focus on your family. I wasn’t able to find one of the phone case that go around your neck so I got a small fanny pack with enough room for my phone and a credit card. I got it from the sports section at Walmart for $9.
- Take a time out by stopping to see a show. We really enjoyed A Cirque Experience, featuring an incredible showcase of strength, balance and athleticism. It’s in-doors so you can cool off in the AC.
- Download the mobile app so that you have a easy to use map, information about show times and park updates; not to mention get notifications on discounts.
- Kings Dominion has something fun to do year round now!!! So be sure to spring on Twisted Timbers, splash all summer at Soak City, scream in the fall at The Great Pumpkin Fest and Halloween Haunt and have a holly jolly good time at the all-new WinterFest in winter. Don’t miss the fun events this year including Taste of Virgina, Memorial Weekend Salute with FREE military passes, Run & Ride, Star Spangled Celebration and more!
Address: 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047
Hours: Park Hours Vary (Summer Hours 10:30 AM – 10:00 PM) Park Hours Link
Cost: Day Pass $46/Season Pass $99 Renewal or $120 New Pass/ Children 3 and under FREE/FREE Pre-k Pass available until Memorial Day Weekend
***I want to thank Kings Dominion for inviting The Playful Parent for a fun day at the park. The Playful Parent is not paid to write articles. All pictures and information presented are my own unbiased opinion. It is an honor to share tips and suggestions to help make vacationing fun and easy for families. For more information on travel and guides for other attractions check out The Playful Parents Travel Section: https://theplayfulparent.org/traveling/***