I’ll be the first to admit it. I moved to the Outer Banks seven years ago to get away from the hustle. I high tailed it out of suburbia and never looked back because I wanted our kids to grow up in an environment with nature around every corner, less stress and materialism and beautiful weather. I wanted these kiddos to see the ocean every single day as a reminder that there is a big huge world out there and that it’s theirs for the taking!
So honestly, when a waterpark was being built less than 5 miles from our house, I was hesitant to get on board with the idea. First of all, the Outer Banks is known for being a beautiful sanctuary, one with open beaches and fresh air and the commercial aspect really doesn’t fit in here. Second, I didn’t really see how something like this could work for our family since we have such a wide range of ages. With an infant, a toddler and a teenager, we aren’t often able to find something that pleases everyone. But, once I heard how excited our oldest two kiddos were about the idea, I changed my tune and quickly found myself getting excited about the progress of the park as we drove by. We packed up the crew on Friday and headed out to the park for some fun and man, we were impressed!
We decided to leave our tiny Lulu with Grandma so that we could ride the bigger slides and really dive in without hesitation. We absolutely loved the thrill slides with Joey and we were honestly shocked and so happy with how quickly the lines moved because of the professionalism of the lifeguards. Jason could have rode the Paradise Plunge over and over again and Joey and I loved the Rip Tide. The real surprise of the day was that we could ALL ride a slide together and we LOVED the Queen Anne’s Revenge. All four of us piled into the raft and laughed hysterically at Penny’s facial expressions with each twist and turn down the slide before splashing into the water pool below. We have some of Penny’s sweet friends to thank for helping her find her bravery and convincing her that she was big enough to give it a try because she loved every second of it! I just loved that we found a slide that we could do with both of our big kids, even though they are 8 years apart.
Sand Pail Beach and Calico Jack’s Cove were the perfect place for Penny and I to splash and play and getting to see some local friends was such a fun surprise. She loved the splashing water and slides over at Calico Jack’s Cove and was so excited when she realized that the entire pool at Sand Pail Beach was just her size. I really think that she will grow as a swimmer over the course of the Summer and can already see a renewed confidence in her after being so brave on the Queen Anne’s Revenge! She loved swimming in the Twin Tides wave pool in the kid’s area too. Penny rode every single slide that she was tall enough for and can't stop talking about the fun she had!
I’d be leaving out my favorite part if I didn’t tell you about the shade! There is so much shade which means that our littlest can come next time and I can grab a spot in the shade while Penny plays an arms reach away at Sand Pail Beach! I’m extra excited about the fact that the shade is free. Meaning, you don’t have to pay for an extra fancy cabana just to have a place in the shade. I can’t even hit up the newest park in town with the Outer Banks with Lulu for more than 20 minutes because of the shade factor so this is a huge bonus for me with a little one!
Joey was up and down the towers to the slides and rode all of them multiple times. He is really excited to head back and try the last two slides that aren’t finished just yet and is already putting his water park birthday party plans in the works. I still can’t believe that he turns 13 next month and is officially teenager material… Heaven, help me!
After an amazing day of fun in the sun, I finished the night with a float down Teach’s Tides Lazy River. I already look forward to sneaking away for a kid-free date night with Jason for a frozen drink from Flyboy’s and a float down the lazy river! (A girl can dream, right?)
On Saturday the kids begged to go back but we resisted so when they were still trying to convince us to go back on Sunday morning, we caved. We headed over to the park around 11am and spent 7 hours there! We decided that season passes were a must since we were there 2 out of the 4 days that they were open! This time we took Lulu along and she did great! She napped, she splashed and she people watched. Basically, the perfect day for our water baby. Oh, and she looked incredibly cute doing it all!
Tons of pros here, right? Ready for the cons?
The food! When lunch is a third of the price of admission and you have a full family to feed you might be looking at a $75 lunch. With the park re-entry option, you can always pack a lunch for your crew and picnic on the tailgate of your minivan mid-day. Since we plan to be there weekly, we will likely eat before we go or picnic in the parking lot. The food options that they have are pretty impressive for amusement park standards but for $75 we would rather hit up The Black Pelican any day of the week. We let the kids grab a treat on the way out and they both picked jelly beans from the candy and fudge store. I think Jason is still a little bit sour over spending $14 on two bags of jelly beans! The park website shows that you can also bring in one 20oz. unopened bottle of water which is pretty generous in the world of waterparks if you ask me!
We tailgated for lunch on Sunday but ended up staying so long that we grabbed some nachos to share late afternoon. They were delicious and better quality that your typical amusement park food in my opinion. No, they probably won't win a culinary award but they could be serving far worse and getting away with it.
There are a few ways to get a little more for your dollar with the food and drinks as well. With out season pass we are able to save 10% on all the food and drinks. We also purchased the refillable soda tumbler and refillable beer tumbler which we can bring back every time for discounted drinks. Speaking of the season passes... take a look at Penny's expression in her pass photo. She was on cloud nine knowing she will get to spend the Summer swimming with friends! Not pictured; her jazz hands that went along with her excitement!
The only other con would be that there is a smoking section within the park. I'm sorry, but it's 2017. If you want to smoke a cigarette, go outside the park gates. A few times the wind caught the smoke from the smokers section and carried it to the Sand Pail Beach, the kids section! If there must be a section for the smokers, it should be somewhere far away from the children's area.
Guys, I’m not kidding when I say that absolutely every single employee was kind, friendly and knowledgable. I watched a lifeguard help a little one who had wandered away from her mama with the same kindness and love that I know would put my Penny at ease should she find herself in that position. I noticed employees communicating with one another and making sure that they were all on their toes. I saw a manager hustle over to help a guest with her hands full as she tried to get the food to hungry kiddos at the table. As we were leaving, a lifeguard asked me about our experience and I couldn’t help but smile because I could tell that he actually cared.
The water wasn’t the only refreshing thing about this park and H2OBX made a believer out of me! See you there next weekend! ;)
More pics on Instagram stories at @audrakrieg. xo!