Disclaimer: I was offered free tickets to Dutch Wonderland and a free stay at the Cartoon Network hotel in exchange for posting. All opinions are my own.
Dutch Wonderland is an amusement park in Lancaster County, PA that holds a special place in my heart. We visited this park every year when I was growing up and I have the best memories. I have been looking forward to taking my kids to Dutch Wonderland since before they were born! Once we started planning this trip, I started to feel a little nervous. Would Dutch Wonderland be as magical as I remembered? The answer is YES! It was even MORE magical and amazing than I remember. I am so excited to share all about our trip!
Here are a few photos of me enjoying Dutch wonderland 25 years ago!
- Hours: During the summer open daily from 10-6. Click here for more hours throughout the year.
- Admission Fee: Prices vary by day and type of tickets but are around $50 per ticket. This gets you a full day at the park as well as preview hours from 3-6 pm the day before your visit. Children 2 and under are free. There is a military and first responder discount as well (these tickets are as low as $25!) Click here for all the pricing information and to order tickets. The best deal on tickets is for guests of the Cartoon Network Hotel. You can get 2 full day tickets for $39.99. This means you can visit for preview hours the first night and then two additional full days after that! These tickets can be bought at the front desk of the hotel. Click here for more info.
- Parking: General Parking is $20 and Preferred Parking is $25 for the day. Personally I think general parking is just fine! Parking is free for Cartoon Network Hotel guests and season pass holders.
- Park Re-entry: you can leave and re-enter the park during your visit. Just be sure to get a stamp!
Why Dutch Wonderland?
Dutch Wonderland features 35 rides, “Dukes Lagoon” water park, and several options for live entertainment. In my opinion, it is the BEST amusement park for young kids. There are 35 rides in the park and my 4 year old twins could ride all but 2 of them! Many I could enjoy with them, while some they could go on alone. My two year old had plenty to do as well. One thing I found very helpful was that if we came across a ride that my twins wanted to do that my two year old couldn’t – there was often a ride right next to it that the 2 year old could do on her own. That way I could put her on that ride instead of her just standing around waiting for her sisters. So helpful and made it more fun for her!
Duke’s Lagoon Water Park
The water park here is fantastic as well. Water parks that are geared towards little kids are hard to come by, but this one was perfect for my crew of 3 kids under 5. There were several slides that they could manage on their own (there is an attendant at the top of each slide to keep things safe and moving). There are also 2 separate splash pad areas. One had a water table that was perfect for my youngest who is not too keen on getting splashed yet. There was TONS of seating around the waterpark and it wasn’t too busy on a week day during the first week of June. In fact, it was practically empty for the last hour of the day (from 4:45-5:45). I’m sure it is busier later on in the summer but it was nice to catch a time with fewer crowds.
In addition to the water park area there are also two HUGE water slides called the pipeline plunge. You go down this on a raft big enough for two people – I loved riding down with my girls! One slide is blue and the other is black – in the black slide you ride down in total darkness 😳 Fun Fact – when I was a kid, a friend and I once got stuck in this slide and didn’t even realize it for a few minutes because its THAT dark and we couldn’t tell we weren’t moving 😂
Tons of Shade!
Another HUGE perk to Dutch Wonderland is that it has more shade than any other amusement park I have been to. There are tons of mature trees throughout the park so we never had an issue finding shade to cool off in while we were there.
We LOVE the live entertainment at Dutch Wonderland. A huge favorite for us (and one that is unique to Dutch Wonderland) is their dive shows! There are 4 dive shows that run daily (weather permitting) and take place in the Aqua Stadium – The Adventures of the Frog Prince, The Fantastical Flute, A Dragon’s Tale and Open Dive. It was SO fun to watch and the entertainers/divers really seemed to enjoy themselves as well. We enjoyed the other shows as well but the dive shows were a huge hit with us. You can read more about the entertainment options here.
The schedules may be different for your visit, but I went ahead and took photos of the show schedule while we were there. I wasn’t able to find any schedules online so I grabbed these photos when we were there during preview hours so I could plan our following day around catching a few shows.
Near the back of the park is “Exploration Island”. This dinosaur themed section has a shaded path with several dinosaur sculptures for kids to see and learn about different dinosaurs. There is even one that they can move and control on their own! There is an area where kids can dig in the sand for fossils as well. There are two rides here – Turnpike cars and a Gondola Cruise.
Cartoon Network Hotel
We absolutely loved our stay at the Cartoon Network Hotel. This hotel is truly designed with kids in mind – from the over-the-top splash pad to the individual tv’s installed in the bunk beds – my girls were in absolute heaven here!
Cartoon Network Hotel is located right next to Dutch Wonderland. We were able to walk out of our hotel room and walk to the park in under 3 minutes! The convenience alone is worth it – but there were plenty of other perks as well!
The resort style pool offers a beach-front entry and has a large shallow area – perfect for my little ones. For older kiddos (and adults!) there is a huge water slide (must be able to stand in 4 ft or swim on your own to ladder). There is a hot tub for ages 16+ as well as in-water lounge chairs (my favorite!) We really loved that there were several shaded cabanas with couches surrounding the pool. Gave us a comfy spot to hang out and take a break from the sun! The Powerpuff Girls themed splash pad is right next to the outdoor pool and is amazing! Activated by a button, the splash pad has a water table, dumping buckets and dozens of sprayers to keep kids entertained. There is also a large indoor pool nearby with a hot tub and clean bathrooms.
In the evenings there are fire pits starting at 8 pm and movie nights starting at 9. There are several other resort activities offered that vary weekly – you will get a schedule of these events during check in!
The main building features a fun “toon room” with iPads set up for kids to create their own Powder Puff Girl, tables and chairs with coloring sheets, a large interactive game wall (my girls played here for an hour!) the Ben 10 arcade and virtual reality pods! There is even a scavenger hunt throughout the hotel and kids can earn a prize for completing it (we hoped to do this but ended up running out of time).
There is also an on site restaurant as well as the Bearista Cafe that is a full service coffee bar in the mornings and a bar at night!
Resort guests also get the best deals on Dutch Wonderland tickets! Guests of the hotel can purchase tickets at the front desk for $39.99. These tickets are valid for TWO full days at the park PLUS the preview hours the afternoon before your first day. Dutch Wonderland allows guests to visit for “preview hours” the last 3 hours that the park is open from 3-6 pm. I highly recommend taking advantage of this time if you can!
We arrived at the motel at noon but check-in time wasn’t until 4 pm. After checking in at the front desk we were able to have access to the hotel amenities (including the outdoor and indoor pool and splash pad) while we waited for our room to be ready!
Worth noting – there are no elevators in the motel buildings (they are two stories tall). We left our strollers in our car before taking the stairs up to room. If stairs are an issue for you, be sure to request a ground floor room!
Here is the general itinerary of our trip, in case you are looking to plan one on your own!
- 12:00 pm: Arrive at Cartoon Network Hotel. Check in at desk and get our Dutch Wonderland Tickets. Head to pool while we wait for our room (check in time is not until 4:00pm) We were able to change into our swim suits in the indoor pool bathrooms! We had picked up Chick-fil-a down the street and ate lunch at the picnic tables near the pool before we started swimming.
- 2:45: Head to Dutch Wonderland for preview hours from 3-6 pm. We did rides from 3-4:45 and the water park for the last hour of the day. The water park was busy earlier in the day, but practically empty for that last hour.
- 6:00: Head back to the hotel. My dad ran out to get pizza from Vinny & Those Guyz Pizzeria for an easy dinner (great pizza!). The girls went to bed early and we got ready for a full day at the park.
- 7:00 am: Woke up, ate breakfast in our room that we brought from home. Headed down to play in the toon room in the lobby
- 8:00 Bearista Cafe opened in the lobby, so we grabbed coffee before heading back to our room.
- 9:15 am: Headed back to Dutch Wonderland for the day! The park does not open until 10 but resort guests get to skip the line and arrive at 9:30. There are 4 rides at the front of the park available at this time.
- 3:00 pm: Rain kicked in and the girls were exhausted so we headed back to the room. It didn’t rain very long, but Dutch Wonderland has an amazing rain guarantee! If it rains continuously for 1 hour during your visit, you can stop by guest services for a FREE ticket to return on another day. You can find out more about their rain guarantee here.
- 4:00 pm: Went to Strasburg Creamery for some pre-dinner ice cream. Don’t miss their peanut butter ice cream!
- 5:00pm: Went to Agape for dinner. This was a new-to-us spot and the food was amazing! We got smoked pork burnt ends with mac and cheese and brussel sprouts. They had a ton of great menu options and offer indoor and outdoor seating. Right next to the restaurant there are goats and a feed dispenser so kids can feed them. It was raining a lot at this point so I don’t have any pictures and we took our food to go, but we’d love to come back and dine in next time we’re in town!
- 7:00pm: Girls went to bed early (they were EXHAUSTED on this trip!) and Bill and I went down to the hotel bar for a drink while my mom hung out in the girls room. The bar even offers to-go cups if you want to walk around the resort with a beverage!
- 7:00: Breakfast at Oregon Dairy (15 minute drive from hotel). This is a family owned dairy, restaurant, market and ice cream shop in Lititz, PA. There is indoor and outdoor seating, a great playground, and farm animals for kids to see and feed. The breakfast was one of the BEST I’ve had in a long time. Don’t skip the chocolate milk either – it’s made on-site and absolutely amazing! We sat outside on the deck and the girls loved playing on the playground while we waited for our food.
- 9:00: packed up our room, checked out of the hotel and headed back to Dutch Wonderland for our final day at the park park before driving home.
Tips for Dutch Wonderland
Dutch Wonderland has a fantastic website. I strongly suggest reading through their FAQs/Tips page when you are planning a trip. I’ll include some info here but their page has everything you need to know!
- Outside food is not allowed at Dutch Wonderland, but their website states that you can bring in a few small snacks. We packed some applesauce pouches and individual packs of goldfish. Each guest is also permitted to bring a water bottle, and there were several water bottle fill stations throughout the park. This is SO much better than other parks we have visited where our only option was to purchase bottled water in the park. Thank you Dutch Wonderland!
- There are several food options within the park. You can find a full list here! We had lunch and Penley’s Pub one day and then snacked on Auntie Anne’s another time.
- If you’d like to pack your own lunch, you ARE able to leave the park and come back – just get a stamp before exiting the park. The parking lot isn’t too big so its no big deal to walk back to the car. There are picnic tables outside of the park. If you exit the park and walk left, they will be on the left hand side off of the sidewalk.
What to Bring:
- If visiting during the summer: Towels and a bathing suit for the water park! We love our lightweight, space saving microfiber towels. I can easily fit 5 towels for our family in my backpack with room to spare. They also dry quickly so you aren’t lugging around wet towels all day. You can find them on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
- Comfortable walking shoes. I wore sneakers and brought flip flops to change into in the water park.
- A stroller if you have little ones. The park is small and manageable but I still found it helpful to have a stroller for all 3 kiddos. We brought a double stroller and a single so that each kid would have a seat. This was also helpful since we could walk to and from our hotel. Even though it was a short walk, it was nice to let the kids relax in the stroller and just get back to the hotel quickly at the end of the day.
- Change of clothes for everyone! Outside of the water park, there are a few opportunities to get wet. There is a “splash zone” during the dive shows, and a “Double Splash Flume” ride where you can get splashed as well. Its a good idea to have a spare change of clothes just in case!
- If you are nursing or bottle feeding and need a quiet place to feed your baby, take advantage of the nursing mothers station. It is right at the front of the park to the right when you walk through the entrance.
- Stroller rentals are available if you prefer not to bring your own.
- You CAN do this park as a day trip. The park is open from 10-6 so even coming from Maryland, you can leave by 8 am and be home by 8 pm. We will likely plan a day trip ourselves again before the summer is over. However, it was a really nice to stay the night and take advantage of the preview hours – especially if you have little kids. We were able to take our time, make sure we got to see some shows, ride all the rides we wanted, and didn’t feel stressed about packing everything in. Also, we were there at a non-busy time of year (weekday in early June). It may be harder to fit everything in if lines are longer for each ride.
- In addition to the Cartoon Network Hotel, there is also the Old Mill Stream campground within walking distance of the park.
- If you can, visit on a weekday to avoid crowds. We visited during the first week of June on a weekday and never really had to wait in line for anything.
Best ages for Dutch Wonderland
- I received a LOT of questions asking what the best ages are to visit Dutch Wonderland. This is hard for me to answer because every kid is different, and my kids are all under 5 so I don’t know how older kids would enjoy it. At ages 2 and 4 – my kids seemed like the perfect age with plenty of room to grow in to the park as well. The 4 year olds could ride every single ride in the park except for the Kingdom Coaster. They loved them all! My 2 year old was tall enough to ride 18 of the rides (many of these she needed to be with an adult but there were also several she could do alone). Eventually kids will out grow this park and the rides will seem too little for them – but that age will be different for every kid! If you have a kid who is a thrill seeker and does upside-down roller coasters then maybe they would get bored here. But we saw many kids up to age 12/ish enjoying the water park, roller coasters, dive shows etc. As far as little ones go, I think kids would start having fun around age 2. Though even younger kiddos would still have fun going with older siblings!
I hope you’ve found this post helpful in planning your Dutch Wonderland trip! We truly had the most amazing time and already can’t wait to go back!
1 thought on “Dutch Wonderland // Cartoon Network Hotel”
SO fun! What a great adventure…and can’t beat the convenience of a 3 min walk?! 🤯