We were recently invited to spend the day at Raging Waves in Yorkville. The wee ones and I received complimentary tickets and lunch, but all opinions remain my own. We had never been to this water park before, but we’ve been checking out local (and not so local) water parks for the past couple years, so the wee ones are experts.
Raging Waves is the largest water park in Illinois, and I was impressed by the variety of activities within the park. It isn’t just the usual water slides and lazy river. There is a fun water show featuring pirates that runs three times a day, as well as a sand area with diggers and racing pedal cars. We enjoyed the pirate show which was silly and entertaining and featured some truly talented performers who didn’t just dive but used a large trampoline do to tricks, as well. The wee ones were fascinated.
I loved that there are plenty of lounge chairs throughout the park for when you need a break. On a Saturday in June, we were able to not just find chairs but find some under a shaded canopy. That said, we never used them, except to apply sunscreen. I rode every waterslide in the park, and wow did I exceed my step goal that day. Even when I took a break late in the afternoon due to a blister I had forming that required shoes, I still followed the wee ones around, as I’m not quite comfortable letting my 8 and 10 year old wander the park alone.
That isn’t because Raging Waves isn’t a safe park. There are lifeguards throughout the park who are among some of the most alert I’ve ever seen. They are constantly scanning, and they are required to do four hours of continuing education per month or they lose their jobs. In addition, the tubes in the wave pool are clear, which helps lifeguards see more clearly to ensure that there are no issues that are being blocked by an inner tube. I saw several times where lifeguards intervened with park guests, even though to my untrained eye, there wasn’t much of an issue. I’d far rather have lifeguards be overly vigilant!
One of the hardest parts about water parks is carrying your tube up the slide. Especially with small children, I end up carrying the majority of the weight, and it wears me out. At Raging Waves, there are two slides that have larger tubes that have an automatic lift that brings the tube to you. I absolutely loved this feature. And I swear that the inner tubes at Raging Waves are lighter than ones we’ve carried elsewhere.
There are tubes available for all the rides on a complimentary basis (though a limited number), with the exception of the wave pool. You are able to purchase a wristband for $5 per person that grants you access to a separate set of tubes that you can use throughout the park, including in the wave pool. We saw lifeguards requesting people get out of unused tubes in the wave pool on a regular basis, though we enjoyed hanging out in the wave pool without a tube. We never ran into an issue where we had to wait for the complimentary tubes on a ride, though on busier days, I can see this happening.
The other upcharge within the park is a locker. For $10, you can rent a small locker with up to 4 wristbands to access it for the day. $15 gets you a “family size” locker that is double the space. We rented the smaller locker to put my valuables in, and it more than fit our items. The process of accessing the locker was fascinating, and the wee ones kept inventing reasons to have to get something from the locker.
Once you purchase access, your requested number of wristbands prints out with a unique bar code. When you are ready to put your items in a locker, you scan your wristband at the locker bank you wish to use for the day. A locker will open, and that is your assigned locker for the day. No worrying about what number you had, where it’s located in the bank, losing a key, or worse. Once you scan your wristband, your locker will open automatically, swinging out. If you try to use your wristband at another locker bank, it simply tells you where your locker is located but doesn’t open your locker, a great security feature.
We enjoyed our day at the park and loved every ride. The wee ones were determined to stay until the park closed (at 6pm that day), and they were riding slides all the way up until the park announced that was it. They had their favorites, and there was only one slide that they didn’t ride after the first time. PJ’s Plummet is the steepest slide in the park and is a body slide. Mister Man and I both rode it, even though we’d seen others getting off it crying or rubbing their backs. After riding this slide, we understood why. Mister Man had to remove his rashguard before riding to ensure it didn’t get snagged along the way. He came off the slide crying from the friction burns he had along his back. I ended up with water up my nose and similar burns, even with a fairly high-backed swimsuit. That is the only slide I recommend avoiding in the park. As fun as it is to go down fast, it’s painful.
The wee ones’ absolute favorite ride is the Boomerang, a funnel where you ride an up to four person tube down a slight hill then go up and down the sides of the funnel before ending in the pool below. It is one of the rides where you have to be 48″ or taller to ride it. Fortunately, there are signs throughout the park clarifying how tall you have to be to ride each of the slides (and 48″ is the highest requirement), and which you can ride with an adult at a smaller height, including a measuring stick to see where your child stands. That helps to prevent a lot of frustration.
While you can’t bring any food or beverage into the park, you are able to exit the park and reenter with a hand stamp and your original ticket. If you choose to pack a picnic in your car to save money, you are able to do so. There are several dining options throughout the park, however, and they are not expensive. There is a variety of food available, and the staff is able to accommodate many allergies – including Little Miss’s dairy allergy. If you have severe food allergies, you can make arrangements with Raging Waves ahead of time to bring food into the park, but you cannot simply show up and explain you have an allergy to get food in.
Raging Waves isn’t a cheap day, but it is reasonably priced, especially with the constantly available discounts. Single day admission is $29.99 per person, although you can get online deals for a family four pack and other discounts. According to Raging Waves, 90% of people entering the park use some sort of discount. They are frequently on Living Social, and you can get coupons from local retailers in the area, as well. Regardless, the wee ones are asking when we can go back because they had a blast when we said #WelcomeToSummer!