Monday, January 23, 2012
We had the most wonderful weekend. A month or so ago, I received an offer for our family to visit Castaway Bay, an indoor waterpark located in Sandusky, Ohio. I jumped at the opportunity because my kids love the waterpark--and so do I. There's something really enchanting about playing indoors at an 82 degree waterpark while it snows outside. You can almost forget that it's winter. This time around, we definitely forgot that it was winter! This was our first time at Castaway Bay and we definitely return. Of the waterparks we've visited in the past, Castaway Bay quickly became our favorite. There are many reasons why, but first and foremost, we loved it because it is SO perfect for young kids. We've had incidents with shoving, running teenagers knocking into our little ones before and we've struggled with there only being one slide that's really appropriate for young kids. And let's face it, even a two year old is going to get bored after awhile. Castaway Bay was great because there is SO much to do. If you live in my area, it's super easy to travel. The distance is about the same as to Wisconsin Dells, but you miss Chicago traffic. Basically, we just got on the toll road and drove east until we got to Sandusky--it was so easy! The Ohio turnpike is great, too, because there are plenty of safe, clean places to stop. We were greeted by a table full of goodies when we got there. The boys were so excited that I couldn't stop little hands from grabbing things long enough to take a photo! And while I know that as guests of the waterpark, we obviously got a little extra special treatment, but I cannot stress enough how great the entire staff was. Obviously I didn't walk around with a sign saying, "Hi, I'm a blogger," so outside of the few extra perks, we were treated just like everyone else. The staff was unbelievably kind and friendly. Every time we passed the main guest, someone would smile and ask how we were doing. When we asked for a rollaway crib for Tommy (because I like to keep him contained in baby jail), it was brought up immediately with extra linens and pillows. The staff made a point of talking *to* the kids--asking them if they were having fun. I really liked that. The family activities offered at the park are awesome. While some do involve paying a little extra for supplies, for the most part, the activities are free and plentiful. Luke and Tommy loved seeing Peanuts characters wandering around the halls and lobby! As soon as we got there, we hit the waterpark. The slides in the toddler area quickly became Tommy's favorites. I loved them, too, because to get from the bottom of the slide, out of the pool, and back up to the top of the slide was completely open. This meant that I could stand at the bottom of the slide and wait for him to come back down and at no point was he out of my line of vision! This is awesome, because he wants to do everything on his own, and I didn't have to worry about losing sight of him. Safety is so important and I love it when a place is safe, yet doesn't infringe upon the fun that is being had. Luke's absolute favorite was Rendezvous Run, a water coaster. The first time we went on it, I was afraid he was going to be scared because my stomach dropped on the first hill, followed by a straight shot into a pitch black tube. Of course, as soon as I got my bearings, I realized he was laughing gleefully and not scared at all. I lost count of the number of times we went up the stairs and down this ride, but it was a lot. I love that he's tall enough to go on these sort of rides! We also discovered that he was tall enough to go on Paradise Plunge, a body slide at the top of the family funhouse. It was really cool to do these "big kid" slides with Luke and watch him REALLY enjoy them. I found myself wishing I had a waterproof case for my phone, as I would've loved to capture his joy! Don't worry. I captured it in other places. Friday night, we all went to a blogger dinner, where the kids got to sample some of the crafts available at Castaway Bay. I love how Castaway Bay handled this event, by the way. They seemed to understand that while we were there as bloggers, we were--first and foremost--there as families, which meant that we were interested in doing activities with our family. The boys go to color tshirts, make door hangers, and decorate cookies. (Okay, I colored Tommy's for him, but Luke had a blast decorating his!) Cookie decorating was a huge hit... Luke had such a blast that before we left, he gave out hugs and I love yous to the two absolutely wonderful PR women behind the event. Oh, and did I mention that a special guest joined us? The kid who wailed at the sight of Santa this Christmas couldn't get enough of Snoopy. Go figure. We finally had to tell Tommy that Snoopy had to go night night, because he was obsessed with seeing him again that he didn't want to go back to the waterpark before bed! Fortunately for us, we saw Snoopy the next morning on our way to the waterpark. Best of all? He was wearing pajamas, totally keeping in line with our "Snoopy went night night" fib from the night before. Tommy was so excited that he stopped dead in his tracks. I didn't get any shots in the morning, because I wanted to just enjoy our last little bit there. We went up and down the waterslides more times than I count, played basketball in the pool, battled the waves in the wave pool, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Walking out of the waterpark was definitely not easy (I'm not naming any names, but one of us did have to be carried kicking and screaming out of the park). We stopped in the lobby while Shane was loading the car, where we discovered two very awesome things: free face painting and Linus! I *love* that Linus has his blanket. (Shane is clapping because we couldn't believe that Tommy sat still for face painting.) Although it was incredibly hard to leave, I love that we were able to end the trip with face painting. It gave the boys one last experience to talk about on the ride home. I didn't talk much about our room, but we were very pleased with the Starfish room. The room itself was quiet. We didn't hear any noise at all once we went to bed, which is such a blessing. I hate staying somewhere only to have none of us able to sleep because all you hear are loud people crashing around outside your room. It was just the right size for us and had a mini-fridge and microwave, both of which are essential when traveling with kids. And free wi-fi! I did check out the fitness room Saturday morning (yes, I'm crazy) and found it to be very nice. The room itself was cozy with a big window and two flat screen TVs to make working out a little less painful. I was definitely impressed. Overall, I can't say enough good things about our stay, except that we will be back and I cannot wait. If you're looking for a fun, affordable family friendly getaway, I would definitely recommended Castaway Bay! Our trip was provided by Castaway Bay, but all opinions expressed are my own. Huge thank you to Castaway Bay and thunder::tech pr for providing us with this amazing opportunity!