Historically, my kids get a little ticked at me when I do what they would call “withhold fun” from them. For example, Virginia Beach is about two hours away, yet our first day trip there was a year ago. All the way home, I heard, “Why have we never done this before?”
Place our car heading south on I-95 back to Richmond, push play, and it’s safe to say we will be headed back to Kings Dominion this summer. The good news for parents is it’s much closer than the beach. The even better news? Kings Dominion lets you drive and drop your teens right at the front entrance so they can play all day while you do your thing. When it’s time for pick-up, just let the parking attendant know and he’ll wave you through.
When I dropped off the 14-year-olds, I gave specific instructions to spend more time in Soak City than in the rest of Kings Dominion – not a difficult task, considering they were there on what might have been the hottest day of the summer so far. The women-children in the group were a diverse lot: one die-hard roller coaster freak; one middle-of-the-roader; and one certifiable wimp. As it turns out, this is what is good about water parks in general, and Soak City at Kings Dominion in particular. Everyone loves water rides!
As I drove the teens home (about a 30-minute trip with some traffic), they talked about their day. Because I’m a mom, I’ll start with the two general observations from the back seat that impressed me: even for a super-hot Sunday, the lines moved quickly in Soak City; the music that plays throughout the water park is contemporary (also known as awesome) and the sound system is first-rate, important for teens especially.
Zoom Flume, Pipeline Peak, and a trio of slides (Aqua Blast, Thunder Falls, and Paradise Plunge) were rated awesome. Paradise Plunge achieved its ranking not only for its thrill factor, but also because of its aesthetics with lights and colors inside the slide. Pipeline Peak is a tube-free ride, which doesn’t make for ultimate comfort, but it was still fun.
According to the review team, the Splash House is a great all-ages kid zone (that huge bucket overhead that dumps out gallons and gallons of water never gets olds), but older kids need to be considerate of the younger set when they’re exploring here. Tidal Wave Bay is a wave pool. The end. This teen team said they didn’t go to Soak City to languish in a wave pool, “but if that’s your thing, go for it. It was very crowded.”
It should be noted, that they didn’t ride the funnel-style Tornado, one of the chauffeur’s favorite water rides at the recently renovated Soak City, which I remember from when the park was still WaterWorks. The line for Tornado was long and the thought of lugging the long tube up the steps was overwhelming as the day drew to a close for RFM’s worn-out review crew.
Soak City has lockers for non-swim belongings while you play. This might be an option for families. To save money, these teens chose to stash their clothes, sunscreen, etc. and carry the bags from ride to ride. They agreed that the cubbies by each ride make this procedure a no-brainer for teens who don’t have a parent along with them in the park.
Because one of the best things about Kings Dominion is its two-parks-for-one-price set-up, and because they did have a roller coaster freak in their midst, these guys did find time to ride Shock Wave (well, one of them did!) on the way out. This is the stand-up coaster that’s scheduled to close later this season. Volcano was another must-ride coaster, but for all of three of the girls. Volcano was declared the best ride in the park. For nostalgic purposes, they also stopped by Planet Snoopy. My daughter remembers it as Kidzville, and she said it looks as fun as it did almost a decade ago. Sigh.
Reviewed by Karen with help from Bailey, Lindsey, and Sarah.