Living in Richmond, VA provides our family and so many others with endless opportunities for fun within a quick drive. As a mom of 2 little guys and a 3rd on the way anytime now, I ignored my friends and family when they reminded me to sign up for a preschool pass for Kings Dominion because I only used the preschool pass at Busch Gardens once the summer prior. I had a lot of excuses – “I don’t want to pay for my adult pass, I am 35 weeks pregnant, I don’t know if I can handle it on my own with the boys.” I caved and headed to the park to redeem our Pre-K pass before the June deadline and I am THRILLED I didn’t miss this opportunity.
- What is a Pre – K pass? It’s designed for kids ages 3-5 in Virginia. First, you must register online at kingsdominion.com when the registration window opens to fill in basic info about your kid, then the park provides a activation deadline you will head in person to the park’s season pass processing center along with your child and their identification. You will receive the Pre-K Pass at the park’s season pass processing center once proper identification is shown proving your child’s date of birth and have your child’s picture taken for their pass. The entire process to get the pass took 10 minutes at most. EASY PEASY!
- What pass is best for parents? Since Grayson is under 3, he is free. Palmer’s preschool pass was free. I just had to figure out which pass was best for me to purchase: Silver, Gold, or Platinum. I went with the Gold Pass for a few reasons: FREE parking. Parking costs 20$ a car typically, so going one time basically made that built in cost worth it. It also includes free Dinosaurs Alive, free unlimited visits to Halloween Haunt, and free unlimited visits to WinterFest. Basically, I paid 129.99 and can go to the park an unlimited amount until December 29, 2018 with my kiddos. They have great payment plans as well, which makes the price more reasonable for budgeting purposes and you frugal parents out there. I calculated the breakdown – if I went to the park 2 times during the 2018 season my pass would pay for itself compared to purchasing daily admission. We have already gone 5 times since June, so mission accomplished.
- What else do you need during visits with little ones: Buy an Unlimited Refill Cup. This is the one item I would purchase in addition to your pass. It costs 29.99 but you can refill every 15 minutes at refresh stations around the entire park for free. On hot summer days, we refill at least 8-10 times to keep the kiddos and ourselves hydrated. We use the cup at the pool and around town at the playground too, it’s great!
My biggest concern about taking two little kids to Kings Dominion with my big ‘ol belly at this stage in pregnancy was that it would be extremely difficult to manage. My concerns were thrown out of the window during that first visit. Parking is free with the adult Gold Pass, which I purchased. You have your own gated lot conveniently situated right by the entrance and picnic area which makes it easy to get right up to the check in area. We can roll the stroller through the detector, let the staff check our book bag, and check in with the Kings Dominion Mobile App. The Mobile App is awesome because you can find the closest food, drink refill station, bathroom, check wait times for rides, and find your way around. You also don’t need to search your bag or wallet for your card to check in, its all saved on the app for scanning and ease when you arrive.
Navigating the park: My kiddos are 4 and 2, so I still take the double BOB stroller wherever we go because they get tired after a long day of fun. I can fit our cooler, swimsuits/extra clothes, towels, and snacks on the stroller and we are ready to go. Taking the stroller isn’t a hassle during check in or around the park either. My sister uses her sports utility wagon and hasn’t had a problem using that to get around the park either. Oh and the best part – KD is sure to exhaust even the most rambunctious of kiddos. Enjoy a relaxing and quiet drive home while your little ones nap! (Now that’s worth a million dollars!)
Now onto the fun part:
- What can you do with kiddos under 5 at Kings Dominion? I get this question a lot from other parents. They are skeptical as I was about whether there is really enough to do to capture the attention of little ones for more than one visit. WOW, SO MUCH TO DO!
- Planet Snoopy – Can easily spend an entire day here – 20 rides available, most suitable for even your littlest guest! We love going during the week when there are NO lines and the kids can walk right up and get on for multiple rides before hopping off. There is a large covered pavilion with tables for resting and eating lunch or snacks!
- Dinosaurs Alive – Walk along a shaded path filled with 43 interactive LIFE SIZED dinosaurs and information. Our favorite part is the Dino Dig area where the kids can explore a massive sand area with fossils hidden below. It’s a good break from the rides and if you have dino lovers like I do – it’s a sure fire hit to admire the 20-30 feet tall dino’s lurking in the trees!
- Soak City – The Splash pad is impressive. The kids could spend hours running through the various elements and going down the slide. On a really warm day, it’s the perfect place to escape the heat and cool down. The lazy river and wave pool are available too but we tend to stick to the two splash areas because it’s more contained and geared towards little ones.
- Shows – Break up the day by stopping and watching a show. Cute interactive music and dancing with characters is a good short rest opportunity.
I would not recommend trying to hit all 3 areas in one day, unless you are feeling extra adventurous. We typically pick one or two per visit to do to keep it simple and stress free.
But, the best hidden gem for parents of young kids is the Family Care Center. Its conveniently situation in Planet Snoopy and is dreamy and I mean DREAMY for parents of young kids. Its air conditioned and boasts an art easel, a television and toys for a much needed break. There are two large family restrooms that you entire crew can fit in plus stroller. There are rocking chairs, high chairs, and areas for nursing moms as well as changing stations, a refrigerator, and sinks to use. I have never seen such a well laid out area for a family to go when a little one needs to be changed, fed, or rocked that allows for siblings to play and parents to be comfortable. This is by far the most impressive part of Kings Dominion in relation to being a mom of multiple young kids. You can also find wrist bands where you can fill in key information for your little one should he/she be separated from you in the park. Knowing I can access this center when we add baby 3 to the mix in a few weeks makes me feel even less nervous and glad I decided to snag our passes.
If you are on the fence about a preschool pass for your 3-5 year old, are intimidated about navigating park as a parent of little ones, don’t despair. It’s clean, well laid out, and there are friendly staff around every turn. Set your reminders to snag a preschool pass for next year if you didn’t get one this year. If you did – say hi when you see my crew at KD this year!
Oh and PS – if you see me waddling slowly around KD for the next 5 weeks. Sorry, slow and steady wins the race these days!