Summer is rapidly coming to an end, and we asked the kids — where was the #1 place they wanted to go for a Saturday day trip? They all chose Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge, NY. We’ve been there a couple of times before, and it’s always been fun.
Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks opened in 1956, with the first amusement ride added in 1984, and the first water slides constructed in 1988. By 1991, the name changed to Enchanted Forest Water Safari.
It’s a huge water park that has rides for all ages – teens and little ones – along with a wave pool, and carnival-type rides for people who don’t want to get wet. There are lots of places in the park to buy good eats and drinks, and ice cream and cotton candy. And, best of all, they allow you to bring your own cooler, so you can pack a picnic, and eat at the many different picnic areas.
We had packed strategically. We wanted to travel light, yet have everything we needed. We packed a large duffle bag filled with a swimsuit, towel, and hoodie for each kid (and me), along with a bunch of plastic grocery bags. We also had a large backpack stuffed full of water bottles, Band-Aids, sunscreen, and Kleenex. Lastly we had a large grocery bag packed with food and snacks that didn’t require refrigeration: peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, granola bars, fruit chews, apples, popchips, and a butter knife.
Old Forge is located in northern New York, in the Adirondacks. It’s a long drive from practically anywhere, but a beautiful drive through the tall pines of the Adirondack Park.
It’s a 3 hour cruise for us, so we planned to leave at 8 a.m. Even though we packed our swim gear and picnic lunch the night before, we still couldn’t get out the driveway until 9. We took our TomTom along, plugged in the destination, and it navigated for us.
The weather was supposed to be 77 degrees and sunny, so we all wore shorts and flip flops. But, when we arrived at around noon, it was only 63 degrees, with a breeze. Brrrr. So chilly! We had packed light, but fortunately had brought hoodies for the kids, and had 3 small fleece blankets in the car. I was a little worried, but we were here and going to make the best of it.
We pulled in to find a parking spot in their huge parking lot. It was so crowded! More people were there than I had ever seen. We ended up parking way in the back, quite a walk away. We grabbed our bags, locked the car, and headed up and around to the front.
Even though it was crowded around the entrance, the line to get in was short. Ticket prices are: $26.95 for kids (children age 3-11), and $29.95 for adults (age 12 and over); children and 2 and under are free. And there’s tax. With 6 of us, it cost just under $200. There are no reduced price tickets for people that don’t want to ride the water rides – everyone pays to get in, as there is so much to do in the park. You can buy your tickets online ahead of time, and save $1/ticket. Also, you can have your hand stamped if you need to leave the park, and then re-enter for free. In case you need to run to your car.
We immediately headed past the giant Paul Bunyan statue to the large central building that holds the changing and bath rooms and lockers. Girls go upstairs, entering on the left; guys go downstairs, entering on the right.
I handed each kid a plastic grocery sack with their swimsuit, and told them to change and then give me back the bag filled with their regular clothes. I took my girl, and dad took the boys. Then we met up again and stuffed their clothes bags into the big duffle bag.
Now, time to hit the water rides!
Water Safari is a huge park, with several distinct areas, so be sure to get a map when you buy your ticket. Each area has both teen and big kid rides, and little kid rides, along with plenty of comfortable seating.
To get between areas, there are paved walking paths, so you will need flip flops, or your feet will get sore or torn up.
It’s a little tricky knowing which way to go, but follow the signs, and with a little walking around it’s pretty easy to get where you want.
While there are no steps / stairs in the entire park, a few of the walkways are pretty steep, and would be tough to manage with a stroller or wheelchair. But, there’s more than 1 path to get anywhere, so you may choose to go the longer way around to get there.
Most of the water rides have height limits – your kid must be a certain height to be able to ride the attraction; some rides little kids can go on if accompanied by an adult.
Front of park:
The Shadow – large exciting tall, green curvy enclosed water slide – big kids (over 42”), teens, adults.
Walter’s Wild Slide – small, straight, water slide – little kids (under 48”).
Pygmy Kiddie Slides and Pond – water slides with small curves – little kids (under 54 inches).
Raging Rapids – exciting water slide on a solo tube, with big curves and drops – big kids (over 42”), teens, adults
Curse of the Silverback – exciting water slide on a double tube, leading to big “toilet bowl” – teens (over 48”), adults.
Killermanjaro – thrilling (over 30 mph) big drop water chute, lay on your back with your arms on your chest – teens (over 42”), adults.
Serengeti Surf Hill – large, wide water slide on foam mats – big kids (over 48”), teens, adults.
Middle of park:
Lake Nakura – swim area with water obstacle course – big kids (over 42”).
Bombay Blasters – large straight enclosed water slide, with a drop at the end into a pool – big kids (over 42”), teens.
Nairobi Narrows – large, straight open water slide, with a drop at the end into a pool – big kids (over 42”), teens.
Safari River Expeditions – lazy river ride on single tubes – small children with adult, little kids (under 36”), big kids (over 36”); no min height.
Middle to back of the park:
The Amazon – large, curvy raft run on a 6 foot wide blue raft that seats up to 4; family tube ride – big kids (over 36”), teens, adults.
Tidal Wave Pool – 1/4 acre wave pool with heated water and lifeguards – small children with adult, big kids, teens, adults; no min height. Pool alternates so waves are on for a bit, then off for a bit. (Watch your little ones when the waves start, as it’s super easy to get dragged under the water.)
Back of the park:
Black River – large exciting curvy black enclosed waterslide, on a double tube – big kids (over 42”), teens, adults.
Rondaxe Run – large exciting curvy tan open waterslide, on a double tube – big kids (over 42”), teens, adults.
Cascade Falls – large curvy raft run on an 8 foot wide yellow raft that seats up to 5; family tube ride – big kids (over 36”), teens, adults.
Log Jammer – large lazy river / mini wave pool ride on your choice of clear double tubes or single tubes – big kids (over 42”), teens, adults. So relaxing. A current pulls you along, and there is a small wave pool off to the side in one section.
Saw Mill – playground type water attraction with small slides – small children with adult, little kids (under 36”). There is a giant log on the top that fills with water, so when you hear the alarm sound, it means it’s about to dump!
Time to get wet!
We started in the back of the park, as that’s our favorite section. Although it was crowded, because it was chilly, lines were short or nonexistent for the water rides. So, the kids kicked off their flip flops, grabbed double tubes and headed up to the big twin water slides Black River/Rondax Run. My son#1 cut the bottom of his foot somehow, and was bleeding a bit, so we kept trying to bandage it up.
After a couple of runs on the twin slides, they headed over to Cascade Falls, where all 4 of them could ride together.
More bandaging. Tough to get them to stick with so much wet.
Then we headed to the middle of the park. They rode the Amazon a couple of times. The lines were so short, it was great! On the 2nd run down, son#1’s swim trunks ripped completely out. Seriously. What to do!? Only thing we could – he headed to the restroom and changed into his shorts. Life lesson: you’ve got to be flexible and innovative.
Put another Band-Aid on, and back to riding.
2 of the boys went to ride the Silverback, and 2 went to ride Raging Rapids. They rode again and again, but the breeze was brisk in the front of the park, and we were all starting to freeze.
We headed to the front of the park and 3 of the kids rode The Shadow. My girl came off and had to sit down, holding her head, and thought she was going to throw up. My boys said the ride was more intense than they thought it would be. We bought some cotton candy, and took a short break.
We headed back to the Wave Pool, which was heated (yay!), and the kids swam and jumped and played for a long time, and warmed up. I was impressed by how the 4 lifeguards stood while the waves were on, and sat while the waves were off. Definitely nice to see them paying such close attention. Wave pools can be tricky with little ones, as suddenly the water is way over their heads when a wave hits, and the waves tend to drag the little ones in deeper. The Wave Pool is 4.5 feet deep at its deepest, but when the waves are on, they are easily 2 foot high waves coming and going.
We then headed back to ride the lazy river Log Jammer, which is one our favorite rides, as we can all be together and it’s fun to relax and float, or to chase each other slowly. But, the water was chilly, so the kids only made 2 laps, then they were out. They rode the twin slides Black River/Rondaxe Run a few more times, then Cascade Falls. Then we took a break to eat. Treated the kids to Walk In Tacos and Icees. (Ironic: it’s so chilly out, and the kids want Icees…)
Luckily I had brought the fleece blankets from the car, so instead of shivering in wet cold towels, they had warm and dry fleece.
After eating we watched a little bit of the circus, then headed to the front of the park. The kids were pretty exhausted by now, after 5 hours of walking up to each ride, riding, and swimming.
2 of the kids rode the Silverback a few more times, but they were tired, and the tube flipped on them, and son#3 got smacked hard in the face with the tube. Son#2 just wanted to sit on a bench and rest, and my girl rode the Raging Rapids over and over and over, until we said we had to go.
We headed back to the locker rooms, to dry off and change out of our wet stuff. Son #3 had nothing dry to wear, so we improvised and let him wear my shorts. Which meant I had to wear my swimsuit for the long ride home, which was fine, as it was so chilly I hadn’t gotten in the water. For the first time ever, the kids were old enough to ride without adults going along. So, we got to sit and watch. And relax. And huddle together for warmth.
The locker rooms are huge, with changing rooms along one side, and bathroom stalls along the other side, banks of small lockers you can rent in the middle, and sinks along the front wall. They are rustic, but clean and spacious, and there was an attendant constantly tidying up while we were there.
Headed to the car, cleaned everyone’s hands with Purell, gave everyone a water bottle, and settled in for the long drive home.
Just as we left the parking lot around 6 pm, the rain started. It rained harder and harder, and didn’t stop until almost 3 hours later as we were nearing home. I thanked heaven that the rain held out all day until we left.
Old Forge is a charming little touristy village, with many small restaurants and cafes, along with places to buy ice cream or hot dogs. There’s a Subway right around the corner from the water park, and supposedly a Pizza Hut Express nearby. Some of the restaurants get pretty crowded, so if you have a large party it can be tough to get a table. There are also lots of little shops to explore.
We were going to stop at Subway, but the kids voted to stop at a McDonald’s for some warm cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets, and some hot chocolate. Plus, I had given my dry clothes to son#1, so I was wearing my swimsuit and a blanket. Not really going-out-to-dinner wear. Drive thru was a must. There is no McDonald’s in Old Forge, but using the TomTom we were able to locate one on the way home, in Rome, about an hour away. The hot chocolate was warm and delicious, I didn’t have to get out of the car, and the kids got to use the bathroom there, so it was a good choice.
The kids were all worn out, but happy, and they all said they had fun. Even son#1, who had to deal with some unexpected difficulties.
We debated whether we would have preferred warmer weather and long lines, or the chilly weather with short lines. We all agreed that short lines were the best! And so it all worked out.
Water Park Tips:
- Wear flip flops. Leave your flip flops at the bottom of the ride, get in line for the ride, ride the ride, then pick up your flip flops when you get off the ride, and head to the next ride.
- Don’t rent a tube. It’s your choice, though. You can rent tubes for $6 (with $1 refund if you return your tube). But, then you have to keep track of it. And it’s easy to go without renting. Many rides don’t require tubes. For a couple rides, you have to wait in 1 line for a tube, then you walk up to the ride. For Black River/Rondaxe you have to wait in 1 line for a tube, then you walk up to wait in 2nd line for the ride.
- Bring your own water. I couldn’t find any drinking fountains in the park, and it’s important to stay hydrated. There are plenty of places to buy water, lemonade, and other drinks in the park for $3-4 each.
- Bring your own food. And your own cooler. If you want to save money. (No glass allowed.) You can even bring charcoal and barbeque. But plan on buying some food there, just for fun – prices are pretty reasonable. How often do you get to buy carnival-type food! We bought the Walk In Tacos (taco in a Doritos bag) for $5, a large Icee for $3.50, a big bag of cotton candy for $3, and deep fried Oreos – 3 for $3.50. We wanted to try the fried dough, but ran out of time.
- Bring sunscreen. And Band-Aids.
- If you have little kids, bring a stroller or a wagon to help carry your gear.
- Use the buddy system with your kids, and arrange for a meeting spot if you get separated.
- As always with any amusement park outing with kids, take a photo of each of your kids when you enter the park, so if your child gets lost you have a recent photo of them to use in the search. (And hope you don’t need it!)
- Plan on not being able to wear footwear, jewelry, or glasses/sunglasses on many of the water rides. I always bring a small fanny pack to hold my car key, some cash in a Ziplok baggie, and a hard plastic glasses case for my glasses. When I reach the top of the wait line, right before I get on the ride, I take off my glasses and pack them up. Then, when I reach the end of the ride, I can get them out quickly. You can rent a small locker for $5, plus a $5 key deposit.
More tips here.
Our favorite things about Enchanted Forest Water Safari?
The water rides: Cascade Falls, Amazon River, Raging Rapids, Black River, Rondaxe Run, Tidal wave pool, and Log Jammer lazy river were our favorites.
The food: Walk In Tacos.
Everything. It’s old fashioned, family fun. Well organized, well staffed, well maintained.
What could have been better at Enchanted Forest Water Safari?
My youngest went on some rides that were a bit too thrilling for her.
No complaints. We had a memorable, fun time.
How much it cost us:
- Admission tickets – 6 adults, $29.95 each, plus tax – $195
- Food (in park) – about $40
- Food (McDonald’s for breakfast/coffee – $25; dinner/hot cocoa – $56) – $81
- Gas – about $68.
- Grand total: around $384, for 1 fun filled Saturday for a family of 6.
What if I don’t want to get wet? Non water rides:
There are lots of non- water amusement park / carnival rides and attractions, for all ages, none of which we had time to try. There are no roller coasters. There are:
- Bumper Cars
- Enchanted Forest Express train ride
- Ferris Wheel
- Sky Ride
- Carnival rides
They put on an old fashioned 1 ring circus show, included in price of admission. It’s small, but fun and free. I believe the show is daily – the day we were there it was at 4 pm:
“2014 Family Circus Line-Up! This year we will be featuring Mike & Debbie Winn as the Skymasters performing on the Sway Poles, Giant Wheel of Destiny & an Aerial Motorcycle on High Wire! Plus, the Amazing Alvarez Family performing the Teeterboard Acts, Rola Bola and the single trapeze swing! Be sure not to miss this amazing show!”
Water Safari also offers:
Paul Bunyan BBQ – all you can eat BBQ in the park
The day we were there they offered an all-you-can-eat BBQ from 5-6:30 pm at the Tidal Wave Picnic Grove. $14.95 for adults, $7.95 kids 3-11, free for kids 2 and under (plus tax) – and you get all-you-can-eat BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, beverages, roasted corn on the cob, salads, baked beans, fresh watermelon. We’ve never tried it, but it would be convenient, and it’s a nice option.
Siesta Savings – if you’re arriving late in the day and staying overnight
“Enter the park after 3:00pm (2:00pm on days we open at 10:00am) with any type of ticket (Prepaid, Internet, General Admission, etc.) and get the next day FREE!”
Paul Bunyan Club – if you’re going more than 1 day. I believe the fee is $3/person.
“After you’ve entered the park, become a member of our Paul Bunyan Club. Membership can be obtained for a nominal fee and entitles guests to return to the park for half price as many times as they’d like for the balance of the current operating season. Each guest must be present to purchase membership and have their photo taken. Half price return tickets for members are purchased at the admission gates only.”
Splash Cash – for convenience:
“Load money on to Splash Cash cards or waterproof wristband & use throughout the day as payment everywhere in Enchanted Forest Water Safari, Calypso’s Cove, Old Forge Camping Resort, and Water’s Edge Inn. Purchase, reload or redeem at all locations! Get unused money back at the end of your visit at Guest Services, Admissions or Locker Keys.”
Calypso’s Cove – Go-karts, bumper boats, rock climbing, zip lines, mini golf, arcade, and more.
“Calypso’s Cove Family Fun Center, located right next door to Enchanted Forest Water Safari, offers the area afternoon and evening entertainment at an affordable price. Admission to Calypso’s Cove is free. Each attraction requires one ticket.”
Water’s Edge Inn – year round hotel across the street from Water Safari, offering guest rooms, suites, and rental vacation house. Facilities include a small, seasonal indoor heated pool, a dry sauna, fitness center and more.
Old Forge Camping Resort – year-round campground, offering log cabin, cottage, and vacation house rentals, along with RV and tent camping.
With so much to do, you could spend the whole day at Enchanted Forest Water Safari, and still not do everything. It’s a well maintained, old-fashioned family amusement and water park with plenty of things to do. Whether you have little ones in strollers, bigger kids full of energy, or a group of teens that want to be on their own, there are fun activities for all ages. Whether you want to get wet or stay dry, or find something to eat, there’s plenty to do and explore. There are places to sit out in the sun, and lots of shady places to stop and rest and relax.
Definitely worth the trip! Can’t wait to go again next year.
Have you been to Enchanted Forest Water Safari? How was it? What’s your favorite thing?