Posted Jul 31, 2018
When most people in Northern Virginia hear Bull Run Regional Park, they conjure images of the Festival of Lights. Let me challenge that….think summer…think water park. What? A water park is there. Most definitely, yes! I’ll admit that I have driven past the Atlantis Waterpark a few times thinking it looks run down and small. Well, I was surprised to find out that behind that gate was a terrific time, and an amazing splash pad!
Actually, it’s more like: one awesome splash-pad, two large water slides for the bigger kiddos, a zero entrance wading pool for the babies (with one very small slide), a huge sand pit for the diggers and builders, and a giant pool with an island and a couple of slides. The lifeguards were vigilant, and there was even one lifeguard constantly walking around the splash-pad structure.
The locker rooms are pretty basic but there are a set of lockers, one pull down changing table, and a bunch of showers. After passing through, my son (age 4) ran straight for the splash pad and explored there for quite some time. I should qualify, this isn’t some little silly splash pad, and plenty of older siblings were running around with their younger siblings having a blast.
My son loved the water slides (they dump out onto a nice squishy pad).
He was delighted when he realized he could turn some of the valves on and off to regulate the amount of water spraying from some of the zones.
After a little hesitation, he waited for the large, and I mean LARGE, water bucket to dump…and it was instant joy! We spent a lot of time waiting for the three bells to ring and that bucket to dump.
When we weren’t at the splash-pad we were in the main pool. They have it roped off into 3 ft, 4 ft and 5 ft sections. I will say that the water level seemed a little deeper so be aware before you set the kiddos free. There is a small slide into the shallow section, and an island in the 4-foot pool area that has two different slides. It was a ton of fun for every kid (and kid at heart)! The two larger water slides are height restricted - 48 inches. Though we didn’t ride them, a bunch of kids gave me thumbs up and said the wait wasn’t that long.
The infant wading pool is age restricted (6 and under) and set back from the other facilities. It looked like lots of fun for the little kiddos; but if you have a family with a wide age range you would not be able to monitor your other children in the big pool or the splash pad from where it is located.
The sand pit is adjacent to the wading pool and there is a small shower there to rinse off before re-entering any of the pools.
Last, but not least, Neptune’s Reef is a small snack bar with the typical burgers, chicken tenders, hot dogs, fries, pizza, drinks and ice cream. There is no indoor seating but the outdoor picnic tables have large umbrellas. There really isn’t anywhere close-by to grab a bite to eat so the only other option is to pack a picnic and enjoy eating somewhere else in the park. Towards the front of the park is a great playground; but beware it gets no shade and bakes in the sun. There is a small replica civil war winter encampment for the kids to look into across from the playground, too!
A few notes of caution:
- Don’t forget the sunscreen! Shade is available here and there under some umbrellas, if you luck out.
- No outside food or drink (you can bring in a water bottle) is allowed in the waterpark. If you have a food allergic kiddo, like me, it is big bummer. We packed a small picnic, but there aren’t picnic tables so bring a blanket to chill out under a tree.
- If you have them, bring your own life vests for the little ones as much of the water is over 3.5 feet. The facility does have a rack of them when you exit the locker rooms, but they run out quick.
- When the large bucket dumps there is quite a force. I did see some little toddlers get swept off their feet if they were passing at the wrong moment. There are three bells that ring, but with all the sounds from the water it gets drowned out.
- Swimsuits are required; swim diapers if not potty trained.
- QUARTERS…Don’t forget the quarters if you are going to be using the lockers.
I would say that 4-12ish is the ideal age range for the park, and a family could easily spend 3-5 hours (depending on their attention span) enjoying the different areas. Now, go make some summer memories at Bull Run Regional Park!
~ Heather Linen
Heather is a member of CertifiKID's MOM Squad Ambassador program. She was given free admission to Atlantis Waterpark in exchange for her honest review.
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