We visited Birch Bay Waterslides in August 2014 and all the kids with me (14, 13, 11, 8) enjoyed it very much. There are 4 slides on one hill, a separate area with a raft slide and short body slide, and a third area with the kiddie pools and slides and the Black Hole tower slides. We had also visited theme parks in california, and this park seems so low key and uncrowded in comparison, although we visited on a Friday. My youngest two had never been to a water park and they picked it up quite quickly, and said it equalled or exceeded the theme parks in California -- they went on slides many many many times and that was one of this parks strengths . . .
PROS: Slides are mostly in one area. After the kids are acclimated it is easy to find a place to observe/read and watch while they have fun and get wet (only if the kids are old enough/responsible enough of course). There are some tables and areas with shade and PLENTY of chairs although most are in the sun. All the slides are fun, and even the blacked out one (the Black Hole) isn't too scary. My 8 year old was a little nervous but after a couple trips on each slide decided that he could manage by himself. Park allows outside food and drink, at least as of August 2014, which is a blessing. Lockers are available, and only cost $3 to rent for the day. Climbing stairs gives everyone lots of good exercise in between sliding down (and gorgeous views of Birch Bay from the platforms). In the morning there were practically no lines, and even after noon the lines were minimal and moved quite quickly. Lots of opportunity to repeat favorite slides. Basic upkeep seemed fine - they were trimming blackberries along fencelines, and grass was mowed and all basic safety precautions seemed to be taken. In the pools at the bottom of the slides there were always lifeguards with floatation devices and they were alert and aware of what was going on.
CONS: It doesn't have the gloss and sparkle of many larger parks. The employees are just teenagers doing their jobs and may or may not be outgoing, paint is worn, and lots of cost cutting seems to be the main theme. Paint was worn on the cinderblock buildings, bathrooms could have used several cleanings in the middle of a busy Friday. There was a yellow jacket bee nest in one slide and when my kids commented on it to one of the staff they said there was no money to take care of it (which may be the staff persons error, but doesn't speak well for the company that they would say that). Some of the slides have pools which are hard to navigate without getting out of the raft, which you aren't supposed to do. The black hole slide requires a staff person to manually push start you, which seems like a lot of work for them. All of the slides have long stairways, so there aren't many if any options for those who cannot handle stairs.
TIPS: Go at opening. The water is heated and it was 73 when we arrived, and no one was cold. We were ready to leave by 3, when a lot of people come to get the reduced entrance fee and lines were longer. If you come at opening you can also pile your stuff on one of the tables with an umbrella which is nice in the hot afternoons. Bring water as they ran out of botted water at the concession stand, and bring lunch unless you want to order a pizza from their restaurant. Sunblock is a necessity as there is very little shade.
We will go to this park again! It was a great place to enjoy a water adventure and it was cheap enough to make the lack of frills and sometimes unimpressive staff/upkeep not an issue. My kids were thrilled and loved it. I don't think they even noticed that the frills were missing! :)
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