Our family kicked off summer 2017 with a vacation to Prince Edward Island and, by all accounts, it was a resounding success. I didn’t think we could top last year’s adventure to New Hampshire with Storyland, but this morning Miss M (five years old) told me that she loves PEI more than Halifax. Whoa, there, little girl, let’s not get carried away!
We took the ferry across on a hot summer day. We packed a picnic lunch to eat on the deck and, as we got closer to the red shores, we all enjoyed watching the jellyfish dance a greeting around the boat.
If you grew up in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, it’s almost a given that you made the trek to PEI for vacation at least once, if not annually. It’s close by, it’s packed with great family activities, and there’s simply something magical about going to an Island, especially this one known for Anne with an E and their sandy ocean beaches.
We were there for a week and had a jam-packed schedule that included some amazing playgrounds, beaches, and bike rides. We were also generously offered some day passes from the good people at Maritime Fun Group to check out Sandspit Amusement Park and Shining Waters Family Fun Park and these parks were, without a doubt, the highlight of the trip for the kids.
Our first full day on the Island we headed to Sandspit Amusement Park in Cavendish.
This was actually Miss M's second visit here. Her first was when she was only ten months old and we had lots of fun with her even at that age, I remember she particularly loved the train and the carousel.
This time we were back with an "almost four year old" (Mr M) and an "almost six year old" (Miss M). I hadn’t been sure if the parks would have enough rides for my wee ones (literally, they’re “petite” for their age with Miss M clocking in at just over 42” and Mr M just over 36”) but I needn’t have worried.
There are plenty of rides for little kids. Our two were able to go on all but a couple rides either by themselves or with a parent, and that they did! Entry to the park is free though so you can go in and check things out first before deciding how many tickets you want to buy, or if a day pass is better value for your family. All rides and games (except the playground/ball room) require tickets or a bracelet.
As parents we loved that our kids didn't need to miss out on the "big rides," like the ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl, bumper boats and the bumper cars, as they could go along with us for the fun.
I also loved that while there are lots of rides, it's in a fairly small geographically sized space which meant the kids didn't get worn out from walking for miles - though I'm sure we covered the space three times or more criss-crossing back and forth to rides!
We took a chill-out day at Stanhope beach and some local playgrounds in between but the next day we were off to Shining Waters Family Fun Park for the first time for all of us.
This park is much bigger than I realized it was and I'd recommend you plan to spend a full day here as well. For little ones I'd also suggest bringing a stroller or wagon (and lots of water). Even Mr M's energizer bunny legs started to wear out after several hours of exploring in the heat.
We spent the morning doing the "dry sections" such as Storybook Land, Buccaneer Bay, Bandit's Barnyard, and Discovery Woods. I was shocked and horrified to discover that my kids don't know who Jack and Jill was though! They kept asking me what happened to the kids, and where Jack's "crown" was (after I said the rhyme to them). Clearly I need to go back to the basics and teach these kids some nursery rhymes - how embarrassing!
The park has been in operation for about a decade. Some of the attractions have clearly been around for a long time, but everything was well-maintained and we found it charming in its simplicity and enjoyed the classic fun of attractions like the Topsy Turvy Cabin and the Rockin' Rocket Ship, which we did over and over. The Buccaneer Bay Bullet was also a big hit with both of the kids (and Mr. M's first time on a roller coaster!). It's truly geared towards little kids with only a couple rides they were too small for.
After lunch we changed into our swimsuits and hit the Shining Springs Waterpark section. They have large change rooms (but small coin lockers) so pack lightly if you can. Also, pro tip, kids who can't swim need to wear life jackets in the pool (which they supply several of) and puddle jumpers/arm floaties are not allowed. Yes, we were the people dragging two puddle jumpers around all afternoon because we didn't check first.
Both kids LOVED Turtle Cove. It's like a splash park, wading pool, and kiddie water slide park all in one spot. There is also the regular pool for swimming and the bigger water slides right beside it so there's no shortage of ways to cool off! It was the perfect way to end our day at Shining Waters Family Fun Park.
By the time we headed across the bridge back home on Friday we felt like we'd crammed a month's worth of vacation into one week... although Miss M is already planning for our next trip back as soon as possible.
Thanks to Maritime Fun Group for providing our family with complimentary day passes at both parks so we can share our experiences with other families. All opinions, as always, are our own.