You know that dream where you’re shopping, and everything in the store is amazing, and really cheap, and you keep saying, “Why have I never shopped here before? Does everyone know about this store but me?”
That’s Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, WI.
How could I be a Wisconsin native and never have heard of this place?
It all began about 2 years ago at preschool graduation. “We’re taking the kids up to Bay Beach tomorrow.” “Oh, fun! We love Bay Beach!”
Then again at the salon. “You know what your kids would love? Bay Beach! We go at least twice a year!”
But, I was gun shy. For one thing, it’s in Green Bay, which seems like a really long drive.
And normally, when we go to a famous Wisconsin attraction or event, it’s not all that. Take Summerfest, for example, whose motto is, “Watch out for vomit.” And State Fair, which smells like pigs – dead and alive – all mixed together.
In fact, when I tell the kids we’re going somewhere in the car, they ask, “We’re not going to the dinosaur museum, are we?” because of the Dinosaur Museum Debacle of ’12.
I wasn’t going to let another summer go by without seeing this. My friends were beginning to say, You’ve NEVER BEEN!? NO!!! YOU HAVE TO GO!” and clawing at their faces. It was too much.
Damn those jaded kids… “We’re going to Bay Beach,” I said …and, off we went! (Theme song here!)
Here’s my review: first of all, the drive wasn’t that bad. It was very lovely, in fact, and not even that long. Okay, it was downright bucolic, especially if you like looking at farms and smelling that dairy air.
Secondly, there was this legend floating around that Bay Beach is extremely inexpensive. “All the rides cost a quarter!” they said.
Well, like all legends, that’s only partly true. TICKETS for rides are $0.25, but any decent kid ride costs multiple tickets. So, bumper cars were $0.75, the Zippin’ Pippin was $1. Still… we bought 80 tickets, stayed 5 hours and went home with 16 tickets in our pockets. Not too shabby!
We didn’t even pay for parking. Just moseyed on in. (Don’t get any ideas, Green Bay.)
But, it’s a public city park! Isn’t it, you know, kinda grimy?
Surprisingly not. The bathrooms were CLEAN and NICE. (I wouldn’t do surgery in them, but the stalls were in tact, the toilets were clean, soap, hand dryers, the whole 9 yards*.) The staff was really friendly – we’re talking high school- and college-age public servants, so they didn’t even have to be! The rides were in good condition! Each one had a placard which told you when it was purchased to avoid the, “I’ll bet this thing is fifty years old” argument.
*Football reference. Ahthankyou…
A tangent: when you have 2 kids, you have 1 Big Kid and 1 Baby. The big kid will never want to go on the “baby” rides, and the Baby will always be tentative about trying more adventurous things. Eventually, the Baby will try them (after the Big Kid comes out unscathed), but you can’t push it because of the possibility of a “meltdown.”
My daughter had to ride everything first and weather some
extremely stupid rides before my son would try them.
But she got over it when we rode the Scrambler, the Pippin, and the Yo Yo. (Best ride ever, IMHO.) This is the perfect place if you have kids from 0-12. After that, it’s all Sea Dragon & Zippin’ Pippin, which probably gets old pretty fast. So, there are no roving gangs of tweens or teens – another bonus! (Sorry, friends with teens and tweens. I’m not talking about your kids. They’re great.)
The only bad experience was in the “restaurant” (actually a charming building from 1892) where no one seemed bothered that a self-serve chicken sandwich took 17 minutes. I can totally live with that – most people picnic.
So, here’s what we spent: $25 on gas (we used a whole tank there and back), $13 on food, and $20 on tickets, but we only used $16 worth. No worries, we’re going back!
It’s not a dream, it’s real!