Return To The Water Park: Getting Value For Our Meal

value for meals, waterpark food, frugal food

As I packed the car, I reminded myself that I promised I would never do it again.

My family and I are returning today from a mini-vacation to our favorite water park destination. When we last visited in January, We spent close to $50 on crappy food inside the hotel water park.

I had made up my mind to never again spend my hard earned money on soggy fries and weird tasting mini corn dogs.

On Monday, we found ourselves in a familiar situation. We had spent a long morning at the water park, and were ready for lunch. Remembering our past experience, we packed up our things for a short break, and piled into our mini-van to get some delicious Subway from across the street.

When we opened the door of the restaurant, we found it was completely packed and would have taken forever to get our food. Finding a place to sit down and eat would have been an additional challenge. We headed back to the hotel without a plan.

I had almost resigned myself to the reality that we would likely eat inside the water park.

On our way back to the water park, we walked by one of the hotel restaurants and decided to give it a try. The prices were a little expensive for what we wanted to pay for lunch, but by doing a little creative ordering we were able to bring our overall bill down:

  • My wife ordered chicken wings off the appetizer menu ($11)
  • I ordered pulled pork sliders off the appetizer menu ($8)
  • My son and his friend ordered a full rack of ribs dinner and split it ($25)

After drinks and tip our total bill came to about $60. That’s a little more expensive than our previous water park bill, but there was a huge difference:

Our food was actually good.

Perfectly cooked ribs, awesome pork sliders with cole slaw on top, honey mustard chicken wings vs a dried out hamburger, soggy french fries, and stale mini-corn dogs.

I don’t mind paying for good food, so I was satisfied with our lunch. It was, however, a little bit more than what we had wanted to pay for lunch.

But that’s a battle for the next trip.

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Good job!
    Saturday, we rented a van to pick my son up from camp 3 states away. (we had to pick up a couple of extra kids, and our vehicles both are too small and too old.) We left the camp noon-ish with 3 hungry Boy Scouts. Since my son has several food allergies, fast food is always out of the question, but he also hates feeling like an odd-ball, eating “different” food than his friends. We went to a local grocery store and purchased “safe” bread and cold cuts, chips and drinks. Everyone made themselves a sandwich, and we had leftovers, which we saved in the van’s awesome dashboard cooler. Total cost for food for 5 – $29.00 Definitely the way to go! And now I want a new van.

  • I would rather spend more money on good food than less money on terrible food. $60 isn’t bad for a meal for four people. My tactic has been to buy something that I know I won’t be able to eat the entire portion of and bring it home – 2 meals, one price!

  • @Cathie – wait, a dashboard cooler in a Van? We just bought a new van and didn’t even see that option in any of the models we looked at – that’s “cool!” LOL.

  • @Daisy – Totally agree – I don’t mind paying for good food. I also like to order big meals and take home the left overs. Sometimes I cut the food in half immediately and ask for a to go box. Otherwise I’m sure I’d eat it all. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • @Kate – thanks, friend – we did have a GREAT time! $60 isn’t bad…especially when you figure it’s a tourist vacation trap…but I think we’ll do better next time!

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