Saturday, February 23, 2013

Celebrating my Birthday at Castaway Bay

My 38th birthday came and went without mention here on the blog, and that's because my family was celebrating in Sandusky, Ohio. We were invited to a blogger event the night before at Castaway Bay, and decided to make a weekend out of it. The day of my birthday, we were invited to another blogger event in Sandusky, at Ghostly Manor Thrill Center. So as it turned out, we celebrated big this year!

I had Friday all planned out. I was going to pick the kids up from school an hour and a half early so we could arrive at Castaway Bay with time to spare before the event began. What's that saying about the best laid plans? Well, the kids had a snow day and Chris ended up being stuck at work. But it all ended up falling together. The kids were a big help to me as I scurried around, packing and preparing for our weekend away. And while we didn't arrive early as we had hoped, we did get to Castaway Bay just in time to drop our bags off in our room and rush downstairs to the blogger event.

Castaway Bay shipwreck in the lobby
Castaway Bay is Cedar Point's indoor water park resort, located just outside of the popular amusement park. It's decorated like a Caribbean island oasis, complete with a giant ship wreck in the lobby and animatronic parrots. It also shares Cedar Point's mascots: the Peanuts gang. The water park, which is kept at a constant 82 degrees, is obviously the main attraction. But Castaway Bay offers much more family fun!

At check-in, guests are given the Island Times, which is a list of resort activities that is published daily. There are plenty of free activities, such as character meet and greets, balloon animals, face painting, and movie time. Some activities have a fee; for example, coloring a Castaway Bay t-shirt, backpack, or towel. In addition, your kids probably won't want to skip visiting Crabbie's Quarterdeck Arcade, which has something for everyone. Even Mattie got in on the fun.

If you're feeling the need to get pampered, a visit to the Spa at Castaway Bay might be in order! Maybe you can relax with a pedicure or massage while your spouse does kid duty at the water park. Sounds heavenly, doesn't it? Other services offered include: manicures, facials, body treatments, hair treatments, make-up application, and waxing.

Castaway Bay is designed so that you never have to leave. Can I get three cheers for room service? Or you can begin your day with breakfast at Mango Mike's buffet style restaurant. Big Daddy's Snack Shack is located directly in the water park, and offers basic choices such as pizza, hot dogs, soft pretzels, and cold drinks. Ebb & Eddy's Island Sweets and Treats is your go-to spot for an ice cream cone or a Starbucks coffee. And finally, TGI Friday's is located just adjacent to the resort. Also keep in mind that each guest room is equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker. If I would have been better prepared, I would have packed food for breakfast and lunch and saved us a ton of money! This is a fantastic feature for a family-centered resort.

I love Bath & Body Works hotel toiletries!
We stayed in a Tarpon Suite, which was perfect for our family of six. In the main area we had a King bed, a television, and a desk. We also had a lovely balcony, with chairs, overlooking the bay. This would be wonderful during the warmer months! The balcony had a railing and was screened in from top to bottom, as an extra safety measure. The kids' room, housing two sets of bunk beds, a television, and a desk, was separated from the main area by a curtain in the doorway. These rooms also have a walk-in closet, leaving guests plenty of space to stash everyone's luggage. Our double sink was located outside of the bathroom, which is a feature I really appreciate in hotel rooms.

Castaway Bay birthday balloons and treasure chest.
I was surprised, upon walking into our room for the first time, to see a little treasure chest full of all sorts of goodies, such as snacks, bottles of water, and coloring books. And someone remembered it was my birthday, and left me a lovely bouquet of birthday balloons! That was such a nice, thoughtful touch! Castaway Bay definitely left a stupendous first impression!

Our first night, we had dinner with the other bloggers in attendance, then got to do some fun activities and meet Snoopy! As dinner was winding down, someone was walking around making balloon animals for all the kids. Then we headed across the hall to decorate cookies and color beach towels with fabric markers, two activities that are offered to guests of Castaway Bay. The best part of the evening was definitely meeting Snoopy. As we stood in line for our turn, Lucy was really nervous. She wasn't sure she wanted to meet him. But as soon as it was our turn, she literally ran into his arms and hugged him so tight. It was the cutest thing ever! She didn't want to let go of him, and kept talking about how perfectly soft and cuddly he was. I have to admit, she's right. Snoopy was the softest and cuddliest character I've ever met with my kids!

Look at Lucy loving on Snoopy!

By the time all of our fun activities were finished, Lucy and Mattie were getting pretty tired. I took them to the arcade for a short time before heading back to our room to get ready for bed. Meanwhile, Chris took Bethany and Connor to the water park. Sometimes the strategic divide and conquer parenting method is the only thing that works!

Lucy & Mattie, captivated by the arcade.
Saturday morning, we started  my birthday out right by ordering room service. Then we all hurried to get ready for the water park, where we stayed for the next few hours before breaking for lunch. We had lunch poolside at Big Daddy's Snack Shack and then went for birthday ice cream at Ebb & Eddy's. At that point, Mattie and Chris were ready for a nap, so the rest of us went exploring and hung out at the arcade for awhile. That evening, the little girls had their faces painted in the lobby before we headed out to nearby Ghostly Manor Thrill Center for another blogger event. I'll save that for another post!

When we returned to the resort after our foray to Ghostly Manor, Lucy was ready for bed. But the other kids were excited to get back to the water park. So again we divided and we conquered. I put Lucy to bed and Chris went down to play in the water with Bethany, Connor, and Mattie.

The next  morning, Chris ran out to get carry out breakfast from a fast food restaurant. We then packed up all of our stuff, took it out to the van, checked out, and returned to the water park for a few hours. I love that guests are welcome to use the water park for the entire day after checking out. Lockers are available in the water park area, but we just put our clothes in a couple of bags and left them on chairs while we swam and played. There are plenty of showers and changing rooms in the rest rooms.

Fun at the water park!
The water park at Castaway Bay was so much fun. We all loved it! My two personal favorite features were the wave pool and The Grotto. The Grotto is a very large hot tub, with a door way in it that leads to the outdoors. So half of the hot tub is inside, and half is outside, and you never leave the water to get outside. I particularly loved being able to go outside, it was so relaxing being out in the brisk cool air while chilling in the hot water! There was really something for everyone in the family to enjoy at the water park. Lucy and Mattie spent most of their time in the Toddler's Tide Pool area, which had a really little slide, and then a bigger one that they could both enjoy. It was a triple slide, so they could go down together. I'm estimating that they went down it at least a hundred times! We all went in the wave pool and The Grotto together, which was great fun. Of course there were many water slides of varying lengths and design, including the Rendevous Run water coaster, which Bethany eventually coaxed me onto. Connor is not a fan of heights and/or water slides, but he still managed to have a blast in the wave pool, the Creature Cove swimming pool, and Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse. There was so much to do. They did a great job designing a water park that is fun for all ages.

My Castaway Bay Tips:

  • Take advantage of the in-room microwave and refrigerator. You can save a ton of cash by bringing your own food! Even one meal's worth of food would be a good savings.
  • Bring something warm to wear when you leave the water park area. The water park might be 82 degrees, but the rest of the resort is freezing! We brought cover ups to the water park with us, but even so, our teeth were chattering when we went for ice cream and walked back to our room. A hoodie and sweatpants would not be a bad idea! Changing into dry clothes before leaving the water park would be even better.
  • Bring flip flops or other water safe shoes
  • Utilize the clothes line in the bathroom. This could be easy to miss if you're not looking for it, but there is a pull out clothes line in the bathtub. It's great for drying suits over night. I also brought several plastic bags so we would have a place to stash our wet suits when we left the water park for the last time. I like to have one for each person because you never know how the color on a suit might bleed until it's too late. I happen to be speaking from experience.
  • Get a new Island Times every morning of your stay. Activities change daily!
  • Get a treasure map from the front desk. This is a fun activity to fill a half hour or so with the kids and get better acquainted with the shops and restaurants in the resort. The last stop is the arcade to pick up a prize, which is an arcade card ($1.00 value & necessary to play most games) with four game tokens loaded onto it.
Thanks to the wonderful generosity and hospitality of the fine folks at Castaway Bay, this was one the best birthdays I've had in a long time. Like, a really long time. We can't wait to return!

Have you been to Castaway Bay? Do you have any tips to share? I'd love to hear them!

Coming soon: Ghostly Manor Thrill Center and other Sandusky attractions! And a sweet giveaway!

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My babies and me at Castaway Bay

Meeting Lucy at Castaway Bay

Castaway Bay provided me with one night stay, including dinner and activities. All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

Sarah Park said...

You did have a big birthday event. The kids surely enjoyed a lot based on the photos.