I recommend going to the gift shop first to get a $5 locker key ($10 deposit) for your swim/dry stuff before all of the lockers are taken. If weather permits, hit the water park first because it gets crowded and can run out of mats and inner tubes (which are free to use). You can't bring food or drink into the park, but you can go out to your car for lunch if you pack a cooler, and then come back into the park. On a typical day, the lines for the food are long and have amusement park prices. We got one $7 souvenir cup with $1 soda refills for all of us to share throughout the day which was a great value plus the souvenir.
What my family liked best:
Smaller scale park for an easier day with the kids.
Lots of kids rides.
Almost everything they had to do was in adult and kid size (ie big and small rollercoasters, big and small bumper cars, big and small water play areas, etc)
Snack food not too pricey (meals a little expensive)
Being able to go in and out of the locker all day without paying extra was convenient.
The parking, life jackets, sunscreen, tubes and mats are free.
My kids loved the magic show. It was a great break between rides.
Feeding the goats in the Petting Zoo for 25 cents a cup.
Felt very friendly and safe. We felt comfortable leaving our flip flops near a water ride to retrieve afterwards.
Lots of chairs, though most are not shaded.
Negative rumors I've heard:
- "Lines for food, drink, and bathrooms can be extremely time consuming" - We went on an overcast week day at the end of summer and had NO lines at all for rides, food, or bathrooms at all. It was AWESOME!
- "Water looks dirty" - we didn't see this AT ALL. The water looked, smelled, and felt very clean and chlorinated.
- "Lifeguards are statues with whistles" - we thought the lifeguards were very attentive with the exception of one who was much more interested in women's bathing suits.
- "The bathroom floors are disgusting" - Again, we went on a very light day, and the floors were totally fine. However, I would still recommend wearing water shoes or packing a pair of flip flops for the water side.
- "The price is too high for such a small park" - I agree with this one. The fee goes by height (above or below 54") not adult vs child, and there is only a $2 difference. I wouldn't go without a Groupon, Valpak coupon, or other discount, but there are a ton of them out there.
- "Everything is old" - There is a lot of older looking equipment, peeling paint, older bathrooms, etc. It also has some carnival type rides that feel older and a little shabby. But I felt like everything seemed safe, and there were a lot of newer looking rides (or paint jobs) too. Beech Bend has been adding new rides and attractions every year since 2005, but it's been around since 1898, what do you expect?
- "All the rides are broken" - I saw 2 kiddie rides in the whole park that were closed. Seems common for any amusement park. "The workers are rude" - I felt like these workers were close to the friendliest workers on earth. Everyone was welcoming, accomidating, helpful, cheeerful, and friendly. Several of the older workers even told us some history of the park and rides that was very interesting (Did you know country singer Ronnie Milsap had ownership of the park at one time, and that one of the rides was Michael Jackson's favorite when it was at Neverland Ranch?)
All in all, we had a terrific day, in part because the park was not crowded, nor was it too hot out. My kids wanted to return the very next day and do it all over again. I think Beech Bend would be a great park to visit with a coupon/discount, especially with elementary school aged kids, or those who may prefer the smaller park with less walking. If you decide to do the campground as well, there is a $17 second day ticket which seems like a great weekend getaway, or you could add some of the race track activities with your stay (we got to see some of a Camaro fest at the race track which I thought was great!) We'll definitely return again next year and add it to our Bowling Green destination activities!