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15 Valleyfair Tips (Biggest Minnesota Amusement Park)

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Valleyfair Amusement Park boasts thrilling rides, entertaining live shows, lots of carnival games, and a full-sized water park. For a fun-filled day, follow these 15 tips for visiting the biggest theme park in Minnesota!

Valleyfair with kids
Kids love a visit to Valleyfair (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

1. Be prepared to pay for parking.

Don’t be shocked when you must pay a daily parking fee in addition to your admission tickets. Thankfully, as a Cedar Fair property, Valleyfair’s entrance fees are more affordable than a Disney or Universal theme park. Still, parking isn’t exactly cheap so you may want to carpool if visiting with friends to save on expenses.

There are 44 rides at Valleyfair ~ Minnesota's largest theme park
There are 44 rides at Valleyfair, Minnesota’s largest theme park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Don’t pay full price.

Take advantage of many discounted Valleyfair Amusement Park ticket options. You can sometimes find discounts through Groupon. Additionally, you might find local discounts through Visit Shakopee’s website or at local Cub grocery stores.

North Star opened in 2017 at Valleyfair
North Star opened in 2017 at Valleyfair (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Make a Valleyfair ride plan.

Although Valleyfair offers an app with a map, ride descriptions and rider height requirements, it does not provide wait times. And, I only saw an expected wait time posted for one ride in the park. This makes choosing which ride to go on next more difficult than, say, when navigating Disney parks.

Take a look at the Valleyfair website before you go and decide which rides are most important for each family member. Then try to group attractions by area of the park and ride the big hitters first. Typically, the newer and more thrilling the ride, the longer the line. As with most amusement parks, your best bet to avoid long lines is to arrive in the morning when Valleyfair first opens.

Planet Snoopy at Valleyfair features 17 rides for kids
Planet Snoopy features 17 rides for kids (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Enjoy family rides for all ages.

Valleyfair is home to numerous roller coasters plus 17 rides just for children in Planet Snoopy. It does not, however, offer many rides that the whole family can enjoy together. Thankfully, there are a handful of attractions that appeal to all ages.

Traditional Theme Park Rides

There are a few traditional amusement park rides at Valleyfair that appeal to families like Bumper Cars, the Carousel, and a Ferris Wheel.

Antique Autos

Antique Autos is a favorite of mine from my Minnesota childhood. On this ride, kids drive their parents in old-fashioned cars along a scenic path with a center guide rail to keep cars on track.

Antique Autos at Valleyfair in Minnesota
Antique Autos multigenerational ride (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Mad Mouse

For a mellow coaster experience, kids 44″+ can take off with parents and bigger siblings on Mad Mouse. This is a good ride to hit first thing in the morning since cars fit only four people each and it takes a long time to load and off-load.

Minnesota River Valley Railroad

Minnesota River Valley Railroad has no height restrictions and chugs through the park. But plan to wait a long time at stops at the front gate and Planet Snoopy.

Family Water Rides

If you need to cool off on a hot day, of course, you could head to the onsite Soak City. But there are also a couple of water rides within the main park for riders 46″+. Thunder Canyon water rapids ride is a good choice for families with kids.

Fans of the 1990s movie, Little Big League, should also take a turn on the Wave. It’s a short ride with a big splash, which was featured in the Minnesota-based film.

The whole family can ride the Ferris Wheel together at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota
The whole family can ride the Ferris Wheel together (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Plan to split up.

If visiting Valleyfair Amusement Park with a large group or with kids of different ages, you may want to split up for a while. Choose a specific time and place to meet up with older, responsible tweens and teens, and be sure everyone’s cell phone is charged in case you can’t find each other.

About half of the rides in Planet Snoopy can be ridden by children alone while parents and grandparents wave from the side. The other half require an adult companion, depending on height. Although mom and dad may love watching wee ones on Woodstock Whirlybirds and the Cosmic Coaster, older siblings will likely get bored quickly in this area of the park.

Valleyfair with kids and adults of different ages
My multigenerational group at Valleyfair Amusement Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Know when to visit Valleyfair.

Valleyfair Amusement Park runs seasonally from spring in mid-May through Labor Day each year. In summer, the Soak City Water Park keeps sliders cool on muggy Midwestern days. Expect a fabulous fireworks display if visiting this theme park on the Fourth of July. In fall, Valleyfair offers limited hours on weekends only for ValleySCARE.

ValleySCARE at Valleyfair is the largest Halloween attraction in Minnesota
ValleySCARE at Valleyfair is the largest Halloween attraction in Minnesota (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Celebrate Halloween season at Valleyfair.

ValleySCARE is the upper Midwest’s largest Halloween attraction. During the day, expect not-so-scary options at the Great Pumpkin Fest in Planet Snoopy with a costume parade, trick-or-treating trails, a hay bale maze, fall-themed craft projects and more.

At night, things turn scary with multiple haunted mazes and live shows like the Sinister Circus. If you dare, wander though Scare Zones filled with fog and creepy creatures, which surround some of the the park’s most thrilling rides.

8. Invest in Fast Lane.

If you have limited time in the park and love thrill rides, you might want to invest in Fast Lane. I was quite jealous indeed when I watched Fast Lane holders saunter onto rides for which I’d been waiting for nearly an hour.

For an additional (hefty!) fee, you’ll receive a Fast Lane wristband that allows you to bypass the regular lines on popular rides like Wild Thing, Renegade, and Steel Venom roller coasters.

Valleyfair Soak City Water Park
Soak City at Valleyfair has enough waterslides and other attractions to fill a day (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Plan a separate day for Soak City Water Park.

Soak City Water Park admission is included with your Valleyfair ticket fare. However, with so many rides, games, and shows, tackling both the theme park and the water park in one day would be exhausting. If you do decide to do both Soak City and Valleyfair in one day, you can stow swimsuits and towels in rentable lockers near the park’s main entrance.

Typically, you can buy discounted two-day tickets to spread out the fun instead. Then your family can focus on splashy entertainment one day and dry land amusements on the other.

10. Stick with brand name snacks.

In my experience, Cedar Fair amusement park food is underwhelming. Food service at Valleyfair during my last visit was painfully slow, too.

If you can, try to fill up by eating before you go. At some point, though, you will probably get hungry for a snack or meal. Your best onsite bets are probably the chain brands like Caribou Coffee, Panda Express, Auntie Anne’s, and Subway.

11. Pack a picnic.

You can’t bring meals into the park. The picnic grounds at Valleyfair are only for catered events, so don’t get fooled by the Picnic Point signs.

Instead, pack a picnic in a cooler with ice packs to leave in your car and eat at a nearby park. Homeward Hills Park is only 2 miles from Valleyfair and Staring Lake Park is 2.5 miles away. This is the safest option for those with serious food allergies.

12. Dine at restaurants near Valleyfair Amusement Park.

Another option is to drive to a nearby restaurant and return for more amusements after your meal. Be sure to get your hand stamped if you plan to return to the theme park after your meal!

Lions Tap Family Restaurant serves up delicious burgers and is less than 2 miles from Valleyfair in Eden Prairie. This was my favorite restaurant growing up in this suburb as a kid!

If Italian food is what you crave, Zuppa Cucina in Shakopee offers pizza (with gluten-free choices), sandwiches, and salads.

Cosmic Coaster in Planet Snoopy at Valleyfair in Minnesota
My 9-year-old and 12-year-old enjoyed the mellow Cosmic Coaster in Planet Snoopy (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

13. Bring bottled water.

Every guest is allowed to bring one sealed water bottle into Valleyfair. There are refill stations located throughout the amusement park, too.

It’s important to stay hydrated while walking and playing in the sun all day. Plus, bringing your own bottle to refill is better for your pocketbook and the environment.

Valleyfair's Olde Time Photo Shop
All dressed up years ago at Valleyfair’s Olde Time Photo Shop (Photo credit: Valleyfair)

14. Get your photo taken at the Olde Time Photo Shop.

You’ll want a souvenir of your family’s visit to Valleyfair. Pop into the Olde Time Photo Shop for an old-fashioned photograph complete with Wild West dress-up clothing and props.

My husband and I went to Valleyfair a few months after we started dating and got one of these souvenir photos taken. It is still displayed on his home office desk. This photo makes me happy every time I look at it, remembering the fun we had at Valleyfair all those years ago!

15. Stay for a full day of play.

Valleyfair Amusement Park is located in Shakopee, a suburb southeast of the Twin Cities. It will take you about 30 minutes to reach the theme park by car from downtown Minneapolis without traffic delays. Add another 10 minutes or so if coming from St. Paul.

Valleyfair tips to know before you go

Have you ever visited a Cedar Fair theme park? Do you have any questions or additional tips for visiting Valleyfair Amusement Park? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Valleyfair recently provided my family of four with one-day media tickets. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Charla Bueckers says

    Apparently I have a severe allergy to a chemical from the bug spray or weed control or something as I am fine out in the parking lot but the second that I go inside the gate my eyes start burning and watering, My July 8th trip was totally ruined for me as I spent time in the 1st aid. People ask me if I am ok to the point that they think that I am crying, I need to find out what chemicals are being used to confer with my Doctor to see what can be done or I am afraid I am going to have to call it a end of my life time of visiting Valley Fair which I have yearly for 42 some years. Please reply.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Charla – I’m sorry to hear about your allergies at Valley Fair! I just recently returned from Minnesota and I know that seasonal allergies have been very strong this year there. I think it’s a good idea to check with your doctor about what could be causing the irritation. Maybe your doctor will recommend a non-drowsy antihistimine?

      • Charla Bueckers says

        I have already taken the step by speaking to my physician’s nurse and she said it would help to find out what chemicals that Valleyfair is using in the spray to help determine what the recommended antihistamine for me. So, who do I speak to get that information.

        Charla Bueckers

  2. Thanks, but I am done with VF! With the advent of their Fast Lane which costs an EXTRA $60, your wait times are doubled. Even on a week day we ended up waiting 20+ minutes on rides. So if a ride takes 32, 16 will come from fast lane. Their greed has ruined it for everyone!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Mike – I am sorry to hear about your frustrations with Valleyfair. We also noticed that the lines were extremely long due to the upgraded Fast Lanes. Might be best to right at opening time to avoid the crowds?!

  3. Great tips! Although for Soak City I would add- have a group member willing to rotate out and sit with your belongings while the others are in the pool. The lockers are $15 for a small and $20 for a large as of summer 2018, and the large looked like it would barely fit clothes for 3 of us. (They don’t allow you to open and check the lockers for size until you have paid for one.)

  4. Veronica Solomon says

    What a great way to have a fun day with the family. Great memories too

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Veronica – Agreed! And all the more fun because we visited Valleyfair with extended family. The more the merrier!

  5. Awesome tips! I mean, these would really help families maximize their visit to Valleyfair. Hope I could visit someday. The park looks fantastic!

  6. Wow this park looks amazing! I’m loving your vibrant photos. It must have been an amazing day!

  7. How fun is this! I would love to feel like a kid again and visit the Valley Fair!

  8. Toni | Boulder Locavore says

    We’ve been here with the kids once and I can’ t wait to go back! Such a fun trip with the family!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      I hadn’t been in years and years and am glad we brought the kids to Valleyfair. Enjoy your repeat visit!

  9. I love theme parks, especially ones with roller coasters. I have never been to Valleyfair, but it looks like the perfect destination for family fun.

  10. This is a great post. One never thinks to plan a big day trip like this, and then you get in trouble, especially with kids, if you are not prepared for what is coming! I always have a game pan before we hit the amusement park!

  11. This looks like so much fun. I love the sassy photo at the end!

  12. Carol Cassara says

    Awesome place for the whole family! It’s really going to be fun out there and there’s plenty of stuff to expect as well. This place makes the trip even more worth it especially when you’re with the kids.

  13. AnnMarie John says

    It would be so nice to be able to go there with the kids! I love that there are plenty of attractions for kids of all ages! It won’t be tough for mine to find rides or attractions that they’d love to try or explore.

  14. Shannon Gurnee says

    I’ve never even heard of this place before, but it sounds like a lot of fun to visit! I bet our kids would have a blast here!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Valleyfair such a big park with so many thrill rides and Planet Snoopy rides for kids – it’s so funny that so many people have not hear of this theme park!

  15. This is a great guide. I’d want to schedule everything out or at least having an outline. Thanks for the heads up on the discounts!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      It’s definitely a good idea to come up with a rough schedule of must-do rides before your visit to maximize your time at Valleyfair!

  16. Pam Wattenbarger says

    These are great tips. We never eat at theme parks because of my daughter’s celiac and my granddaughter’s food allergies. It’s good to know that there is a nearby park to picnic at.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Smart move, Pam! I have friends with Celiac and severe allergies and I know you need to take serious precautions to stay healthy & safe when eating anywhere.

  17. Melissa Chapman says

    Those rides are great looking. So many tall towers, my kids would love these, I will probably sit out most of it. It is great you can come and go to save on eating. Not in Minnesota but this is a reason to go.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thankfully there are some rides for those of us who don’t like super scary coasters. I find I’m getting more wimpy the older I get!

  18. This looks like such a blast. We have some relatives in Minnesota so the next time we visit I’ll have to suggest a trip to ValleyFair.

  19. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    That looks so awesome! We love going to fairs almost as much as we love to travel. Looks like our next trip is going to be to the Valley Fair! WOOHOO!

  20. That sounds like a fun place to take the kids. Mine would love it there.

  21. This sounds a great place. thanks for sharing the complete guide.

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