15 Valleyfair Tips (Minnesota’s Biggest Amusement Park)

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. Learn about the scariest rides for thrill seekers, the best attractions for young kids, what to eat, how to find discounts, and more!

Valleyfair Snoopy fountain and rides
Valleyfair Snoopy fountain and rides (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Be prepared to pay for parking.

Don’t be surprised when you must pay a daily parking fee in addition to your admission tickets. As a Cedar Fair property, Valleyfair’s entrance fees are more affordable than those of 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.

Thankfully, Valleyfair offers a Park N Play option that includes parking. This option is good through June 30 in 2024.

There are 75+ rides and attractions at Valleyfair, Minnesota's largest theme park
There are 75+ rides and attractions at Valleyfair, Minnesota’s largest theme park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Save money at Valleyfair.

Take advantage of discounted Valleyfair Amusement Park ticket options. When you sign up for the Valleyfair newsletter and text notifications (via their mobile app or website), you may receive special offers on tickets plus bargains for use in the park. Those who plan to go more than once will save even more by purchasing a season pass.

You can also often find discounts through Groupon. Additionally, for many years, local discounts have been offered at local Cub grocery stores.

On a tight budget? Get tips to save money on family vacation, from creative souvenirs to alternative accommodations.

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

3. Make a ride plan.

Valleyfair Amusement Park offers an app with a map, ride descriptions, thrill levels, rider height requirements, and Fast Lane eligibility. In years past, ride wait times weren’t provided, but now you can see how long you’ll need to queue up for each attraction, making navigating the park much more manageable.

Before you arrive, review Valleyfair’s website or app to decide which rides are most important for all family members. Then try to group attractions by area of the park and ride the big hitters first. As with most theme parks, your best bet to avoid long lines is to arrive in the morning when Valleyfair first opens.

Typically, the newer and more thrilling the ride, the longer the line. The green-colored steel roller coaster, Wild Thing, is arguably the scariest ride at Valleyfair, reaching up to 74 miles (or 114 kilometers) per hour. Another popular option for daredevils is the North Star, an extreme swing ride that spins atop a 230-foot (70-meter) tower.

Wild Thing Roller Coaster
Wild Thing Roller Coaster (Photo credit: Valleyfair)

4. Enjoy family rides for all ages together.

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

Valleyfair Ferris wheel
The whole family can ride the Ferris Wheel together (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Traditional Theme Park Rides

Valleyfair offers a few traditional amusement parks, such as bumper cars, the carousel, and a Ferris wheel that appeal to families. Look for these sprinkled throughout the park.

Antique Autos

Antique Autos was one of my favorite rides from my Minnesota childhood. On this ride, younger 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.

Minnesota River Valley Railroad
Minnesota River Valley Railroad (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Family Water Rides

Of course, if you need to cool off on a hot day, you could head to Soak City at Valleyfair. But there are also a couple of water rides within the main theme 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.

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

5. Plan to split up.

If visiting this Twin Cities’ 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 smartphone 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 limitations. Although mom and dad may love watching wee ones on Woodstock Whirlybirds and riding Snoopy’s Rocket Coaster with younger kids, older siblings will likely get bored quickly in this area of the park.

Worried about losing young children while exploring Valleyfair Theme Park? Follow these family safety tips to stick together and learn what to do if you should become separated.

Woodstock fountain at Valleyfair Amusement Park
Woodstock fountain (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 with seasonal autumn hours. In summer, the Soak City Water Park opens a week or two later and keeps sliders cool on muggy Midwestern days.

Check the Valleyfair calendar for special events like Corn Fest and Latin Days. Expect a fabulous fireworks display if visiting this theme park on the Fourth of July. In the fall, Valleyfair offers limited hours on weekends only for ValleySCARE and Tricks and Treats.

Corn Fest beer truck
Celebrate the Midwest at Corn Fest (Photo credit: Valleyfair)

7. Celebrate Halloween season at Valleyfair.

Valleyfair’s fall festivities are the Upper Midwest’s largest Halloween attraction. During the day, expect not-so-scary options at Tricks and Treats, with a costume contest, trick-or-treating, special foods, and more.

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

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

8. Invest in Fast Lane.

If you have limited time in the park and love thrill rides, then you might want to invest in Fast Lane. I was quite jealous 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 High Roller, Renegade, and Steel Venom roller coasters.

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

9. Plan a separate day at Soak City Waterpark.

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.

Cool off on hot days at Valleyfair’s Soak City Waterpark. Enjoy Breakers Bay Wave Pool, float along Ripple Rapids lazy river, and play at the Splash Station or Barefoot Beach Splash Pad. Numerous exciting water slides keep intrepid teens and grownups content. Lounge chairs and life jackets are available at no extra charge for all ages.

Panda Express at Valleyfair Amusement Park
Panda Express at Valleyfair Amusement Park (Photo credit: Valleyfair)

10. Fill up on Valleyfair foods.

In my experience, Cedar Fair amusement park food is underwhelming. (The exception to this rule is Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California!) With the announcement of a new executive chef and four new eateries in 2024, however, I am hopeful that Valleyfair’s culinary offerings are on the upswing.

Look for “up-north” cuisine at Lucky Loon, serving roasts, salads, and breaded chicken. Meanwhile, Renegade Smokehouse promises slow-smoked meats and hearty sides to hungry parkgoers. Also, you can count on chain-brand fast food options like Caribou Coffee, Panda Express, Auntie Anne’s, and Subway in the park.

Valleyfair Amusement Park and Knotts Soak City Waterpark
Valleyfair Amusement Park and Knotts Soak City Waterpark (Photo credit: Valleyfair)

11. Pack a picnic.

You can’t bring outside food for meals into the park. The picnic grounds at Valleyfair Amusement Park 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 in the parking lot and go eat at a nearby park. Homeward Hills Park is only 2 miles from Valleyfair, and Staring Lake Park is 2.5 miles away. Those seeking vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free cuisine will find dining options but bringing your own food is always the safest choice for those with severe food allergies.

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

12. Bring bottled water.

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

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)

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

You’ll want a souvenir of your family’s visit to Valleyfair Amusement Park. 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 this theme park 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!

Peanuts Block Party
Peanuts Block Party (Photo credit: Valleyfair)

14. Look for live entertainment.

Minnesota’s biggest amusement park is known for its roller coasters, kiddie rides, carnival games, and water slides. But families will also enjoy live entertainment during a day at Valleyfair. Check the mobile app for showtimes plus appearances by Peanuts Gang characters.

There are two main stages to take in a show: Peanuts Showplace in Planet Snoopy, featuring kid-friendly programming, and Loon Landing with rockin’ and poppin’ musical performances. You might also catch some singing and dancing spectacles as you stroll throughout the park.

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

15. Schedule travel time.

Valleyfair Amusement Park is located in Shakopee, a suburb southeast of the Twin Cities. Without traffic delays, it will take you about 30 minutes to reach the theme park by car from downtown Minneapolis. Add another 10 minutes or so if coming from St. Paul. There is plenty to keep your family amused after you get there, so plan to stay for an entire day of play.

SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge in Nickelodeon Universe
SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge at Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More of the Midwest

Find tons of fun things to do at Mall of America in Minnesota, like the indoor Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park.

About 20 minutes from Valleyfair is Prince’s former home and recording studio in Chanhassen. Learn what it’s like to tour Paisley Park.

Discover Duluth with kids, home to Lake Superior and lots of family-friendly attractions.

Take a look at kid-friendly activities in Branson, the live entertainment capital of the U.S.

Experience Chicago with kids, from free activities at Millenium Park to the Windy City’s famous deep-dish pizza.

Tips for Visiting Valleyfair Theme Park in Minnesota

Save These Valleyfair Tips

Planning to visit Valleyfair with kids or without? Be sure to save these theme park tips to make the most of your day. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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!

  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.)

    1. Amindy – Thanks so much for your Valley Fair Soak City locker rental tip!

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

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