Whirl & Swirl Water Park
San Dimas, CA
Whirl & Swirl Water Park (or as I like to call it “Whirl & Hurl”) is a great place to spend a summer afternoon, any afternoon really. But for artistes on a budget like me, there are a few things I recommend to keep things (other than your cash) flowing to make your day totally whirltastic!
First of all I would like to say that anyone coming to any sort of amusement park in California should know that the parking and food are going to be expensive. Buy the season parking pass online and save a couple bucks. If you love fun in the sun like me, you’ll want to go more than once, I promise you.
Also, it’s a good idea to tuck a little food away when you come in. This way, you won’t have to take out a loan just to have your brain centrifuged by a freezing wet swirly-majiggy on an empty stomach. There are ways to get by the bag checkers at the entrance, who will send you straight to the trash bins if they find as much as a pack of peanut butter crackers in your purse. Like a small thing like that could actually game-change the possibility of paying thirty bucks for a tray of chili dogs with a side of seasoned fries.
The way these rides are designed, the food is just going to end up a regurgitated mess anyway, and good luck making it to a trash can before that happens! No siree. Ever since I blew a partially digested orange swirl cone out of my nose following a ride called The Toilet Flush, I made a vow to never end up a victim of the food racket at Whirl & Hurl again in my life. I not only bring my own food, but share it with anyone who doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a cup of freeze-dried BBs that stick to the back of your throat. Dippin Dots anyone? OW.
So it’s pretty simple: if you want to bring in a bag of Twizzlers or a Subway sandwich, you can just roll those into your beach towel and walk right in. You can also do this with lunch meat, carrots, and string cheese. I once rolled up an entire pepperoni pizza like a cannoli… but I don’t recommend it.
My favorite move is what I like to call “the Trojan Mom-bo.” It’s easy. All you need is a fake preggo belly (I bought mine on Amazon) and a muumuu. There are really cute muumuus at K-Mart for a fraction of what most places charge (check ads for sales!). And that’s it! The water park staff can be straight-up looters with your stash, but it’s not like they’re going to frisk you or anything.
This Labor Day alone, I snuck in five boxes of Thin Mints, a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, a bucket of KFC (original recipe) drumsticks, two 2-liter bottles of Sprite, and a gallon of Breyers vanilla bean ice cream (brrrr!). Keep in mind, the rides at Whirl & Hurl are designed to make you sick to your stomach, so like Karen Carpenter said: creamy and sweet is better than heat. Rainy days and mondays always get me down too, Karen. Since those are the worst days to go to a water park!
Anyway when it’s time for lunch, after a few plunges down a 120-foot slope, I like to park myself in a cool spot underneath some old oak trees. I usually make the sandwiches out there with the loaves that I smuggle in so the bread doesn’t get mushy. People can decide what they want on their sandwiches if they know the drill, but for a lot of first timers at the park I like to slip them a nice crustless PBJ—on the house. After that, they’re only a buck! It’s a special favorite among the vegetarians.
I have a few more techniques that involve a wheelchair, a swaddled baby doll, and a fake arm (not all at once—are you crazy!) but I’ll leave that to your imagination. For artistes reading this, find your own inspiration, maybe you can come up with something that suits your own personal tastes—literally!
Is Swirl & Whirl a top-notch water park? I don’t know, I’ve never been to the upscale water park to justify giving this place two stars. Can you imagine a place where there are no lines, the slides are all wet with Evian, and water-butlers float out to you with complimentary caviar while you’re in the wave pool? I’m sure if you frequent one of these five-star water parks, Swirl & Hurl may be slumming it, but for me, it’s definitely my “happy place.”
Sabra Embury is a book critic for Brooklyn's L Magazine. Her confabulations and fantastications can be found in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Rumpus, Tottenville Review, NANO Fiction and other places. Follow her antics on Twitter @yrubmEarbaS.