One of the best things about living in Lansing is that it’s centrally located to all of our favorite places in Michigan. Soaring Eagle Waterpark is located in Mt. Pleasant; about 72 miles north of Lansing. To give you a visual; if you look at the palm of your right hand, fingers together like you’re wearing a mitten, Mt. Pleasant is where your middle finger meets your palm. Lansing is the center of your palm.
We Begin Our Trip with a Mom Fail
This was our second time visiting Soaring Eagle Waterpark. In the video above, Liam recalled his first visit and overnight stay and his desire to stay again. Despite having a plan, a to-do list, a timeline, and a fully cooperative child, we were exactly an hour late. It was my fault.
Just 27 hours before our trek to Mt. Pleasant, Liam and I had the gumption to do something we wanted to do for a long time. Buy a legit waterproof camera. It was too late to purchase from Amazon, so we went to Best Buy and price matched with Amazon. I tinkered with 5 of the 6 waterproof cameras they offered, while Liam gravitated to one, insisting it was thee one. After doing some research (ie. Youtube reviews), I concluded Liam was right. We left with our purchase more eager for our waterpark day trip than we were any day before. The problem was, I forgot to get an SD card and neglected to charge the camera, which was the hour hold up.
Arrived at Destination
Thankfully, Liam napped for the majority of the one hour and nine-minute rainy drive up 127 North. He woke up shortly before arriving, refreshed and ready. We were greeted by No More Sidelines volunteers and a table full of more freebies.
The indoor waterpark offers large, clean facilities with ample space to suit up with designated change rooms, separate showering area and toilets, and a few locker areas. We approached the water, fearlessly recording and snapping stills with our Olympus TG-5 waterproof camera. A purchase that was SO worth it!
A handful of people stopped me to ask about my camera. The Olympus TG-5* is a fully submersible waterproof camera. It has a tough frame, resilient against drops. I attached mine to a handheld tripod* for a better grip, to keep fingers out of frame, and to set up to get a shot of me and Liam racing down the slide.
Liam took it down the slide a handful of times but was more interested in me taking under water photos of him. I took breaks from being mamarazzi to play around with the camera settings, which is something I should have done before this trip. I’m thrilled with the camera and in love with being able to take pictures and videos regardless of weather or activity. I especially thought this when I was asked to retrieve a lady’s iPhone that rest 4 feet under water, near my feet. Oooo…That could’ve been me.
Exploring Soaring Eagle Waterpark with Special Needs
We skipped out on the huge tube water slides, wave surfing, and rock wall climbing, which are more appropriate for strong swimmers with good coordination. Nevertheless, Liam was ecstatic swirling in the pool’s mini whirlpool, barreling down the waterslides attached to the “jungle gym” type playset, floatin’ around the lazy river, and relaxing in the hot tub. He went across the floating acorn obstacle course and on the second attempt, he successfully crossed without falling! (Of course, it was when my waterproof camera died and I didn’t have my iPhone on me. Another mom fail).
The waterpark is loud. Between the shrills of happy kids and the echoes of the Niagra Falls (ok, maybe a bit exaggerated but to a sensory kid…it’s the Niagra Falls), this could be a trigger for a sensory shit show. My biggest concern was how the volume, and the need to yell to each other, would affect Liam’s sensory integration. Our previous visit went well, but that was 3 years ago and things change. I brought along a few sensory tools in case the environment got too chaotic for him to manage. I packed his Wilbarger brush*, a chewy necklace*, and a theraband*.
I’m pleased to report, he did not need any sensory tool intervention. After a while,over stimulated the rushing water became white noise. He was hypervigilant with communication and eye contact. I noticed he’d stop in various spots, rubbing the soles of his feet against the surface of which he stood. The cement was coarse, the tiles were smooth, the playset was bumpy. We took time to acknowledge how he was feeling. overstimulatedbut he was able to adapt to his area and self-regulate. (I’m blushing with pride). The hot tub served as the perfect slow down and chill spot.
Snack Time + Food Allergies
Unfortunately, we have gluten allergies and could not eat at the waterpark’s eatery, which appeared to be popular with the other guests. Luckily, we packed our own snacks and were able to eat at tables which line the perimeter of the play space. Sometimes transitions can be challenging. Especially when ending a fun activity to do something boring like get sustenance. I’m sure every mom has experienced a child willing to starve for the sake of fun. Not having to change or leave to eat and allowing “outside” food are small things that had a big impact on transitioning and mood. It made snack time a quick, easy, and pleasant break.
An hour or so before we headed out, the crowd thinned out and I felt a bit safer giving Liam some space. He’s becoming more responsible, a better swimmer, and there were several lifeguards keeping watch over his area. At one point, separated by a ledge, I sat in the hot tub while Liam swirled in the whirlpool.
Four hours removed from our arrival, it was time to get the Liam and Glo show on the road. We already crept past dinner time. I calculated we wouldn’t be pulling into the driveway until well after 8pm. Although Liam wanted to stay all night, he was also getting hungry and tired but politely asked for 5 minutes more in the hot tub and one trip down the slide before willingly adapting back to dry land. I never say no to a compromise.
He fell asleep in the car before we made it to the highway and woke as I turned on our street. Collapsing on the couch, we polished off a gluten-free barbeque chicken pizza I uncovered from the freezer and recapped our favorite moments. Dragging our bodies up the stairs, we agreed a return visit needs to be in our future but next time we’ll pack more food.