Obviously swim wear is a must, but what a lot of people don't think about is shoes. Many people think they can go barefoot. And you can, but it is HOT in Texas (I know, shocking) and the ground can burn your feet. We learned from our trip to the park last year that water shoes are the way to go. We stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a pair for each of us for the grand total of $14 since my shoes were on sale for $3. Totally worth it. Way easier to walk around the park with the shoes and there was only one ride (Wala Wala Falls) where we had to take them off. No problem though because it's a short ride and you can easily hold them.
This site offered an excellent discount on tickets. It's a credit union site. We're not members of the credit union, but were still able to use the site. We got tickets for $30 each and that included the taxes and processing fee. That is an absolute steal and hard to beat anywhere.
Parking costs $10, but there is a pick-up/drop-off area so if you want to save on parking, you can have a friend drop you off. We planned to go ahead and pay for the parking ourselves.
We arrived about 30 minutes after the park opened. That was not bad since it wasn't as crowded as it got later in the day, but it is still crowded. Definitely buy your tickets online before you go (see discount site above). You can save yourself time standing in the ticket line.
Your bags will be inspected and any and all food/drink items will be removed. You will be asked to return them to the car or to eat them right there or whatever, but you cannot bring them into the park with you. Be prepared for that.
Food and drinks are ridiculously expensive in the park. The best thing to do is eat before you go. We stopped by Dunkin' Doughnuts before we went to the park and that filled us up. The one thing we did do was purchase a drink in the park. It was horrifically expensive, but worth it at the time since I was so thirsty. I understand you can bring water so next time I will do that. But, I did not see any water fountains in the park to refill a bottle so I'd suggest bringing a large bottle.
For food, the best thing to do is leave the park (you can re-enter for no fee) and walk to Wendy's or Rudy's BBQ, both of which are nearby. It's not a bad walk and is significantly cheaper than eating in the park.
There is really no way around a locker rental since everyone brings something with them to the park if only car keys. The small locker was $9 plus a $5 fee that gets refunded when you bring the key back. Just plan to pay that. The small locker accommodated our tote bag with sunscreen, extra clothes and towel.
Tubes are $6 plus a $2 fee that gets refunded when you return them. We rented two tubes. This is not the best idea honestly. Live and learn. We ended up carrying them around with us and on the second ride we went on, we had to use the provided tubes for the ride. So we set our rented tubes next to the ride thinking they would be fine there.
They weren't. We got off the ride and found our tubes gone. Luckily, we saw a kid with one of them so we got that one back. We returned to the tube rental place and they were nice enough to just give us a second tube. Still though, it's just a hassle because you only need the tube for three of the rides in the park. While it is nice not to have to wait in the tube line (which can get very, very long), the best thing to do is either not rent the tube or, if you decide to, go immediately to the attractions for which you need it and do those first, then return the tube.
Attractions for which you can use the rental tubes are:
1. Runaway Rapids
2. Zoom Flumes
You can also use them on Paradise River, which is the lazy river where you just casually float around the park.
So, if you rent the tubes, go immediately to the attractions where they are useful, ride those as much as you want and then return the tubes so you aren't carrying them around all day.