Crystal Lewis Brown/Tribune Contributor

My family and I have lived in the Phoenix metro area for five years and, though we’ve passed it many times, we had yet to visit Mesa Golfland-Sunsplash. So, we figured now was the perfect time. And though we’d had plenty of time to prepare for our visit, I have to admit I arrived with less general mom-type gear than I should have.

“When you throw the water park in, it’s easily going to be eight hours,” said Tony Jones, sales and marketing director of Golfland-Sunsplash, referring to the length of a typical park visit. Our meager beach bag was prepared for three hours – tops.

Here’s why: The amusement center is really two parks in one. It’s something that caught me by surprise. Golfland, which includes miniature golf, arcade games, laser tag, a race track, six waterslides and more; and Sunsplash, which includes the rest of the waterslides, a wave pool, lazy river and other water attractions. You can choose to go to one or the other (ticket prices vary) but the best bet is to opt for both.

There are 30 different water attractions across the park’s approximately 12 acres, Jones said.

We started our morning playing 18 holes of miniature golf. With an 8- and 4-year-old in tow, we made it to about the 15th hole before most of our balls ended up in the fountains. But we definitely had fun while it lasted.

There’s something about miniature golf that puts nearly everyone, regardless of age, on a level playing field. And my family didn’t hesitate to point out when I was the only one unable to get my ball past the starting line somewhere around hole 10.

After playing our round (spoiler: I didn’t win) we were ready for a dip. And here’s where Jones’ tips come in handy. My family had eaten a late lunch, but a smarter move after miniature golf would have been to take a break from the triple-digit temperatures and enjoy lunch and a few arcade games inside and out of the sun.

“We have a lot of air conditioned areas if you want to take a break from the heat, we provide that,” Jones said.

The large variety of games and lunch area provide a nice respite, especially during the summer, although snacks are also available inside the waterpark.

Whether you’re planning to make it a day, or even just to hit the waterpark, take it from me and pack your beach bag with plenty of provisions. Bring beach towels, flip-flops or swim shoes, sunscreen, swimsuits (if you’re not wearing them already) and a change of clothes. Although outside food isn’t allowed, you can bring in your own water and keep it chilled in a cooler.

“It’s easy to get dehydrated,” Jones said. “We allow you to bring in bottled water, so definitely bring in as many as you like.”

If you really want to have a whole day of relaxation and fun, the park has 14 cabanas for rent. Cabanas include a private lockbox, cellphone chargers, table, lounge chairs and priority food service, with cabana delivery.

“It’s good because it gives parents a meeting area for all their kids,” Jones said.

The waterpark is split up into sections which helps keep younger kids, or those who just aren’t interested in the thrill-seeking large rides, stay in their own area while everyone else heads to the rides. We hung out in the lazy river before hitting the pool and the kids’ area, which is perfect for families, like mine, with children of varying ages and swimming abilities.

“It’s done that way on purpose,” Jones said. “For our kids’ areas, there’s just one way in and one way out and all self-contained.” In parent-speak? You can sit in a shaded area and enjoy your pizza without worrying about your child wandering off.

The park also allows life vests near the wave pool area, which is a welcome relief for families like ours with weaker swimmers. It also means one less thing to pack in your beach bag.

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