Traveling to any amusement or theme park can be a daunting task, especially when it involves bringing along young kids. However, with some planning, you can help minimize the chance of a meltdown on the midway. Use these tips for a better day in the parks.
1) Pack enough diapers and wipes– Nothing could be worst than running one too few on diapers after your child just had a major blowout. So figure out how many typical diaper your kid(s) use in a day, and throw in a couple extra for good measure.
2) Include some extra outfits (and shoes)– Today’s amusement parks offer a variety of entertainment to keep you in the park. More and more we see splash pads and areas involving water just for the kids. Make sure to bring along the kids swimsuits (and swim diapers), ensuring they have a warm, dry pair of clothes to change into when done.
3) Bring along medications– If your child has special allergies or requires daily medications, make sure to bring them along just in case. You never know when an issue may occur, like a cross contamination of food with a peanut allergy. Check with your park on their policy for bringing in medications; they may have to be placed in a clear plastic bag.
4) A stroller can be a life saver – If you have ever taken your kids to Disney, you might have noticed the staff, where their exclusive job is to organize the abundance of strollers. More and more parks have designated spots for strollers. You may think, but my kid is five and can walk on their own. However, regardless of your kids age, if they can fit in a stroller, it might be worth it to bring it into the park.
Store in the bottom of the stroller all the miscellaneous items you may need throughout the day. Just make sure to take along any valuables with you (cameras, purses, etc.) when leaving the stroller behind. Finally, when your child gets tired of walking all day and can not make it any further to get back to the car, they have an out (and the parent has something to lean on and support their walk).
5) Hydrate– Running around all day, and especially in the summer heat, we often forget the need to drink plenty of fluids. We can easily fall into the trap of giving our kids soda all day, since it typically is the primary beverage served. Bottles of water in the park can quickly get expensive. However, if you have your own refillable bottle, you can typically refill it at water fountains, and some of the food stands may refill them for you for free. If you did not bring your own container, most food stands in parks will even give you for free a cup of water.
6) A Full Belly Equals a Happy Kid– Jumping ride to ride, kids expel a lot of energy, and often they can not articulate that their crankiness is the result of hunger. Check with your parks policies, but typically they have no problem bringing in snacks for your kids. Grab some granola bars, or pack some cut up fresh fruit if you have a small cooler you can put them in with the baby bottles. This simple tip can make a big difference on your daily meal expenditure too.
Also, as parks try and capture more of your dollars, consider getting a meal plan, such as those at Cedar Point. A family can easily share the plan, ensuring someone eats every 90 minutes.
7) Sunscreen– No one wants to deal with sunburn after being under the sun all day. Make sure to bring along a bottle of your favorite SPF and apply liberally and often to keep those little heads, arms, and legs from getting toasted. A hat also helps prevent sun damage.
8) Rest– We may all get caught up in the excitement of riding the next attraction, but sometimes we need to slow down and read the cues from our children. If you already fed and hydrated those kiddos, they may just need a break from waiting in another line. Find a quiet corner of the park and let them nap in the stroller. Or find an area specially made for kids, such as a playground, and let them have at it. While they enjoy getting to ride the big coasters, it is often the little things that let them relax and refresh (and connect with other kids).
9) Family Care Centers– Most parks we have visited have designated buildings just for kids and parents. Need to breastfeed in a private room, missing an extra diaper, or need to purchase some medicine. Family Care Centers, located inside the parks, can make your day more enjoyable even if you left something at home.
10) Child Swap– Visit Disney Parks, and most parents should know of the rider swap policy, where one parent rides the attraction while the other watches the kid(s) too small to ride. Then when the first parent is complete, they switch and the other person rides. Cedar Point and associated Cedar Fair parks offer a similar Parent Swap program, as do other amusement and theme parks. Take advantage of these programs to ensure you have some fun too.
We spend a lot of money just to get us to our favorite amusement park between travel and tickets, but in the hustle and bustle to get out the door, we can often overlook the things we will need to have a successful day. Checking you have all these areas covered before walking out the door can help make for a great family day in the park.
What must have tips have you used to ensure a successful trip to your favorite amusement park with kids? Leave a comment below and share your insights.
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