The kids had been begging to go to Six Flags since the weather got nice. So now you’ve looked at the calendar and picked the perfect day. Now what?
Taking the kids to the amusement park can be challenging physically, emotionally, and financially. But with a some planning on your part, you can ease the burden of all three. All it takes is a little extra time and a little extra patience.
Here are a handful of tips you can use the on your next trip to the amusement park to stay safe, sane, and maybe even prevent any extra gray hairs from sprouting up at the end of the day.
1. Buy Your Tickets Online
Many amusement parks offer discount deals if you buy tickets ahead of time online. You can also find great deals if you do a little research first. Don’t be suckered into paying full price at the ticket booth when many amusement parks offer $5 or even $10 dollars off if you bring a can of food with you! Oh, and don’t forget Facebook! Tell your friends you’re planning on going to the amusement park, and you just might end up with someone’s unused season passes or discount tickets. Plus, many parks offer discounts via their Facebook pages as well.
2. Print a Schedule
The night before your trip, be sure to visit the website of the park you plan to visit. Most have some daily schedule you can look at to see what time certain attractions and shows are so you can plan your day around them. This avoids rushing around at the last minute and missing out on attractions you and the kids wanted to see.
3. Print a Map
Before you log off the website, you might want to click on the park map and print that out too. Looking at the park map can help you pinpoint the do-not-miss rides and attractions and in what order you may want to check them out. This is especially important the younger your children are. When you time each ride or attraction, you cut down on how much walking you’re doing in-between rides and can plan out breaks throughout the day. Having your day even somewhat mapped out can cut down on tantrums, crankiness and whininess. It also keeps the kids happy.
4. Pack Extensively AND Lightly
Now that you’ve got your day planned out, it’s time to pack the bag. When packing for a day at the amusement park, the first thing to remember is to be prepared. Here’s a quick list of things to remember.
Stroller Bring your own! Most parks will allow you to rent a stroller but will charge you for it. So save the money and pack your own. Chances are it will give you a little extra storage room for essentials anyway.
Essentials Sunblock, hats, water, camera, cell phone, and of course diapers and change of clothes for younger kids if needed; don’t forget your schedule, map, and tickets that you printed out the night before!
Food Forget paying $15 for a hot dog and soda! Pack some sandwiches and fruit and call it a day. Maybe splurge on some ice cream or dessert, but if the park allows it, bring your own food and drinks. Remember your map? Make sure you mark off any shaded picnic areas in the park so you know to make your way there around lunchtime.
5. Bring a Backpack
The trick is to pack all the above listed stuff into as small a space as possible and keep your arms free. If you’re bringing a stroller, you can store some stuff there, and if you’ve got older kids who can carry a back pack, divide up some of the essentials so that no one person is carrying everything.
6. Prepare the Night Before, Not the Morning Of
Remember, packing the night before can help cut down on the morning stress of getting everyone up and out the door.
7. Business Cards
Huh? It may sound weird, but bringing a few business cards with you (assuming they have your cell number on them) can be a great safety measure. If your kids aren’t old enough to have their own cell phone, make them each carry a business card (or slip of paper if you don’t have cards) with your cell phone number on it. Make sure your child knows what it’s for. If they get separated from you they can give your card to someone who works at the park (show them how to find those people when you get there) and they can call you right away. This way if they don’t know your cell phone number by heart or panic and forget it, they’ll still be able to reach you quickly.
Or if your a Life360 member, just make sure they have their Life360ID bracelet or cards. In case they get lost, the Amber-Alert enabled IDs will have your contact information, as well as emergency medical information.
8. Dress Accordingly
Make sure you and the family are wearing comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes. Dress younger kids in brightly colored clothes so that they stand out in the crowd. And if you’re going to a water park within the park, pack the bathing suits.
9. Stay Aware
Keep one eye on your little ones at all times. Make sure when walking through the crowd that your kids are holding onto a grown ups hand or stroller. Also explain to them what to do and where to go if they do get lost.
A day at the amusement park with the family can take a lot out of you, but with a little preparation it can be a fun day for everyone. Even Mom and Dad.