There’s no doubt about it: a family vacation to a theme park can be lots of fun! From one-of-a-kind character meet and greets to thrilling rides and entertaining shows, amusement parks really know how to deliver a memorable good time. However, if you’re visiting theme parks with kids that good time can quickly take a turn for the worst thanks to culprits like long lines, meltdowns, and overspending.
Don’t worry, though! With our tips for visiting theme parks with kids, you’ll be able to keep those culprits at bay and savor the time you’re spending with family.
1) Buy Your Tickets in Advance
When you begin your day at a theme park, the last thing you want to do is wait in line to buy tickets. Instead, opt to buy your tickets in advance to not only skip the ticket lines but save money, too. For example, Reserve Direct sells gate-ready tickets for Disney World, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Over Georgia, and numerous other theme parks—all at a discount.
2) Have a Plan
Having a plan is key to making the most of your day at a theme park. From a spending budget to a list of your kid’s must-dos, sticking to a plan will help keep your day organized and stress-free.
When you’re visiting theme parks with kids, costs can add up—fast. Decide ahead of time whether you’re buying lunch at the park or packing your own. Will you buy souvenirs at the park? If so, set a limit for what each kid can spend.
No matter the age of your kids, you’ll want to make a priority list of must-dos. If your child absolutely, positively has to meet Cinderella, plan on making that one of your first to-do items. And, if you’re traveling with multiple kids, be sure each one’s wish list is given it’s due. The whole family can ride mild rides while, if your teen wants to ride the coasters, you can divide and conquer another family activity during that time.
It’s also important to know which rides have the longest wait times. Plan for those accordingly, and be sure to take advantage of any skip-the-line passes. For instance, Disney World offers free FastPasses to guests. You definitely want to take advantage of these passes!
You don’t want to think the worst but you will want to plan for it. As such, make sure your younger kids have identifiable contact information on their person just in case they get separated from you. For older kids, tell them the plan for what to do if they get lost or separated from you as well. Knowing where park services are and what the park’s procedures are for these occurrences is also helpful.
If you plan ahead, you’ll spend less time thinking “What’s next?” and more time having fun.
3) Be Flexible
Things will not go as planned! It’s important to be flexible and go with the flow. After all, it’s a vacation!
We understand this is hard to do, though. You’ve paid good money for this vacation and have certain expectations going in. However, as much as we recommend having a game plan it’s also wise to have a Plan B. The kids might get tired and you might need to take a break. Don’t look at it as a loss. If you let the kids set the pace you’re sure to remember the good time you had rather than the fight that resulted from the “forced family fun.”
4) Take Breaks
Along with being flexible, it’s important to take breaks with visiting theme parks with kids. When you push your kids beyond their limits, a meltdown is almost inevitable. As a result, it’s important to not only take breaks but plan breaks—especially when traveling with young kids. Take time away from the theme park to recharge. That might mean taking a nap or splashing around at the pool at your resort. Whatever it is, that bit of downtime will ensure you’re keeping everyone happy.
5) Pack Snacks & Supplies
When visiting theme parks with kids, packing snacks and supplies is not only recommended but necessary. You never know when your kid will get a sudden hunger attack. And, not only do you want to fork over cash every time it happens you also don’t want them to fill up on junk food. The same is true for supplies like band-aids, hand sanitizer, and sunscreen. Don’t pay theme park prices for these items when you can easily tote them in. We also encourage bringing refillable water bottles so you’re sure to stay hydrated during your day without buying bottles of water at every turn.
6) Let the Kids Decide
Half the fun of visiting a theme park is watching your kids experience it for themselves. Maybe they want to ride the same attraction over and over again! Let ‘em! It’s also important to not force your kids to ride something they’re not ready for. For example, you might know that LEGOLAND California coaster is super kid-friendly but if your kid isn’t convinced, it’s not worth the fight. Similarly, if there’s a ride you really want to experience but the line is never-ending let the kid decide whether it’s worth it to them or not.
Yes, as parents we’ve paid for the vacation. But, trying to control every aspect of it will not be fun—for anyone (including you!).
Make the Most of Visiting Theme Parks with Kids
With these tips, you’re ready to conquer a day at a theme park with your kids. Remember, bring your patience, have a plan, and be ready to go with the flow. And, relax! It’s time for some memorable family fun.