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Theme Parks Should Be Fun!


By Stephany Wiestling

Theme park? Pretty much describes my daily life. So why does it seem so chaotic during a family vacation ? Some pre-trip prep can tame the chaos. Repeat after me, "We're here to relax and have fun." Keep coming back to this when everyone is hot, tired, and cranky.

Take it easy, relax.
Bursting through the gates, we just want to rush to do it all! Now! Remember the mantra, "We're here to relax and have fun". Get to the theme park when the gates open, yes, definitely. Then, take a break during the hottest part of the day. If you can, go back to your hotel for a nap or a swim. Come back to the theme park in late afternoon and stay late to watch the evening light show, fireworks, etc. Keep meals and sleep times as close to normal as possible, but let the rest of the day be open to something spontaneous.

Have a loose itinerary.
Check the theme park's website for maps of the attractions. Have each family member pick their top 2 or 3 things they want to see/do/ride. Let them make an extra list of 'if there's time' for a few more. Check the height requirements and theme park rules while making the lists. This way someone doesn't get their heart broken if they can't go on their chosen ride. Now, set your 'game plan'.

Check the weather. Dress appropriately.
Wear comfortable shoes that won't fall off during a ride. That goes for the kids, too. Frozen juice boxes and water bottles help beat the heat, as does a stroller shade for the little one. My poor little guy has been so slathered with sunscreen and shade that he's never even had a tan. A battery-operated misting fan provides major amusement for the kids, while keeping them cool.

Safety Tips.
Teach your child to recognize and approach a theme park employee if they get separated from you. Practice with them and explain to the employee that you're practicing. They will likely be very helpful with this. Set up a meeting place so if anyone gets lost, they know where to go to find you. Make sure each child has a map with the meeting place clearly marked. Walkie-talkies are great for keeping in contact with each other.

Saving Money.
At the theme park, everything is expensive. Save money by bringing in a few beverages and non-perishable snacks like granola bars or trail mix. Most parks will allow a small cooler if you have small children; some even recommend it! Check for deals on theme park tickets online before you go. I saved $20 on my Disney tickets by going through Travelocity. Call ahead to see what kind of deals they have at the gate. Often you can get a discount if using a certain credit card or auto club membership. The more days you buy, the better the discounts.

Relax, and go have some fun!

You can find more theme park tips at Stephany's website, BestKidFriendlyTravel.com. She enjoys the rewards and challenges of exploring new cities, and the hilarious situations parenting brings her way.

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