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Tips To Have The Best Time At Theme Parks

Theme parks can be challenging for kids (and parents) – here’s how you can work smarter, not harder.

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Whether you’ve been planning a week-long family vacation at a theme park for months or woke up this morning and decided the local amusement park would be a fun way to spend the day, these simple steps ensure everyone has as much fun (with as little chaos) as possible.

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Set a budget

Going in without a number (or even a range) in mind is a rookie mistake, and you're going to spend way more than you thought. Factor in meals, treats, souvenirs, parking, tickets, rentals, and anything else you’ll need throughout the day.

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Plan as much as you can in advance

This includes buying tickets (you can generally do this online), securing times for particular rides or shows (ditto), and familiarizing yourself with the park so you’ll know what rides to hit (and when).

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Make sure everyone picks a must-do ride

Large park + long line + little legs = you might not get to do everything. Make sure everyone is able to hit at least one of their top choice rides by making a plan and trying to do those first.

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Prepare for the elements

And by that we mean bring sunscreen (even if it’s not particularly hot or sunny), layers of clothing, and a change clothing, especially if there are water rides. (No one wants to deal with a surly, soggy toddler.)

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Choose your backpack wisely

A backpack is a must at an amusement park, and you want to look for a few key features: lightweight, multiple pockets (ideally one for wet or soiled items), brightly colored (easy to spot), with comfortable straps.

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Pack treats

This doesn’t mean your family won’t get any park treats, but you don’t want to depend on their pricey snacks. Bring fun things – maybe something they don’t always get at home – to soften the blow of saying “No” to a $12 cotton candy.

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Pick a kid, any kid!

It can sometimes be easier to designate a parent to a particular child (or children) to ensure everyone is being kept track of. This can change throughout the day, but should be verbalized to avoid confusion. ("I'm taking X, do you have Y?")

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Plan for the worst

It can be easy to lose track of a child at a theme park, so “tag” them (with customized tattoos, sharpies, or other genius idea) to make it easy for you to reunite. Hopefully this won’t be an issue, but if it is, you’ll be glad you did.

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Leave time for hotel fun

If you’re staying at or near the park, enjoying hotel amenities is a great way to take a park break, cool down, and relax. Chances are your kid got excited when they saw the pool.

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Load up on wipes

Whether or not you still have a little one in diapers, you’re going to want to make sure you have a healthy supply of baby wipes. Between sticky treats, dirty hands, and cleaning grungy tables, these are going to be your best friend.

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Take a picture of your parking spot

“Don’t worry about it; I’ll remember.”

Friend. You’ll think you’ll remember, but you won’t. It takes three seconds. Just take a picture.

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Bring a charger

If you have a power bank charger, bring it along. If you don’t, it might be worth the investment. Between making sure everyone can get in touch and entertaining kids with apps on long lines, you don’t want to be without a phone.

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Don’t force your child to go on a ride

Even if it’s a “baby ride” & “not scary.” Even if you know they would like it. Let them decide what’s scary and not scary for themselves — everyone will have a better time this way.