I'm almost positive that if you surveyed a group of moms they'd all agree on one thing: spending an entire day at an amusement park is their own personal hell. The heat, the lines, the meltdowns--it can be pretty overwhelming.
I've forgotten an extra pair of clothes and of course, that's the day an accident happened. I've let Brooks' have an extra sweet treat which ended in a full-blown sugar meltdown. I've even trekked an entire day across Disneyland in the beating sun with a hurt foot. Luckily, I've lived to tell the tale!
It's inevitable, though. If you have children you will someday find yourself here. Trust me, we weren't prepared the first time and I learned my lesson.
Here are some tricks I've learned along the way to navigate through an amusement park with kids...and survive it:
1. Pack A "Survival" Kit:
This is so, so, so important. You never want to be stuck without the necessities! When heading to the amusement park, pack supplies like you would on a long trip. It sounds dramatic but trust me! Fill a roomy tote bag with an extra set of clothes for each kid, medicines, lots of sunscreen, bottles of water, sun hats, hand sanitizer, and bandaids. Throw a couple Advil in there for the adults, too!
2. Anticipate A Meltdown Before It Happens:
As a mom, you know when a meltdown is well on it's way. It's like our sixth sense! Before any temper tantrums occur, prepare for them. Do you have a toddler that refuses to ride in the stroller and insists on walking? Bring a stroller anyway. The meltdowns at our house usually occur due to exhaustion so never skip nap time if you don't have to. That's when that stroller comes in handy! If you don't use it, it can be used to store your belongings. But, let's be honest--we always end up using it.
If you know your little one gets overwhelmed quickly, keep it low-key. Even though you spent good money on these tickets, it's better to leave early than to cause a tantrum. If you are visiting the park with only toddlers, try to stick solely to the areas that apply to them.
3. Bring A Backup (Or Two!):
In other words, make sure the ratio is always more adults than children. It helps tremendously to have an extra pair of eyes, ears, and hands to watch over everything. If that's not possible, try to leave the younger ones at home. Since it's just Scott and I, we try to schedule our trips to the amusement park around when family will be in town. Even my momma came along last time! She's always up for an adventure.
4. Try To Refill On Water At Every Stop:
Walking around in the hot sun all day with little to no shade is a recipe for disaster. To avoid dehydration, make sure to always have extra water bottles on hand. Even if you feel like you're fully stocked, you'll always end up needing more. To keep it eco-friendly, pack your own filtered water bottles (like these) that can be refilled at any water fountain around the park.
5. If Possible, Hire A Tour Guide:
This changes the whole experience. Many parks offer personal guides for families that either need a little assistance or want a curated, behind-the-scenes tour. This can be a saving grace especially for people with big families or traveling in a large group. When buying your tickets (which you should always do beforehand!), make sure to ask about any special programs or tours that make navigating the park less overwhelming.
If tours aren't available, plan to be your own guide. Study the maps and attractions days before so you know where and what you'd like to see. It helps to know the lay of the land before arriving! This is especially important if you are taking children under the height limit for most rides. Make sure you double-check that a kids area is available. I don't think there's anything worse than a bored toddler at an amusement park!
6. Make Lunch & Dinner Reservations Prior:
Since many parks are located in high-traffic areas, the wait times for tables can be extremely long. You've been waiting all day in lines--you won't be in the mood to wait again and neither will your kids. Get them fed as soon as possible by setting reservations in advance. It also helps keep the day on a solid schedule!
7. If You're Having Fun, They'll Have Fun:
As much as you might be dreading it, put on a brave face. These will be the childhood memories you and your little ones will cherish forever! The more playful and interactive you are, the better the experience will be for everyone.
Good luck, everyone!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.