Theme Park Tips: Enjoying This Summer’s Excursions

June 4th, 2013 posted by Amanda Formaro

Theme Park Tips: Enjoying This Summer's Excursions -

Summer is here and theme parks, water parks, family fun centers, zoos, aquariums, and museums will be expecting more than 300 million people to visit! That means crowds and long lines and let’s face it, stress! Whether you love them or hate them, theme parks and water parks are at the tippy top of the vacation wish list of children all over the country.

We all know that the advertisements that depict happy, sweat-free families is just that, an advertisement. They’re expensive and exhausting, not to mention frustrating (the lines!). However, they’re also a lot of fun and create lasting family memories, that is, as long as you plan smart. Here’s how:

1. Virtual Tours – Many theme parks offer virtual tours on their websites now. Before planning your visit sit down at the computer or tablet with the kids so you can decide where you want to go first. Everyone should get to choose at least one attraction each day.

2. Check for Coupons – Be sure to visit the theme park website and that town’s local tourism site (like for valuable coupons that can save you money on your admission. You can also get discounts through AAA, if you are a member, and sometimes even from your employers.

3. Express Pass – If your budget allows for it, opt for front of the line passes that will save you time, or sign on with a VIP guide. Many theme parks offer these now and they can sometimes make the entire trip more special. You can take advantage of free programs, like Disney’s FastPass, that allow you to avoid long waits by getting a ticket with a specific time to return to the ride-and go to the front of the line. Stay at a Disney hotel and you will be able to enter the parks earlier. Stay at a Universal Orlando resort and your room key guarantees you front of the line privileges.

4. Bring Your Stroller – If you have younger children, it’s much more cost effective to bring your own than it is to rent one. Strollers are great for carrying souvenirs, snacks and extra clothing as well.

5. Sun Protection – Be sure to slather on the sunscreen and make sure you all get out of the sun periodically. Floppy hats are great as are sun glasses, and be sure to stay hydrated. Here’s some great ideas for summer safety for the family who is on the go.

6. Water and Snacks – Be sure to bring reusable water bottles, several healthy snacks and a lunch. Not only will you save money and eat healthier, but you won’t be waiting in long lines for food when the kids are hungry.

7. Change of Clothes – It’s always a good idea to bring along a change of clothes in case the kids get soaked on the water rides. Pack light, shorts and tank tops fit nicely into plastic freezer bags. Have the kids wear flip flops for those rides as well.

8. Make Reservations – If you plan to have dinner at the park, or want to enjoy a sit-down lunch, be sure to book reservations ahead. Theme park restaurants often have lines that rival their rides!

9. Ride Safe – Don’t try sneaking kids onto a ride when they don’t meet the height requirements, and never let them ride alone when they shouldn’t. These rules are in place to protect your children. Seat a younger child on the inside and make sure they keep their hands and feet inside at all times.

10. Don’t Be a Bully – It’s natural for children to be afraid of something they haven’t tried yet. Never force a child to ride an attraction if they are frightened, even if you’ve waited in line. Don’t tease a child about their fear or try making fun to lighten the mood. Remember, you can always return later or next season.

11. Splitting Up and Meeting Up – If you have a variety of age groups in your family, splitting up and agreeing to meet somewhere at a specific time is a great way to keep everyone happy. Be sure to keep in touch via cell phone. It’s a good idea to have a designated meeting place in case you get separated. Be sure the kids know to seek out someone in a uniform who is working should they get lost. On a card, write your name, cell phone numbers, the name and hotel where you are staying and put it in each child’s pocket. If they get lost, they may get upset and can’t remember your name beyond “mommy,” much less where you are staying!

12. Souvenirs – Be sure that you discuss the souvenir budget in advance. Encourage the kids to start a collection-like pins, patches, stickers or autographs.

13. Leave When You’re Tired – Be sure to recognize the signs that say it’s time to go. When you and the kids have had enough, head out of the park and spend some time relaxing at the hotel or in the pool.

We all have visions of taking our families on magical vacations. While things don’t always turn out as you planned, you can certainly make things easier by planning ahead.

The information in this article was obtained from Eileen Ogintz of Taking The Kids, a website about traveling with families. Visit their best summer vacations section for more.

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Amanda Formaro (345 Posts)

Amanda Formaro is a freelance writer, editor, craft designer, and recipe developer. She loves multi-tasking and has been writing and working on the Internet since 1997. You can find her at You’ll find her craft projects at and her recipes on

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Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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