What are some tips for going to a theme park with a preschooler? Pre-School Travel

Tips from moms and experts alike on going to a theme park with a preschooler.

Get the Lay of the Land 

Visiting a theme park can be overwhelming for a toddler. His senses are simulated in new ways and Mom and Dad are excited and running around. Early in the day, locate the baby care centers so you know where to head for a calm diaper change, breastfeeding session, or baby food warming. Include a break every couple of hours, where baby can walk around and spend some energy. Most theme parks have playgrounds for young children, or a wide open area where toddlers can let some...

Visiting a theme park can be overwhelming for a toddler. His senses are simulated in new ways and Mom and Dad are excited and running around. Early in the day, locate the baby care centers so you know where to head for a calm diaper change, breastfeeding session, or baby food warming. Include a break every couple of hours, where baby can walk around and spend some energy. Most theme parks have playgrounds for young children, or a wide open area where toddlers can let some steam off. As always, make sure your toddler stays hydrated and is dressed for the elements - whether heat, rain, or cold.  - Laura, Family Travel Blogger at Frugal for Luxury, @frugalforluxury


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Give them Some Power

Remember that it can be super exciting and totally overwhelming! I recommend getting a map right away and letting them pick out a place where they want to go, let them lead the path, give them some power in planning! Once you get a bit of buy in they will know what to expect and feel more in control. If you are going to do souvenirs communicate that BEFORE entering into the park—let them know when and what they can get! Then when they get distracted remind them “You are...

Remember that it can be super exciting and totally overwhelming! I recommend getting a map right away and letting them pick out a place where they want to go, let them lead the path, give them some power in planning! Once you get a bit of buy in they will know what to expect and feel more in control. If you are going to do souvenirs communicate that BEFORE entering into the park—let them know when and what they can get! Then when they get distracted remind them “You are getting a surprise when we leave at 4pm! It’s going to be so exciting!” - MegAnne Ford, Certified Parent Coach at Be Kind Coaching, @bekindcoaching

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Don't Push Them

Follow their lead, don't push them because meltdowns will occur. Plan for less stimulating activities such as a playground or pool at the hotel. - Lakita Leonard, Travel Agent at Fun Travels by Lakita

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Discuss the Details Ahead of Time

I prepare my daughter in advance for every trip we take, whether it’s to a theme park, a cultural/ historical destination or an outdoor/nature centered activity. We talk about all the details in advance and I show her pictures or videos of the place we’re going. That helps prepare her brain for what we’re going to do so there’s less shock at being out of routine. And sometimes, it makes her a little excited about certain aspects. Prior to going to Disney World, we watched videos of the...

I prepare my daughter in advance for every trip we take, whether it’s to a theme park, a cultural/ historical destination or an outdoor/nature centered activity. We talk about all the details in advance and I show her pictures or videos of the place we’re going. That helps prepare her brain for what we’re going to do so there’s less shock at being out of routine. And sometimes, it makes her a little excited about certain aspects. Prior to going to Disney World, we watched videos of the parade, looked at pictures of the castle, talked about lines and crowds and how you can’t do things quickly but it’s worth the wait. Then, in the moment when she’s getting cranky about standing in line or she’s hot and not feeling waiting for the parade, I remind her of what we talked about. And once she experiences the happiness of the ride or seeing the characters, I point out how great that was and that’s why it was worth the wait or the heat.

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Plan the Rides Ahead of Time

Know where the baby stations are (Disney parks have wonderful Baby Centers that are clean and convenient, and have toddler sized potties). Figure out in advance which rides they’ll be able to go on so you’re not wandering around in frustration. Snack often. Theme parks can be so overstimulating, so take a nice break for lunch or find a quiet corner of the park to have a snack. Also, go to the park at opening if possible, to get as much done before the crowds build as possible.


Know where the baby stations are (Disney parks have wonderful Baby Centers that are clean and convenient, and have toddler sized potties). Figure out in advance which rides they’ll be able to go on so you’re not wandering around in frustration. Snack often. Theme parks can be so overstimulating, so take a nice break for lunch or find a quiet corner of the park to have a snack. Also, go to the park at opening if possible, to get as much done before the crowds build as possible.


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Bring Distractions for Long Lines

Take some stuff in your backpack to help entertain them while in lines. Also, snacks! And don't expect to have the same experience you would without kids.

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