10 Rules for Visiting Theme Parks With Kids

Julie Ryan Evans | Jun 3, 2013 Big Kid

rollercoaster theme park

Theme parks can be some of the most thrilling, amazing, fun-filled destinations for families. They can also be some of the most exhausting, frustrating, and disappointing ones if you don't plan correctly.

Living in the Orlando area for the past five years, I've done my share of theme park time, and I've learned a lot since my first novice days that I wish I'd known then. Here are 10 tips to make your next visit to a theme park with kids more enjoyable for everyone.

What tips would you add?

theme park tips

Image via Karyn Christner/Flickr and © Brocreative/Shutterstock

  • 1. Comfort before style

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    Image via orbandprincess/Flickr

    Especially when it comes to shoes, comfort is key. There's nothing worse than a kid who doesn't want to walk because of blisters. That goes for parents too.

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  • 2. Bring entertainment for standing in lines

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    Image via emilygracephotography/Flickr

    Waiting in line is pretty much part of the deal, so come armed with distractions. Whether it's a mental list of games to play to pass the time ("I Spy", etc.) or small pens and paper for younger kids, you'll be happy you did.

  • 3. Plan your priorities

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    Image via jgoforth/Flickr

    Take a few minutes either online before you hit the park or with a map once you get there to plan out what you want to do most. Just heading out randomly might mean you miss the good stuff.

  • 4. Set expectations

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    Image via popculturegeek/Flickr

    Tell them ahead of time if they will (or will not) be allowed to purchase snacks or souvenirs, or if they'll be able to play games that cost extra money. These opportunities to drop cash beyond the entrance fee are everywhere, and setting things straight up front can cut down on endless begging.

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  • 5. Ask for recommendations

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    Image © Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

    Poll friends and families or scout about online for tips and tricks on specific parks. Best rides, best restaurants, what's worth waiting for etc.

  • 6. Plan for the elements

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    Image via earthlydelights/Flickr

    Sunscreen is a must every day, even when there are clouds. Rain slickers and spare clothes are a good idea too if the forecast shows any signs of showers ... and even if it doesn't.

  • 7. Safety first

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    Image via popculturegeek/Flickr

    Sure, they're some of the happiest places on Earth, but theme parks are still filled with strangers. Don't let kids wander by themselves, and make sure that younger ones have some sort of identification on them in case they get lost.

  • 8. Take breaks

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    Image © bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

    It's understandable that you want to cram in as much as possible, but sometimes heading back to the hotel for a couple of hours to recharge means you'll have more energy to pack more in later.

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  • 9. Remain calm

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    Image © Eric. YC. Liu/Shutterstock

    No matter what happens, remember you're there to have fun. Set an example for your kids and just go with the flow. The only real goal -- making fun family memories.

  • 10. Don't forget where you parked

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    Image © Mariusz Szczygiel/Shutterstock

    Seriously, there's nothing worse than coming off a long, exhausting day and not being able to find your car. Take a picture with a phone if you must or write it down, but don't forget.

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