10 Unexpected Tips for an Awesome Amusement Park Experience


Holiday World

We just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Holiday World, an amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana. And yes. It was every bit as weird and wonderful as it sounds.

Each time we go, we learn something new about how to make our experience better the next time around. And you know I'm not going to keep that information to myself. I went to a true expert to learn 10 secrets that will make your next family amusement park trip even better.

Paula Werne has been the Director of Communications at Holiday World for 21 years and I'm pretty sure she has seen it ALL. She shared with me some of the best lessons she's learned from her time spent in the amusement park trenches:

1. DON’T tell your kids about the visit ahead of time. This can be tough, but Paula makes a good point. If the kids are in the know, rest assured that no one will get any sleep the night before. Yuck. Instead, try surprising them with the news the morning of your visit.

2. Don't forget to put sunscreen on the scalps of your children with super-short or thin hair. "Really," Paula says. "Sunburn hurts and is unhealthy. And it hurts."

amusement park3. A good rule of thumb to stay hydrated in the heat, according to Paula, "Drink until you pee." She adds, "Pay attention to how often your children usually need to go potty. If that schedule isn’t kept during a day in the park, you’ve got dehydrated kids."

4. Don't let your children jam their knees in the vertical railings in the queues and by the rides at many amusement parks. Why? Here's what Paula says will happen:

  a. They get stuck.

  b. ... and it hurts.

  c. It usually takes something oily to slide the knee back out.

  d. Now you’ve lost your place in line.

If they manage to get their knee stuck in there anyway, here's another tip: Sunscreen works well to help grease up their leg and ease it back through the railing.

5. Bring swim shoes for the water park. "Yes, they’re hideous," admits Paula, "but your feet won’t burn on the hot walkways and you’ll feel cleaner walking into restrooms." Good point.

6. Come up with some fun games ahead of time to help pass the time in the ride lines. "They could be word games, counting games, or even this old chestnut, 'A my name is Anna and my husband’s name is Andrew and we live in Anderson and we sell apples,'" Paula says.

7. Don’t forget the live shows. Paula says they’re especially good for some stomach-settling time between eating and hitting the rides again. And if they're indoors, they're a great way for your child to rest for a bit and cool off.

8. This tip might be my favorite. Before you start your day, take a photo of each parent and child from the phone you’ll carry with you all day. "If you get separated, it’ll refresh your memory what each person is wearing," says Paula, "plus, you can show the photo to park staff who are helping you in the search." Brilliant advice.

9. Consider going to the park even if the forecast is iffy. Here are the pluses, according to Paula:

  a. Many will cancel, which means smaller crowds.

  b. No sun means less chance of sunburn.

  c. Many will cancel, which means shorter lines.

  d. Did I mention that many will cancel?

10. This tip is from me. It's the big lesson I learned during our latest amusement park visit. If you're going to a park that has a connecting water park, wear a swim/beach cover-up dress over your bathing suit for the amusement park portion of your visit. Most amusement parks feature rides that get you wet, and those will inevitably be your kids' favorite ones on a hot day. A swim dress is designed to dry quickly. You'll be much more comfortable in it than I was in my soaking-wet denim cutoffs. Even if you're not going to a water park the same day, remember to wear clothing that dries quickly and isn't see-through when wet!

Those are our tips. Now I want to hear yours. What have you learned from your family amusement park experiences?


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B1Bomber B1Bomber

Learn to dodge the lines by knowing the park - most people will walk into the park and head either for the biggest attraction or to the right...go left and hit up all the smaller rides, then grab a snack before getting in line for the bigger ones.

I've never waited more than an hour for any ride, and I've never skipped a ride I wanted to take - Busch Gardens, DisneyWorld, Universal Studios, Cedar Point, King's Dominion - Ive been on all the big coasters and all the smaller, equally fun attractions.

nonmember avatar kaerae

I have to disagree with number one. The best part of vacations and special days as a kid is the anticipation. Little kids who have a regular bedtime might lose an hour or two of sleep, but will make that up in adrenaline and pop, older kids won't miss it. Don't take away their excitement, that's the best part!

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

The only problem I see with number 1 is the future disappointment.... You start thinking your parents always have something up there sleeve and its a huge let down when they don't always... I'd rather kids be informed and lose some sleep. My patents did the announcing the morning of, a lot less fun for the kids. I think it's a good plan for smaller trips but not the big stuff

Linds... LindsayFerrier

Good advice, B1Bomber! We've also learned when we go into a park to head straight for the center or back of the park, where the lines will be far shorter for a few hours. Later, we come back to the entrance rides, where the long lines get much shorter in the afternoon.

As for not telling your kids, it's just a great option to consider, I think-- and it all depends on what kind of kids you have. You have to gauge it yourself. Nothing makes my kids lose sleep, so we generally don't surprise them with information- but when I was a child, I definitely could have benefitted from the surprise element. I remember a lot of sleepless nights before big events!

Tracys2 Tracys2

Way agree on scalp sunblock. We have a special spray for that. My scalp always burns. Ugh!

Water rides early in the day, unless it's really chilly. No lines. Indoor rides that are air-conditioned are good in the afternoon. Restaurants (indoors!) as a cool-off at lunch time, and ride coasters or whatever right after, when lines are shorter.

Agree on a budget ahead of time, even if with little kids, it's "you may have one drink, one lunch and one treat you choose- apart from that, just water". It doesn't get rid of the screaming "I want cotton candy" fits, but it does help a LOT. With big kids, you can talk about costs of things ahead of time, practice math and get them to budget, ie $20 will buy you lunch, a slushy, a cotton candy, and a nachos OR a shirt you can keep and a slice of pizza OR 5 ringtoss games. Which do you prefer? I liked to play math games and figure out the best uses for the money I had to spend. And I never complained about wanting more money.

Good shoes

Wear something with pockets, especially cargo shorts w/velcro pockets. You can keep cards/cash/sunglasses in there, and don't have to leave a purse sitting around in an open bin while you ride, plus it's OK if it gets wet.

Tracys2 Tracys2

I'm with LF- surprise depends on the kids and the type of trip. If it's one day and your kid is like me and gets way over-excited, that day could be ruined (I usually got sick if I was too excited, didn't sleep and felt lousy and couldn't eat at the park). If it's a long trip or your kids can sleep when excited, go for it! Then the value of excitement is greater than the potential loss on the first day

Kings... KingsleysMommy

I don't tell the kids anything. Pack the car the night before, in the morning load the kids in and just go. I have little kids so they fall asleep in the car in 10 minutes. My 4 yr old niece gets way over excited. And can't calm down. She shakes she is so excited. It's adorable. 😊

nonmember avatar NavyWife

I live an hour away from Holiday World, and I love it!!! I'll go there over Disney any day!

MrsRo... MrsRoberts413

And basically, if you're debating between Holiday World and somewhere else close by like King's Island or Six Flags, just remember: HOLIDAY WORLD IS SOOOOO MUCH BETTER!!!! lol  Good rides, enforced dress code (aka, wear a cover-up when you're in the main park, not just your bathing suit), free sunscreen and drinks, clean park, overall just a much better experience.

nonmember avatar allie

Put your cell phone, cash, and anything else you want to keep dry in a Ziplock sandwich bag. I usually take a small cheap purse with individual bags and never have to deal with ruined phones or anything else. Back when I smoked I

put the cigarettes in a bag too, keeps them from getting wet.

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