Visiting a theme park this summer? Here are ten tips to help you make the most of your day.
1. Go early. Especially if youíve got young kids, time your arrival for the opening of the gate. Not only will it be cooler, your kids will be more rested and the crowds will be lighter.
2. Or go late. Older kids will enjoy getting to the park in the late afternoon, having an early dinner, and strolling through the park at dusk when the lights come on. Some parks even offer discounted admission for late day entries. As an added bonus, you wonít be standing in line during the hottest part of the day.
3. Go on a weekday. Weekdays (particularly early in the week) are often less crowded than weekends.
4. Bring amusements for the lines. If you expect to wait in long lines, warn the kids beforehand and bring stuff with you to keep them amused, such as non-messy snacks, picture books, or small toys.
5. Divide and conquer. Mom can take the older kids on the roller coaster while Dad watches the little ones on the carousel. Theme park vacations donít work terribly well as ďall-togetherĒ days, especially in families with a wide age range so the best plan may be to split up for part of the day.
6. Bring water. Theme parks have varying rules about outside food, but if you can bring your own water youíll save considerable cash. Try freezing a few bottles and stashing them in a soft sided cooler for a cold drink when it gets sweltering. Flavored water is a healthier alternative to sugary sodas.
7. Prioritize and plan. Pick up park brochures and maps ahead of time or pull up the parkís website and peruse it with your kids. Let everyone pick a few favorite rides and attractions. Plan on hitting new or popular rides early in your visit.
8. Wear good shoes. Avoid flip-flops (they may not be allowed on all rides) or other loose shoes. Young children especially should wear shoes with a good tread for navigating stairs and climbing into rides.
9. Check height restrictions first. To avoid disappointment, make sure kids know ahead of time that they are too short (or too tall) for certain rides to avoid disappointment.
10. Donít do it all. You probably wonít have time for every ride and itís best to just accept that at the start. If your kids are in love with a particular ride, go ahead and let them ride it several times. You can always come back.