7 Tips for Visiting an Amusement Park With Your Toddler
You’ve probably been imagining your child’s first trip to Disney World since you found out you were pregnant. Now that he or she has reached the toddler years, it may be time to start planning a first amusement park trip. However, when it comes to taking toddlers to crowded spaces, the idea is not to go big or go home. Follow this tips instead.
1. Try a Practice Run First
Before planning a long trip to a large amusement park that is far away, consider trying a smaller one near your home just to see how your toddler will react. It can be as simple as taking him or her to a carousel at the mall or visiting a small carnival in your area to test out the crowds, lights and rides. This will get your child used to the new sights and sounds, help them learn how to wait in line and determining if a larger amusement park could be too much sensory overload for your son or daughter.
2. Plan Which Park to Visit
If your toddler does well at the smaller park, you can begin to plan a trip to a larger one. While it may be tempting to head to a larger amusement park, the rides are often geared toward older children and adults. Instead, consider regional parks that usually have more rides for smaller children. Most amusement parks have websites that provide information such as:
- Maps of the park
- Admission hours and prices
- Special events
- Advance tickets
- Schedules of character appearances
- List of amenities
- Guidelines and policies
The amount of information will allow you to begin creating a budget, decide if you'd like to visit on a certain day so you can see a specific character or experience a special event and ensure the amenities and guidelines fall in line with what your family will require to have a safe and fun day. By planning your trip in advance, you may even be able to get discounted prices by purchasing ahead of time. Researching ahead of time will also allow you to create a priority list of things you must do at the park, things you will do if you have enough time and things you can skip.
3. Consider When You Visit
When you visit an amusement park is just as important as which one you go to. If you'd like to avoid as many of the crowds as possible, visit the park during the off-season and in the middle of the week. If you want to go to a major park, aim for the beginning or end of the season. Once you decide on a target week or weekend to visit, consider the time of day. The earlier in the morning you go, the fewer crowds there will be. Your toddler is also likely to be in a better mood in the morning after having had a good night's sleep.
4. Pack the Essentials
Whether you are going to the amusement park for a single day or plan to go for the weekend, it is important to pack the essentials for your trip. If the park is far from home, make sure you pack plenty of snacks and entertainment items. If your toddler is still in diapers or pull-ups, make sure you bring plenty of spares and a package of wipes. A change of clothes is also important just in case a wardrobe malfunction occurs. Other items to pack include:
- A swimsuit, towel and water shoes if attending a water park
- Cell phone chargers or extra batteries so you don't miss picture opportunities
- Refillable water bottles
- Extra snacks
- Soothing items in case your toddler gets tired
In addition to these items, don't forget to bring the stroller and plenty of sunscreen. Remember, sunburns can happen even on cloudy days.
5. Use Identification to Protect Your Child
Any time you take your small children to a crowded place, you should take precautions to ensure their safety. Begin by dressing the entire family in the same color T-shirt, which makes it easier to spot your little one if he or she begins to wander off. It is also important to find a way to identify your child. Consider pinning information inside of a pocket or putting an ID on their wrist. Include their name, your name and cell phone numbers where you or your partner can be reached. If your toddler is old enough to talk to people, teach them what the employees of the park look like and how to ask for help if they become separated from you.
6. Dress Comfortably
Just because your local meteorologist says it’s going to be sunny and 70 degrees doesn’t mean it’s going to be sunny and 70 degrees. Mother Nature is unpredictable and temperatures and winds fluctuate throughout the day, so it is important to dress in layers. Even if the day begins as a warm one, the temperature could drop toward evening, so bring a jacket for your little one in case he or she gets chilly. Don’t forget hats and sunglasses and be sure that everyone wears comfortable walking shoes that secure with laces or Velcro. May rides won’t allow riders who are wearing sandals or flip-flops.
7. Buy a Weekend Pass
If you plan to take your toddler to a larger amusement park, don’t try to do it all in one day. The result will likely be an overtired child who becomes grumpy and makes siblings and parents grumpy in the process. Instead, purchase a weekend pass and spread your activities out over the span of Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday. The entire family will have more fun because nobody will feel rushed to see it all in one day. This is also an optimal idea if you are taking older children who may put up an argument about leaving early if you are only staying one day. They are less likely to be disappointed or upset if they know they’re coming back the next day.
Above all else, when taking your toddler to an amusement park, follow his or her lead. If it’s evident that your child is sleepy or no longer having fun, take time to rest and have a meal. An air-conditioned car or your nearby hotel room is also an excellent napping space. Don’t forget to follow KAMO on social media! You can find us on Twitter (@kamo_family), Facebook (kamofamily) and Instagram (kamofamily).