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10 Tips for Taking Toddlers to a Family Theme Park

Last weekend, I took Mazzy to Sesame Place. In total, we had an awesome time. But taking a toddler to a busy place that is filled with both fun-looking rides and ridiculously long lines is bound to have both it’s highs and lows.

The following are 10 tips that will ensure your family’s trip to a theme park is as much fun as possible.

1. Bring a stroller. Even if your kid likes to walk everywhere. Parks can be crowded and overstimulated kids get conked out. Plus, you can always use it to carry your bags if your child refuses to sit in it.

2. Do your research. Find out if there is a preferred parking area. At Sesame Place, preferred parking was right next to the front gate, very contained and only $3 more. Look into character breakfasts which I, unfortunately, didn’t know about until after we got home. The character breakfasts usually start an hour before the park opens. This way your kid gets to meet and have her picture taken with all her favorite characters before the day even begins. Afterwards, you’ll have free reign over the park for a good 1/2 hour before the doors open.

3. Measure your child’s height before you leave the house. That way you won’t get their hopes up by making them stand against the “you must be this tall to ride this ride” signs. Also, when your toddler is safely occupied on their first ride with your spouse or someone else in your party, use the time to scope out the area and find out which rides your kid can and can’t go on. That way, you can steer clear of anything that looks exciting but your toddler is too small to ride.

4. Bring sunscreen and plenty of snacks. Food and drinks add up, there aren’t the healthiest choices and you want to make sure you have something on hand that your child will eat.

5. Take in a show after lunch. It’s the perfect thing to do while your kid is still digesting lunch. Think of it as a nap alternative, since you know you’ve given up on that little reprieve for the day.

6. Take advantage of shorter lines during parade time. Some toddlers love parades. Mine is not a big fan of standing still. We chose to use this time to hit the busier rides since half the parkgoers were otherwise occupied.

7. This one might be obvious but if you don’t want to buy your kid anything, don’t take him into the gift shop. If your child wanders in when you’ve got your back turned, lie through your teeth. I told Mazzy that the toys were for playing with in-store.

8. Go with at least one other family if possible. This way one parent can take turns watching both families stuff and the rest of you can all go on rides together.

9. Write your cell phone number somewhere your child (inside their pocket, on a bracelet, etc.) in case you get separated.

10. Don’t overplan. You might have a list of attractions you’d like to hit, but don’t overwhelm your toddler with must-see/must-do activities. Toddlers have the most fun when they are leading the way and setting the pace. Plus, they will never know what they are missing.

Read more of Ilana’s writing at Mommy Shorts. 
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