Visiting the many theme parks abroad is often a dream come true for both parents and children, and is an experience which is sure to make lasting memories. However, in order to make the trip as stress-free as possible, it’s a wise idea to plan your trips to the theme parks carefully in advance. This ensures maximum enjoyment, less time wasted, and a happier family holiday all round.
To make sure that you’re fully prepared we’ve put together some top tips for taking kids to theme parks with help from a team of expert mummy bloggers, whether you’re heading for Disney World or family attractions in Dubai.
Choose the time of year you visit carefully
Before you’ve even booked the holiday, it’s important to consider the time of year that you are visiting, for example in Florida temperatures can reach highs of 33°C. Not only is this a very uncomfortable heat for young children, it can also be dehydrating and tiring for adults too, so water bottles with fans and hats are a must. Most parks will sell these, and they act as a perfect souvenir of your holiday too!
Although it can be tempting to visit holiday destinations during the height of summer, it may hinder your experience due to heat exhaustion and busier attractions. Corinne McDermott from Have Baby Will Traveloffers her best advice for when to book a Florida holiday.
“Consider when you’re visiting, as summer can be hot, really really hot! January can be quite chilly but the parks are very quiet. November, before American Thanksgiving, is an ideal time to go – not too hot, not too crowded. Walt Disney World often have really great park pass offers and free dining options around the quieter times as well.”
- Have Baby Will Travel
Plan in advance
Whether you’re visiting for one week, or two, it’s a great idea to plan which parks you would like to visit before the holiday itself. By doing so, you can then purchase your tickets in advance, meaning that there will be less of a queue on your arrival at the theme park. Also, if you head online and check out the individual websites of the attractions, many provide maps so that you can decide which parts of the park you would like to prioritise. Here, Zena Goldman from Zena’s Suitcase, provides her tips for planning in advance.
“My tip would be to check out reviews and website info, in order to make sure you know which rides you want to go on and what you want to see. If they are popular attractions, you will find some great advice about the best time to queue so you don't miss out!”
- Zena’s suitcase
Although many theme parks will have shops where you can buy everyday essentials, they are more than likely going to be expensive, so packing a bag will not only be handy, but will mean you have more change for souvenirs. Take a look at what Jessica Thornton from Lilypod and Sweetpeaadvises you take along with you when visiting attractions such as Siam Park in Tenerife.
“I would definitely recommend spare clothes for wet rides; baby wipes for sticky ice lollies and a compact stroller for bambino to sit in during those long queues! Advanced tickets are always a great way to avoid the queues and of course be weather appropriate - sun hat and sun cream for sunny days and a rain coat for the not so lovely days!"
- Lilypod and Sweetpea
Visit the attractions in reverse
The majority of attractions will provide you with a map of the area upon arrival, with suggested routes to take around the theme park. Many people will use these as a guideline for their day out, so why not split from the crowd and do your own thing? One of our favourite tips came from Elaine Betteridge, author of Entertaining Elliot, who suggests visiting the attractions in reverse order.
“My top tip for taking kids to theme parks is get a map and see the park the wrong way round! Visitors generally all visit the big rides and attractions first but I have found that by starting with the smaller rides you will miss the crowds and spend less time queuing. Less queuing time = more time for more rides = happy kids!”
- Entertaining Elliot
Rent a stroller
People often underestimate the distance covered when visiting a theme park, with possibilities of walking up to five miles or more each day. For smaller children this will be even more exhausting, and will often result in kids asking to be carried, or tantrums involved with further walking. To make sure this doesn’t happen, why not hire a stroller? Then when it comes to them sitting on your shoulders for parades and shows, you won’t be so tired out! They also become great saving places in a parade and are perfect for keeping kids in sight, so it’s a good job that many parks offer this service.
“Consider a stroller, even if your toddler rarely or never sits in one at home. There is A LOT OF WALKING at Disney and other parks, and we even wish we had one for my six-year-old nephew – who was exhausted but too big to be carried for any length of time.”
- Have Baby Will Travel
Don’t try to do too much at once
It can be very tempting to squeeze in as much as possible in one day to ensure that you’ve seen everything you want to. However, with flexible passes available and certain times of day quieter than others, it can often make sense to mix up your day with a variety of activities, not just at the theme park, but in the surrounding area and your accommodation. Visit your favourite characters in the morning, take a siesta at the hottest time of day, and then return to the park of your choice once you’re refreshed and ready again.
“Don’t overschedule your days. A perk of staying at a Disney resort is it’s much easier to pop back for a swim or a nap if everyone needs a break. And that much easier just to head back to Magic Kingdom for the fireworks or Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios after a leisurely dinner.”
- Have Baby Will Travel
Image credit: Greg Goebel(Flickr.com), Have Baby Will Travel