Amusement parks are meant for exactly what the name implies — amusement. But when you're visiting with kids, a fun-filled day of family entertainment can quickly morph into an experience scarier and more nauseating than even the fastest of roller coasters. Prepare your kids (and yourself) with the following tips, and you'll be able to sit back, relax, and actually enjoy the ride.
1. Prepare the troops.
Roller coasters that look like fun while you're standing on the ground can be terrifying once you're flying through the air. When planning your family's first trip to an amusement park, let the kids watch a few roller coaster videos so that they have a better idea of what to expect.
2. Know the height requirements before you go.
By researching height requirements, you can (hopefully) avoid tantrums at the park. Visit the park's website in advance to determine which of your children are tall enough for various rides, and let your kids know before you go if there are rides they aren't yet tall enough to experience.
3. Start small.
There's no reason to head immediately to the highest coaster if your kids have never been on the swings in kiddie town. Try a few of the smaller, kid-friendly rides first, and then work your way up to anything with a name like Tower of Terror.
4. Power up.
Most amusement parks require lots of walking, and little legs can tire quickly. Food is fuel, so don't forget to stop and eat at regular intervals. Park regulations may prevent you from packing a picnic, but it's totally worth it to budget a little extra for the high cost of a meal if you'll be able to avoid whining and major meltdowns.
If you're planning to stand in a particularly long line, consider buying a special snack like a funnel cake or a frozen lemonade to enjoy while you wait. The time will pass much more quickly.
5. Play it safe.
Amusement parks are filled with fun, but they can also be crowded and dangerous. Be sure everyone in your family understands theme park safety, and knows what to do in case they get separated from the group.
6. Have fun.
Parenting, with its inevitable ups and downs and stomach-churning moments, is more of a roller coaster than you'll find in any amusement park, and as adults, we're so used to worrying about details and predicting possible problems that we forget to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
But enjoying the ride is what amusement parks are all about, so forget your worries, channel your inner child, and remember why you're there in the first place — to have fun!