Whether you’re planning on visiting the world’s most famous cartoon mouse or seeking out an alternate theme park, the prospect of vacationing at an amusement park can seem stressful. With long lines, high ticket prices, and unruly kids, a visit to a theme park can be daunting for many parents. However, theme park enthusiasts and travel experts have identified many ways to take the pain out of a trip to a major park like Disney World, SeaWorld, or Legoland.
The high price of many amusement parks is the first target for optimization. Never opt for single-day passes, if possible, as special deals usually apply to multi-day passes, and always buy online well before the trip, ideally by applying coupon codes or other special offers. Social media sites for theme parks are often great sources of information on deals. Furthermore, it pays to pack for success when visiting a theme park, in order to avoid spending extra money between rides. Anything that you might need in the park, from painkillers to rain gear, should be brought from home or bought ahead of time, as prices inside are often significantly higher. Finally, before leaving, spend some time with a map of the park and set up a plan, especially if you will be chaperoning excited kids. Note your top attractions and rides, and plan the order in which you’ll visit them. In addition, many parks now offer mobile apps that help visitors find rides and restaurants, look up show times and wait times for popular attractions, and even make dining reservations. Check to see if the park you’re visiting offers such an app, and download it before you leave home.
When you arrive at the park, taking a picture of your parking spot on your cell phone can prevent enormous trouble at the end of the day. It’s also important to arrange a meeting place in advance for the entire family to prevent anyone from getting lost. In addition, parents may want to give their children copies of their phone numbers and names; some travel experts recommend writing it on the child’s wrist and protecting the ink with a layer of clear nail polish. Ideally, it’s best to arrive first thing in the morning, when the crowds are smaller and more manageable. Mid-day is usually the busiest time, so many experts recommend arriving early in the morning, leaving the park in the afternoon, and returning late in the day to beat the rush.