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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Taking kids to an amusement park

If you saw the picture I posted yesterday, you know that we took our first family trip to Cedar Point yesterday. We have season passes and will be spending a week there in a little less than a month (SO excited by the way), but thought we would test the waters on a smaller scale before jumping in for a week with 3 kids, and I'm so glad we did!

I'm still a novice at taking kids to an amusement park, but here are some things I learned first hand from our little trip yesterday.

1. Pack a lunch
Food there is so overpriced, this is one we knew before going. We packed a small cooler and left it in the car. When we were wiped out from walking and riding rides we took a break in the car with our food. If it wasn't so cold there were lots of picnic tables available, but it was a little windy so we had a picnic in the car.

2. Bring a stroller or a wagon
Even if your kids want to walk, or your wearing your baby, having a place to put your stuff is key. You can't take it on rides, someone has to stand with the kids who can't ride anyway, so make it easier for them and put everything in a stroller instead of having to carry it around and chase the 2 year old who keeps running away.

It's also a safe shady place for a baby to take a nap. I really enjoy baby wearing, but wearing a baby and keeping them completely out of the sun is difficult. This also let me be able to ride some of the bigger rides with Nathan.
Taking a nap while we walked around

3. Get a parent swap pass
Lots of parks have passes where one parent waits in line, then as soon as they are done the second one can without having to wait again. Even if you are unsure if you will be riding or not, get one when you first walk in just in case you see a short line and want to jump in quickly. Even saving 15-20 minutes is HUGE when you are there with little kids.

4. If YOU want to ride rides, get on one the very first thing when you enter the park
While they kids are still happy to be there and not crying and laying on the ground ride something you would like to. If you're waiting for the perfect time later in the won't happen.

5. Put some snacks and water bottles in your diaper bag
I know they say no food, but most likely they won't check your bag (they didn't for us) and a little break with snacks can re-energize tired kids. You will want to have easy access to water to keep the kids hydrated.

6. Put all expensive/personal items together in a small bag inside the diaper bag
There are a few family rides everyone can go on, even with a baby, which means leaving the stroller. To avoid losing that expensive camera, or your wallet, put them all in a small bag that you can take with you on the ride without having to worry while you are gone.

7. Have a plan
Decide ahead of time what you want (or the kids want) to ride the most and work your way through it in a logical order to avoid walking halfway across the park several time. It saves time and energy

8. Take advantage of the shows and children's programs
It's nice to take a break and sit down while the kids are entertained.

9. Start slow
We learned the hard way, Noah does NOT like rides. And a toddler screaming the entire time "I NOT LIKE THIS" sort of ruins the ride for everyone else on it.
He did this for everything we went on.

10. Wear layers
And bring extra clothes. Temps can change throughout the day, and since you have that stroller you can put lots of extras in it. Yesterday was chilly for us, so it was nice to be able to throw on some jackets as the day went on.

11. Go early, or go on a weekday
From previous experience, the earlier in the day, the less crowded it is. And week days are FAR less crowded than weekends. We went on a Friday and it was awesome. Even with the approaching holiday weekend I didn't see a line longer than an hour and that was for the big rides. Most of the coasters were only about 15-30 minutes wait to ride, and the kids didn't have to wait at all to ride anything.
Finally happy with a ride!

I'm sure I'll come up with a lot more as we head up for more trips, but here is what worked best for us for a stress free afternoon at an amusement park with a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a 4 month old.

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