The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Theme Park with Your Kids

Planning a trip to your favorite kingdom of magic? Read THIS guide to surviving a theme park with children before you go!

So you look at the title and think “why would I need to know how to survive a theme park with children?” When you’re planning that trip, “surviving” it is the furthest thing from your mind. Taking a trip to a theme park is supposed to be fun, right? I mean, we budget and save all year long to take that awesome family vacation to a magical kingdom, a land of thrills and chills or even just the closest park with the biggest coaster in your state. For months before the trip, it’s all your child talks about. They’re going to finally meet their favorite princess! They’ll ride the loop-de-loop 250 times! It will be epic!

Then you arrive. They freak out when they see the giant mouse up close. They stand in line for two hours to ride the legendary loop-de-loop, only to back out at the last minute. They cry because they want a $9 ice-cream cone, even after you told them that you wouldn’t be eating at all in the park. They’re hot. They’re cold. They’re mad because it’s too loud. They’re mad because it’s too quiet.

Theme parks are incredibly fun, yet also incredibly overwhelming for kids. Honestly, they’re incredibly overwhelming for most adults! Between the noise, the endless lines and the fact that everything is so expensive that you have to say “no, sorry, you can’t have that” more than usual, if you don’t have a plan, a fun day can quickly turn into a disaster. Check out our guide on how to survive a theme park with children!

Related: 5 Coolest Theme Park Family Vacation Destinations Outside the U.S.

How to Survive a Theme Park With Children

Set the Ground Rules Early

Before you ever step foot in that theme park, you’ll need to have some ground rules. Talk to your kids about what they can and can’t have while they’re visiting the park. For example, if you’re planning your trip around meal time and don’t want to eat in the park, make sure they understand that. Food is very expensive in just about every theme park. I wasn’t exaggerating about the $9 ice-cream cone. A little container of french fries can cost as much as $8. Even a bottle of water can run up to $4. Same goes for souvenirs. Set a budget for each child and make sure they understand it.

Conquer Fears Before You Leave

Your child may seem fearless during the planning process, but when it comes to stepping foot on that crazy rollercoaster, it might bring on some anxiety. If your kids have any fears or hesitations about trying a ride, do some research online. Some theme parks offer virtual rides so your child can “practice” without fear. It’s also easy to find videos and clips of rides via Youtube or a simple search.

Find a Quiet Area to Take a Break

Theme parks and designed to make you feel the rush of the rides and the excitement of park. Over time, the constant exhilaration can take a toll on your family. Make time for a break from the crowds and energy-packed atmosphere. Disney parks are very family-friendly and even feature quiet places for mothers to breastfeed. Universal Studios in Orlando has a few spots that to escape the bustle. Try enjoying a Pumpkin Juice on the back patio of the Three Broomsticks. It’s typically quiet and gives you a stunning view of the Hogwarts castle.

Choose Water and Slather on Sunscreen Often

The heat is a contender to keeping your family happy. A tired toddler will quickly become a very unhappy camper when you add heat to the mix. Instead of sodas or those delicious park lemonades, choose water. Bring your water bottle. The sugar in the drinks will only cause more irritability and lead to a sugar crash. A sunburn will quickly ruin any experience, so don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen often. There is a lot of debate surround the SPF level, so check with your family doctor for the best sun protection to fit your family’s needs. Just make sure you are reapplying every 2 hours.

Pack Your Snacks

It’s tempting to indulge in funnel cakes, elephant ears, and ice cream, but eating too much junk will only lead to upset stomachs. Pack healthy snacks for your family and then limit everyone – mom and dad included – to just one theme park treat. It will save money and a trip to the nurse’s station for a sick stomach.

Pace Yourselves

It’s easy to reason that you’ve spent months saving and want to soak up every moment of being in the theme park with your family. However, you won’t enjoy the fun family moments if you don’t pace yourself. Making sure you try every ride and sit through every show can’t realistically be done in a day. Create a game plan for spending time at the theme park with your family that includes plenty of time for breaks, snack time, and maybe even a nap for tinier tots.

Making sure your family survives a theme park trip involves a bit of planning. However, visiting a theme park with toddlers, teens, and every age in between can be done without meltdowns and frustration. With a little research, a game plan, and these tips to surviving a theme park with your children, you’re ready for the adventure!

Have you taken a trip to a big park before? Tell us your tips on how to survive a theme park with children!

18 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Theme Park with Your Kids”

  1. I love going to theme parks with my kids. I always take a picture of them before we enter the park. That way I have a recent picture of them and what they’re wearing. Just in case

  2. Spending time with children at theme parks are always exciting & so much fun, but it is very important to plan it better & these are some great tips to make sure the fun could last for ever. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for these tips. My kids are all grown up now so it would not be as difficult as it was when they were young. I will have to share this post with my cousins and sisters. They still have small children who are really a handful when we go to theme parks.

  4. Oh gosh, it’s always a whirlwind with the kids in a theme park, but it’s also very fun! I think my concern will always be where the nearest bathroom is. Lol.

  5. I have been to many theme parks. We have such a blast. I think the key to not totally tiring yourself out is find a air conditioned place that you can sit and watch a show for an hour or so. It cools you off and you can sit quietly.

  6. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    We always bring a boatload of snacks with us. Hungry kids are cranky kids and theme park food is so over priced.

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