It’s going to happen sometime this summer – it will be a fair, or a pair with rides, or what have you. Hitting an amusement park (or parks) with kids in tow can be a total blast, or a bit of a nightmare. We’ve collected some ideas to help you plan ahead.
Tips for surviving amusement parks with kids
Check if your kids can go on the rides
This sounds silly, but it can save you from paying a hefty admission only to find out your kids can only go on the carousel because they’re a bit too short. Most parks have height restrictions on rides, it’s worth measuring everyone and doing some research.
Be ready to wait in line, and then abort
Kids are exceptionally good at getting excited about something, only to realize at the last minute that it’s too scary. Which is fine, but prepare yourself, and have a chat with everyone about what kind of rides would be fun and not too scary.
Explain how games of chance work
Those super tempting giant stuffed animals – and all you have to do is toss a ring around a bottle! A quick lesson in probability (teaching moment!) and some managed expectations when it comes to how often people win these games, can make it more fun and less disappointing.
Plan ahead as a group
Take a look at the rides, games, and live shows at the park you’re thinking of visiting. Talk it through with your family, so everyone has a say in the plan. It’s much, much easier to do this a couple days beforehand than standing just inside the entrance gates, children vibrating with excitement.
Have a timeline
A plan is a good, but so is a timeline. Decide when you’re leaving, and make sure everyone knows. Giving kids an hour left to go allows for a chance to hit that favourite ride, or play the game they spotted at the beginning of the day.
Bring snacks and water
A ready supply of good-for-you snacks and plenty of water is critical. It’s easy to get distracted wandering around the stimulation extravaganza of an amusement park, but you’re also spending the whole day walking outside under the sun. These parks are not generally known as hotbeds of healthy eating, so some carrot sticks make a good counterweight to hot dogs with fried onions, and my personal favourite, mini doughnuts.
Photo credits: Cultus Lake Amusement Park
Erin McGann is the former Managing Editor for Vancouver Mom and Toronto Mom Now. She drinks just a bit too much coffee, is a bit obsessed about sourcing local food, plays the cello moderately well, spends too much time on Twitter, keeps honeybees on a rooftop, and has a thing for single-malt whisky. Erin is working on a novel set in turn-of-the-century Vancouver, which her husband, son and dog have to hear about all the time, and also blogs at Erin at Large.