Enjoying amusement parks with little kids

I grew up going to Disneyland. My extended family lives in Southern California, so every few years we'd pile into the car and visit the park for the day. I was the youngest, the shortest, and the most frightened of rides, so my memories of those trips are mainly:

  • trudging long distances in the heat,
  • standing in lines for hours, and
  • having the crap scared out of me when we'd finally get onto rides.

There's a bit of family lore that includes my letting out horror-movie screams the entire length of "Inner Space."

Isn't it ironic that I enjoy Disneyland so much more as an adult?

I would NEVER say "Don't take your kids to an amusement park!" because, really? Who are we kidding? Amusement parks are magical places, full of wonder and excitement for kids and grownups alike. But there are plenty of tips we could share about how to make an amusement park vacation as fun as possible, while minimizing the inevitable pain of standing in line, managing strollers, fear of rides and terror at the sight of oversized, walking cartoon characters.

So! Let's swap some amusement park hacks! 


Think about planning your visit once all kids are ambulatory. Amusement parks really ARE more fun without strollers. Some may disagree, but I think the minimum age for kids should be about five; if your kids are tightly-wound, perhaps even six or seven. Younger kids will have fun, but you may not with all the stroller wrangling, diaper changing, and napping needs — not to mention the rides' height restrictions.

Two adult minimum. That way you can "baby swap" on rides (some parks let the patiently-waiting adult go to the front of the line when it's his or her turn). You can also have a backup when your kid is SURE she wants to go on a ride, stands in the line, but then gets scared when it's time to get on. Take it from one who knows: pushing frightened children onto rides rarely ends well.

Go for more than a day (preferably weekdays), and spend the night at a nearby hotel. Visit the park early in the morning, leave the park at lunchtime for a swim and a nap, and return in the evening.

Study the park map before you arrive. Give some thought to the rides and attractions you most want to experience, and do those first.

Keep portable, non-melty snacks, water bottles, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen in your bag. Better yet, have everyone in the family wear small backpacks and carry their own stuff.

Create a loose itinerary. Make an agreement ahead of time that morning is for rides and shows, afternoon (as you leave the park) is for shopping, and evening is for rides and shows.

Amazon: Motorola MH230R 23-Mile Range 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair)Make an "if you get lost" plan. Show the kids how to identify a park employee badge, and instruct them to ask those people for help (that way they can walk into any store). Take a camera phone picture of your kid so you have one on hand in case you get separated. Write your cell phone number on your kid's belly. Agree upon a meeting location in case you lose each other. Some folks like to use walkie talkies.

Give kids a spending allowance.

Make dinner reservations. No one likes to be stuck wondering where to eat with hour-long waits while everyone's hungry.

Leave the park BEFORE a kid melts down. The "just one more ride" phenomenon is so tempting: resist.

Surrender to the experience. You WILL get hot and tired. You WILL eat junk food that costs too much. You MAY get a little jaded about the commercialism. You will also have a wonderful time and your kids will remember the trip for years to come. This is a chance to throw off the mantle of grownup reserve! Immerse yourself! Hug the characters! Skip through the park! Eat a churro! Focus on the joy and make those memories happy ones.

Just to kick the conversation up a bit, allow me to include a little giveaway:

*heart beating with excitement*

The giveaway has ended.

Universal Orlando
Yes, indeed. I'm giving away two (2) four-packs of tickets to the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, Florida. Which means, that, if you win one of the prizes, you and three people you love (presumably your family) will get to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And that's only one of the attractions at Universal Studios Orlando. WAHHH!

I'm hosting this giveaway in conjunction with a press event sponsored by Universal, which I will be attending with my family next week. It's an unbelievable opportunity, and I am so thrilled to be able to share it with you. I'll post updates to Twitter and Facebook from the event; Twitter hashtag #UORfamily.

So! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post answering the following question:

What is your best tip for enjoying amusement parks with little kids?

I am giving away two packs of four tickets each, so there will be two giveaway winners, which I will randomly choose from all who enter. Good luck!

Update for mobile users: Those of you reading this on your smart phones are probably cursing the heavens as comments aren't visible on the mobile version of the site. Please email your comment to hacks at parenthacks dot com with the subject line UNIVERSAL GIVEAWAY and I will enter it myself.

One entry per person. Comments will close at 10am PST/1pm EST on Thursday, May 19, 2011. Entrants must be residents of the United States, and 18 years old or older. Tickets will be mailed on or after June 11, 2011, and will be valid until June 11, 2012. Before you enter, please read the official terms and conditions, as there are additional restrictions.

Disclosure: While I am not being paid to host this giveaway, Universal is covering travel and entertainment expenses for me and my family. The giveaway is a voluntary part of my participation in #UORfamily.

The giveaway has ended, but the comments left here are as useful as EVER.


  1. Stephanie says

    Best advise, TWO adults! One to stay off rides with scared or tired kids, one to hop on the rides or hit the restroom or grab a snack, etc. And don’t forget to pack snacks!

  2. says

    Have fun! No, seriously, that’s my tip. Let go of all the parental shoulds and shouldn’ts (actual safety issues notwithstanding, of course) and try to enjoy. The more you immerse yourself in the fun of it, the more your kids will enjoy, and the fewer head-butting battles you’ll have.

  3. hrm says

    Don’t feel pressured to see and do everything. If you can, buy an annual pass so that you can come and go as you please (Disney has a payment plan to spread out the cost–no finance charge!). I took my 22-month old twins to Disneyland for the first time on Monday–by myself! We stayed for 3-4 hours and it wasn’t without its difficulties, but overall it was a lot of fun and a day I’ll never forgot!

  4. Shimona says

    My best tip is one you already said, which is that you need at least 2 adults to make it an enjoyable experience–even if you don’t have any babies. Kids have such different interests, and so little patience at an amusement park. The other one I would say is to make sure, if it is a young child’s first amusement park experience, don’t go on a ride in the dark! That freaks out many children their first time out, and we made that mistake with our at-the-time-3-year-old daughter. We took her on the ride inside the Epcot dome, and even though it’s not scary, she was freaked out by not knowing what was coming up next, being in the dark, etc. So even though you have a kid who’s not afraid of the dark (and our 3-year-old has never been afraid of the dark), that doesn’t mean they won’t freak out at not knowing what is coming up next, unless they have gotten used to the whole “ride experience” in the light first! :)

  5. Shimona says

    Oops, I meant don’t take your child on a ride in the dark for their *first* ride. Let them get used to outdoor rides, where they can see what happens, first, and then try an indoor one…

  6. says

    If you can take extra adults (family friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents) to help with the kids, even better. Know that everyone will be running on adrenaline and excitement so just be patient with each other.

  7. Martha S. says

    Best tip: sunglasses for everyone! We haven’t taken our kids yet to an amusement park. Next year, maybe!

  8. says

    I live in the Orlando area and have taken my now one year old since he was born to all three major parks. My best hack, an ergo carrier (or knock-off). Baby is happy close to Mommy, sleeps there during naps, and can be held tightly while on rides with no height restrictions. We did a full day at Disney twice now and it went great! The other hack if you are going with young children is to utilize the baby center at DW and Seaworld, sadly Universal does not offer this option.

  9. Christine says

    Travel with the grandparents! This way there is always someone who is willing to sit with the kid(s) when the older children/adults want to experience some of the older oriented parts of the park as well. Also allows for an in park nap if you are unable to leave and come back. Have plenty of water, snacks and a few things (toys, candy, favorite lovey) to distract that if a potential meltdown coming. Favorite cup also does wonders when you are trying to keep a younger child hydrated in the heat.

  10. Tracy says

    Tip you already said…Baby Swap Hands Down!!! Makes the day so much more enjoyable!

  11. Karin says

    I’ll let you know after we return from Orlando in June. :) But, I plan on going for just a few hours a day.. no more than about 3-4. Worn out kids and adults alike are bound to be grouchy.

  12. jenn says

    I think just having low expectations as to what rides you will do is key. Just pick a few that are must dos and all the rest is bonus!

  13. says

    If you have young (i.e. short) kids, finding a good spot AHEAD of time for a parade can be useful. This likely means finding out where the parade starts or ends, then setting up shop 20 or 30 minutes ahead of time, BEFORE the ropes go up. For example, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is a tucked-away bench directly opposite the entrance for Kilimanjaro Safari and adjacent to the large doors behind which the parade both begins and ends. This is when it helps to bring along grandparents who may not be too keen on rides, but who don’t mind sitting somewhere for a few minutes (or treating the grandkids to a few trinkets).

  14. says

    These are fantastic tips. We haven’t yet attempted the amusement park trip, but perhaps we’ll win this one, or get to go sometime soon, all the same :-)

  15. Laurie says

    I haven’t taken my son yet because I’m waiting until he’s five! But my advice would be get advice from friend’s who’ve done this before.

  16. Audrey says

    Best tip I have is well fitting, even if expensive, shoes for the kids. Yes. Seriously. My family had a standing rule that any trips to vacation destinations like Disney World included a trip to a specialty running store to have kids fitted for good shoes. I am the Queen of penny penching, although my mom Is the Queen Mother, but it really does make a difference for the kids to have really good tennis shoes and it’s totally worth the extra $ to be able to enjoy the inevitable treks at the parks. No blisters, no “my feet hurt”, no whining because of said feet hurting… It probably cut down on family stress by 150% on a week long trip. Were going to DW this fall with my inlaws and I already have a trip to the running store for my 2.5 yr old planned. I hope it works as well on her as it did when we were kids!!

  17. Lawanna says

    My tip….eat a good breakfast. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you should eat donuts and soda for breakfast. With good nutrition in the belly kids (and parents) are able to last longer at the park.

  18. Rebecca says

    My best advice would be to go with grandparents and/or another family, so that the adults can have a break from never-ending kiddie rides. Also, although I haven’t done it yet, I’ve heart that it is wise to plan a day off the theme park during a 3-4 day Disney or Universal-like excursion to enjoy the hotel pool and amenities, and not be going from sun-up to sundown for 3-4 days straight! When you pay that much to get into a park, you don’t want to cut the day short, but 3 days straight for a small child (or the parents) can be a bit much.

  19. lisa says

    water and long lasting lollipops. disney has the best ones! and dont expect too much!

  20. says

    My best tip is 2 adults at a minimum & enforce a nap break. Even if you’re not feeling tired, a nap is essential for the kids to head back to the park & have a good time.

    Also, if you’re going to a park that makes sense, I seed in relevant toys (stuffed animals, figures, etc.) to prep them & also to cut down on buying too many unneeded toys in the park. Save the money for keepsakes they will care for longer than a simple toy…

  21. Meadow says

    Extra socks! After a day on your feet, it is bliss to switch socks. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you.

  22. Jason says

    My advice is to take a weekday off (preferably on a school day) and avoid weekends. It can be extremely frustrating for both parents and kids to spend ninety percent of your time at the park in line.

  23. Ashli says

    My tip would be to utilize the FastPass type of options many amusement parks (like Disney) offer. This allows you to “make reservations” for the busier rides – less time in line = more fun for everyone! Grab a FastPass from the kiosk, enjoy a nearby ride, and come back to a shorter line when it’s your scheduled time.
    Check out park maps in advance, as suggested, to plan which rides you will get a FastPass and which ones you will visit in the meantime.

  24. says

    WOW! Great giveaway! I would agree with not going when the kids are too young. Also, remember you know your kids best and what they can handle – don’t do the dark rides or haunted house if yours can’t handle it!

  25. Ghanimatrix says

    Dress for success! Comfortable, layered clothes for the whole family, with pockets that zip closed.

  26. Christy says

    My best tip for non-ambulatory kids is to ditch the stroller and use a baby carrier – we had an Ergo at Disneyworld while my husband ran in the marathon, and it was so much easier getting around than with a stroller.

    I’d also scope out height requirements before going and make sure you have an adult for each height group.

  27. Twinmamateb says

    I have no advice, which is why I read this post; I’ve never taken the kids!(they are only 2.5)!

    Will bookmark this for the future!

  28. Lisa says

    #1 hack after two trips to Disney this year: WATER BOTTLES FOR EVERYONE. Parks get HOT and even water is expensive. Take water bottles and refill often (fountains are near all restrooms).

    The key for kids(at least at Disney) is 40″ tall. You can’t ride much if you aren’t tall enough. They’ve got to be young enough to still believe they are meeting real princesses, but big enough to ride Splash Mountain.

  29. Bev says

    Just one tip! That’s tough.

    Mine would be to get there early as the crowds are so much lighter first thing. When it starts to get busy, do the shows. Take a long lunch, and lots of breaks, and use FastPass. No ride is worth a 2 hour queue, but you should be able to ride anything you want without queuing excessively, if you get up early.

    I’m not a resident of the USA, so I guess I can’t win :(

  30. Elizabeth says

    We haven’t braved an amusement park yet, but I think the best advice would be to remember that this is fun. It can be super stressful, I would imagine, but it’s not worth pushing if no one is able to enjoy it.

  31. says

    Bring the grandparents if possible. Extra hands and eyes are always great!

    And. Don’t expect to do an entire themepark in one day with kids. They just don’t move that fast, and you need down time to eat and potty and nap and everything else. Set your expectations a little lower, and you can have a much more relaxed time :)

  32. Katie says

    Take a stroller, even if your kids don’t use one at home. When we went to Disney, we ended up with the baby in an Ergo carrier and the 6 year old in the stroller. Even with his long gangly legs hanging out of the stroller, he didn’t care…he was tired!

    Take lots of baby wipes. They wipe off sticky faces and hands as well as diaper messes.

    Eat a big breakfast and don’t expect to eat a great meal at the park.

    Keep a beach towel in the stroller. It makes a good impromtu bed, blanket, sarong, pillow…remember “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…”

    Take pictures when you first get there, then put the camera away and enjoy being with your kids. They’ll get all grubby and grumpy later and not want to pose for pics.

    Thanks Asha, what a great giveaway! This homeschooling family could use a break! :)

  33. betsy says

    Have the kids study the map ahead of time and agree on one or two things they ‘have’ to do. These are all great hacks…

  34. karen b says

    Learned the hard way: don’t feel like you have to tackle EVERYTHING or you’ll be running around all day and everyone will end up cranky by the end of the trip . . . have one or two MUST DO things in mind and just go with the flow for the rest.

  35. says

    Wow, what a completely fabulous giveaway! My best advice: lower your expectations. Things might not go smoothly, someone will cry at least once during the time you are there, but just let it all go and savor it as part of the experience.

  36. Corrie says

    While we’ve only done small parks with our kids, my best advice is to let the kids be in charge. If they want to ride the same thing 3 times in a row, let them. The day is supposed to be fun, not full of parental bossiness! Just relax and have a good time.

  37. famousamy says

    Best tip for me is just to remember to relax. I won’t be able to see everything I’d like to, so I just remember that I’ll likely have the chance to be back again some day. For me, relaxation and going with the flow make for a much better vacation.

  38. Jill says

    Get a Fast Pass if it’s offered, definitely! And if you’re staying for more than a couple of days, purchase a meal plan.

  39. Anissa says

    Camelpacks (water hydration systems) are great as they are worn like a small backpack (and don’t stick out as much), hold a lot of water, and also have enough storage for a few diapers, or sun screen, or small snacks! We always use ours for the State Fair and trips to the amusement park or hikes.

  40. Dana T says

    My favorite hack is to go to amusement parks on days that are slightly rainy but without thunderstorms. You have to plan ahead on getting wet, but you need to do that anyway given the number of water rides at parks. With a light rain to keep many folks indoors, you can often ride even the popular rides with little wait. On average, we’d usually ride at least twice as many rides on a rainy day than on a beautiful sunny day.

  41. Dana says

    I very much agree with the tip to wait until kids are 5. I’ve never understood taking 2 and 3 year olds to major amusement parks. Tips: Limit what you carry. Bring one backpack instead of a purse. Arrive 20 minutes or before it opens. That first hour before it fills up can be the most enjoyable. Alternatively, with older kids, take advantage of evening hours. So many people leave at dinner time.

  42. says

    We always dress our three boys in the same brightly colored shirt. When one wanders away a little bit it’s easy to quickly scan the crowd and spot the kid in the orange, yellow, etc shirt.

  43. Heather says

    My tip is to eat a good, hot, healthy breakfast before heading to the park, and then eat a picnic-style lunch while you are there… granola bars, fruit, nuts, etc. that have been packed into everyone’s backpack.

  44. Trish says

    Be flexible. If the child is tired, take a break. If the kid can’t handle the line, go somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to change up your plans if it will prevent a meltdown. I don’t get to do all the things I would without the kid, but it’s worth it to see how happy she is.

  45. Sarah S says

    With younger kids, some of the smaller parks can be really fun. My young son had a good time at Epcot, and we enjoyed eating our way around the park. :)

  46. Marissa Haynie says

    Low expectations for the park itself, and things that you can do away from the crowds (pool, hang out and watch a movie, etc) for when people (adults and kids!) need a break.

  47. Alicia M says

    Do NOT go during the summer! It gets HOT here in Florida and the parks are CROWDED! Your best bet is to go Oct-March. The weather is nice, you can breeze through the lines and it’s SO much more enjoyable. Oh yeah and it’s also usually a lot cheaper!

  48. Liz Hatfield says

    I haven’t done it yet! But, I’m planning to make a loose itinerary, packing essentials, and heading out early to take a break.

  49. Nikki says

    Buy your tickets online ahead of time! This would have saved us over an hour of waiting to get into the park last time we went. After an hour and a half in the car to get to the park, who wants to stand in line for an hour? Make it so that you can avoid lines as much as possible and go have the fun that you’re paying for! :)

  50. Matt O. says

    Hats for everyone, plenty of sunscreen, and a break for a picnic lunch in the shade during the hottest hours of the day.

  51. Maggie says

    Fanny packs! Sure, they are fashion suicide, but I think those things are made for amusement parks. :)

  52. Neil says

    Food, snacks, drinks, and more food. A full stomach (though it may be incompatible with some rides) eliminates tons of whining.

    Also love the one I read here just yesterday (linked to in the post): Give the kids an allowance. Let them decide what treats and toys they want to buy. No arguing. Why didn’t I think of that?

  53. Barbara says

    If you can, go when it is least crowded! We took our 15 month old to Disney World during one of the least crowded weeks of the year (mid-November) and had a wonderful time. Practically no lines for anything, we could come and go from the parks as we needed to for naps/meals, and the weather was fine!

  54. Brenda B says

    My tip – keep everyone hydrated and fed. Hot, tired, and hungry = cranky!!!Great giveaway, thanks!

  55. jennifer burrows says

    we have been waiting until ours turned 3 before we took he to disneyland. my mom take all the kids when they turn three. going with grandma is my best tip!

  56. MRogers says

    I have not taken my four year old to an amusement park yet, however we are planning a trip in the fall. I am concerned about him waiting patiently in line because patience is not something he understands now! That is why we plan on going when hopefully the lines are not so long. I plan on keeping him distracted by playing games like I Spy, or an animal guessing game, and having some very small toy or activity that will fit in our bag. I don’t have an Iphone, but if I did, I would download a few kid friendly apps to help keep his interest while waiting.

  57. MamaC says

    My tip is go online to look at park restaurant menus before you go (lots of Disney fan sites out there have full updated menus and reviews; mouseears.net is a fav). There are delicious non-junkfood Quick-service meal options at all (Disney) parks if you know where to look. Several restaurants serve large portions that can be shared amongst kids (ex. one meal that include 1/2 BBQ chicken, 1/2 rack of ribs and a generous side dish).

    Also, hubs and I took our 6 mo old daughter to WDW and had a great time! She flew on my lap for free, got into the parks for free, loved all the sounds and colors, and napped easily in the crowds when she needed. Hubs and I got to enjoy ourselves and it wasn’t a big deal to tote around a little extra stuff (in fact, the stroller is a great way to carry our extra sweatshirts/rain gear without having to lug them around in overstuffed backpacks).

  58. Tara says

    My best advice is not to go when the kids are too young. My daughter is almost 3 and I can’t imagine taking her to an amusement park yet. She gets overwhelmed by crowds and still takes a 2 hour nap. That said, I am eagerly awaiting the day that we can take her — maybe 3 years from now. :)

  59. says

    We’ve taken a 2-1/2 year old to WDW, and then last year went with a 1 year old and a 4 year old. What we learned is:

    1. Get a stroller. If the kid walks, great – throw your bag(s) in it.
    2. Accept that you’re not going to see everything. Plan ahead. Figure out 2-3 things that are important to you and plan around them.
    3. If you can, plan to go back to the hotel for a nap.
    4. Let the kids be kids. If you want them to see the parade but they’re having fun playing in the fountains, skip the parade. It’ll still be there the next day.
    5. Try to stick to as normal a meal schedule as you can. Of course, since everyone else will be doing that too, plan ahead. With Disney, you can make dining reservations 180 days out. Do it.
    6. Talk with your kids about the ride. Don’t tell them it’s not scary, ask them why they think it will be scary.

  60. Kevin says

    My tip: Bring lots of snacks and water, saves money and your kids will always want something from a vendor stand.

  61. Cara says

    Oh man what an awesome giveaway! My tip (from my own memories, not current experience) is 1. hats and 2. fluids. Everyone gets super grouchy when they’re dehydrated.

  62. RebeccaF. says

    Best tip: extra snacks and re-fillable water bottles but plan on (and budget for) one meal in the park.
    Have fun!

  63. divrchk says

    My advice is to enjoy yourselves and don’t stress about money. I totally agree with you on don’t go until your kids are walking and older. It makes a world of difference and the parks are still magical to them.

  64. Little Sugar Mama says

    Go to an amusement park that allows outside food to be brought in! Kennywood, in Pittsburgh, has a large picnic area where you can safely leave coolers all day (or, you can leave them in the car and go back to them to get lunch). I’m not saying we NEVER buy food at the park, but it’s a lot nicer to make our own sandwiches than wait in a long hot line for a hot dog.

  65. says

    Don’t worry about “getting your money’s worth” if going with very young kids It’s more important to move at their pace, take breaks, and leave while everyone is still happy than to get in an extra hour or two that make EVERYONE want to wail.

    Without the perceived pressure of getting value or taking every opportunity, I relax more.

    Also- read online tips about going to that park with kids before your trip. http://www.HolidayWorld.com (awesome park in the Midwest- y’all come visit!) offers park-specific tips (like starting at the back kids’ area or the waterpark in the morning and traveling TOWARD the front gate as the day progresses.

  66. Tracie S says

    Take breaks and wear all the same color shirts. Growing up, when we went to a park, we wore the same shirts. This way we could easily pick each other out.

  67. says

    My best advice would be to take a little baggie with you of things you might need – pain reliever, a couple of band-aids, travel-size sunscreen, wet wipes (no matter the ages of your kids), antacid, etc.

  68. AnitaRei says

    Best advice I have ever gotten is to purchase the refillable cup- it not only makes a great sovenir, it also allows you to get refills at over half the cost & almost ALL amusement parks give out FREE water, you just have to ask! Even if it’s just a plain cup with no lid, when you have kids who are overheating this is perfect way to cool off & you can reuse them to disperse the free refills after… No need for everyone to share the same cup.

  69. says

    My best advice for the theme parks is timing.

    Never go on the weekends or holidays. Summer is for the truly masochistic. Best times tend to be in the middle of the week and early December. Early January is a good time as well.

  70. Jenni says

    Bring a stroller/wagon and park it in one spot (in places like Disneyland, park it in each “section” as you explore that ares). Fill it with your snacks, goodies, and change of clothes. You only need to use it at the end of the day when legs just can’t make it to the car. Bring a small backpack to stuff snacks into, but this way you can revisit and refill occasionally.

    If you do it right (and it takes some practice) it works very well! No renting a locker, if a kids gets really tired in the “shopping time” it’s easy to rest and rejuvinate.

    Also, make shopping time around lunch, or just after. The stores are MUCH less crowded than at the end of the day and it’s just enough time to really decide what you want to purchase.

  71. Mitzy says

    One tip I’ve read about but never tried myself is for rides that are popular but have very limited capacity (like Dumbo at Disney). If you know about how many people the ride can hold at once, send adult #1 with the child into the line. Adult #2 waits until at least one full ride’s worth of other people join the line, then gets in the line alone. If the kid wants to ride again after the first time, adult #1 passes him or her to adult #2. That way, your kids can ride again if they want to without having to wait the full length of the line every time, and you can always duck out of the line if they decide once is enough.

  72. John Aughey says

    We stayed at Disney for a conference when my daughter was just 1. We didn’t go anywhere but the hotel resort pool, but we observed many tired strung out families at dinner. Dinner at the hotel was one of those multi-cuisine places ranging from hamburgers to Italian to Chinese. Everyone could get just what they wanted without waiting. Big win!

  73. says

    WHOA!! Coolest giveaway ever!! I’d agree FastPass is manna from heaven. And lowering your standards – you won’t get to see everyhting, so just stay intent on enjoying what time you DO have where you are. And TONS of water and snacks!!

  74. Erin O'Neill says

    My best advice is to stay cool! Drink plenty of water and take a break from the sun often. Overheated kids are NO fun.

  75. Michelle F. says

    Have the vacation begin prior to the trip. Have fun with your child researching the park a bit! Get online and talk about the rides and areas — that way it’s not overwhelming and there is a loose plan in place. My son is 6 and has Asperger’s disorder, so too much “random” stimulation is difficult — I think that can apply to any child, however! Also, in our case, my son would love to “design” his own “park” at home on mural paper with crayons and other arsty things before we go, just to get the momentum going. We can pair this with actual learning also: study how a rollercoater is built or whatever facet might interest your child. It will give you something to talk about while waiting in line. Since kids tire out easily on vacation (and since time goes fast), these ideass extend the vacation without the “grumpy/whinies” or feeling like you missed something if you have to cut a day short. I am a recent breast cancer patient so my energy runs low also, as does the pocketbook. We get creative! On the plane ride home, let kids begin a scrapbook of drawings from their trip — add photos, parent notes, etc., when at home.

  76. Jen says

    If you go to any of the Disney parks, take advantage and plan out your FastPasses. Not having to wait in at least some lengthy lines will greatly improve your day. Choose to get passes for the rides with the longest waits and while you’re waiting for those passes to become available, go ahead and go on the less popular rides. You can only have one FastPass at a time, so once you’ve used one pass, immediately send a family member to the next ride you want one for, while the rest of you snag a place in another ride line.

  77. Ann M says

    A minimum of two adults for sure! But don’t just take anyone with you, make sure that whoever wins the “golden ticket” to come along isn’t someone who will make the trip more work/frustrating/upsetting than it should be. It is about having fun :) And I think you’ve pretty much covered most everything else! Thanks for the giveaway. Please pick me LOL

  78. says

    We just did Disneyland with our 3.5 year old and then three month old. My tip is go while the sibling is tiny. Seriously, just go! Plane ride was a breeze, I could wear her on tons of rides or we could easily baby swap. She was young enough to sleep everywhere and garnered a ton of positive attention from the characters that big sister just ate up.

    So if you’ve got a recent addition on the way DON’T go super pregnant (what a drag for mom) and no need to wait until the little on is a more appropriate 2-3 years old (what a long wait for the older sibling). Go in the 2-4 months window. So much easier than it sounds, I promise :)

  79. says

    Dress your kid in something brightly and unusually colored, like a bright orange shirt. Sure, there will be a hundred other kids in a similarly colored shirt, but there probably won’t be a thousand kids in the same color. It’ll help when you’re doing the quick “oh-no-where’s-my-kid” scan of the crowd. Dull colors like navy blue, white or brown too easily fade into the background of khaki pants, blue jeans and bare legs.

    I second the Ergo/Baby Carrier tip, too. Absolutely priceless if you have a little one.

  80. ivar forkbeard says

    i think an important factor when visiting the “hardcore” parks like disneyland is to not get too wrapped up in a timeline or rigid plan. if you have young kids, every part of these parks are made to thrill and mesmerize them…so you don’t make it onto a small world or the line for the matterhorn is just too dang long…relax! enjoy what parts of the park you make it to instead of stressing out about the parts that aren’t in the cards for this round! remember: kids are extremely perceptive and if you are having a bad time because things aren’t working out exactly like you wanted, they will notice on some level and you may just break the magic spell these parks are going out of their way to weave. ;)

  81. Claire Grimble says

    For Disney – spend a few dollars to get access to Tour Guide Mike – so much great information – he made our trip pretty painless. Also, check out your local amusement park – in New England we have some classics like Storyland that are just brilliant for the younger crowd.

  82. Johnna says

    Take your time! Rushing from one attraction to another all day long with no rest breaks will only result in grouchy kids and grouchy parents. It’s far better to hit a few less rides and have an enjoyable day than to hit ALL the rides and have to fight off the desire to scream and/or cry at the end of the day.

  83. says

    I recommend burning a sick day with your spouse and roller-coastering to your hearts content without the kids once a year. Makes you much more patient when you are standing and watching the little bees circle the hive in the kiddie area. And we only take the kids to parks that cater to them– for us that means Dutch Wonderland and not Hersheypark.

    I have my fingers soo crossed for a win– I will be in Orlando on my Potter-loving son’s 9th birthday and would love an excuse to take him along…

  84. Christi says

    If possible, stay in a resort attached to the park. Plan on taking a break midday. Go back to your hotel, take a nap, take a dip in the pool, etc. This will not only give YOU a break, but it will help to boost your kids energy. It may only be a 2 hour break…but enough to make the rest of the day enjoyable for the entire family!

  85. says

    For those of us with a special needs kid (plus a couple siblings too), it’s all about pre-production and prioritizing. Involve the kids in the research phase of the trip, and make a plan together for what you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY must see and do (for us, it would be The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)! Other than that? Comfortable shoes, small first-aid kit, and snacks!!!!

  86. Julie says

    Those misting squirt bottles with the little battery-operated fans are great for cooling down on hot, humid days.

  87. says

    I haven’t been with the kids yet – we have two 4 year olds and one 3 year old. We were planning to go in the fall and our plan was to try to stay on property or as close to on property as possible to be able to rest during the day.

  88. Megan says

    Take the grandparents! Grandparents never get a chance to go to theme parks, so it is usually fun for them to occasionally go. Often you can divide up into little kid riders and big kid riders, someone can be waiting in line for food while kids are riding. We have grandparents who live far away, so sometimes instead of visiting them or them visiting us, we will make plans to meet at an area with a fun theme park, then everyone is on vacation!

  89. says

    Make some memories for everyone. That means no fast-paced rush-through-gotta-visit MANIA. Let everyone pick one thing that they want to do (so everyone is happy) and then relax and enjoy the day.

  90. says

    We have a 5 year old and a 3 year old and haven’t gotten to take them yet but my advice would be the same when planning ANY outting with kids… Have a plan and take nap break (for the grown ups too!)

  91. Robb says

    If parents make the choice to visit with younger kids (under 5), it’s really important to follow the advice to leave the park in the middle of the day for lunch, nap, and a break from the constant stimulus of the park environment. Little tykes do better with a break, which means everyone else (including all other park visitors) have a better time.

    Enjoy your visit to FL!

  92. says

    Love the giveaway! My biggest tip is this: Bring your own food. Not only will you save a ton of money but your kids won’t crash after eating all of the not-so-healthy-food served at amusement parks. You’ll save time by not waiting in food lines, too.

  93. cs white says

    If you’re heading to a place with water rides, don’t forget to have some plastic bags in your backpack so you can seal up anything you don’t want to get wet!

  94. Rachel says

    When we took our daughter to Disney World at 5yo, the great tip we received was to bring a solid, compact stroller (like the Combi Flare). Having the stroller let us walk faster than the 5yo’s pace, gave her a break between rides, and was a blessing outside of the park moving between buses and the hotel.

    We started out safe and slow on the indoor rides by starting with Its a Small World. She was a little nervous at first, not knowing what to expect, but she came out beaming and demanding we ride it again. It set a good foundation for trying other indoor rides.

    We’re excited to start planning next year’s trip when our son turns 5!

  95. says

    Take the Grandparents, so there’s always someone to stay behind with or sit out with any of the kids that don’t want to ride/do. And use the fast pass if going at a busy time

  96. Deb says

    Try a local smaller park first, before you go spending a huge amount of money at Disney World. This way, you’ll get an idea if your kid likes spinny rides or roller coasters and how they handle dark rides or haunted houses.

  97. Desiree Koons says

    If getting a hotel room, consider a suite with the bedroom(s) separated from a common room. This will allow you and your spouse to stay up later to read, watch TV, talk after the kids pass out from exhaustion.

  98. Bekki says

    I would agree wholeheartedly with the not taking kids under 5. It’s so sad to see everyone having a miserable experience because of a tired fussing baby or toddler. If you have to take the really young ones I would say go for only a few hours then take a long nap break. (Also good to nap in the afternoon so you miss the hot sun!)

  99. says

    My tip actually differs from your suggestions in the article. We’ve taken our kids to disneyland before they were ambulatory, and it worked out really well. Yes, it’s a different experience than when you go with older kids, but it’s still fun and exciting! You just have to have your expectations set appropriately :)

  100. Anna S. says

    Definitely agree on having an itinerary. You are guaranteed to have a lot more fun with a plan, than you are wandering around staring at a park map, trying to decide what to do next.

  101. Erika says

    My best advice to bring a few washcloths. We often get them wet and use them to cool off a little bit. Also, I always have extra ziplock bags to hold snacks, various special things my children find, wet clothes/bathing suits etc.

  102. Marlene says

    I have multiple tips after just completing our first trip to Disneyland for my sons 5th birthday.

    First, take advantage of the fact that young children tend to get up at the break of dawn. This means you can be at the park early before a lot of the crowds. Take the aforementioned “nap break” to decompress and get dinner out of the park (if you are so inclined) then go back for the evening festivities.

    Secondly, invoke the awesome power of the “Souvenir Fairy”! Since we were going to Disneyland, I watched sales at the Disney Store at the mall. I stocked up on a few days worth of Disney toys that were on clearance. Prior to leaving the hotel room, one parent would take the kids to the elevator while one hung back and to sneak the souvenirs onto their beds. If the kids ask for an overpriced toy at the park, we would remind them of the souvenir fairy that came to kids who are at theme parks. This definitely helped keep our souvenir expenses down and let our kids focus on having fun instead of shopping for new toys.
    Side hack: we encouraged the kids instead to decide on a favorite souvenir and at the end of the week, each kid got to buy that souvenir.

  103. Sarah says

    Whenever we go anywhere with the little one and there will be excitement and crowds we involve the little one in preparing for the day – packing water, sunscreen, maps, itineraries, etc. – and play the what-if game on the way there: What if something looks like fun on the other side of the street?; What if we make a rule or decision you don’t agree with?; What if we can’t hear you call our names?; What if one of us needs a break?; What if you look up and don’t see us?; etc.. She’s eight now, and we’ve been doing this with her since she was four. It centers her and makes her feel empowered to make better choices.

  104. Maureen says

    Research and plan your trip. There are so many websites now devoted to people sharing their trip experiences (ex. tripadvisor.com, expedia, disboards.com for Disney trip), that you can really learn a lot from other parents and their experiences, problems, etc. BEFORE even leaving the house. We were always very thankful to having an good umbrella stroller with a pouch for snacks, waters, etc. Everyone having a good breakfast to start the day and a sense of humor also very important. Also, good idea to lower everyone’s expectations as to what will be accomplished in one day. If it’s a trip of more than a few days, don’t try to get everything done in one day — spread it out. And ultimately, yes, surrender to the outing .. easier said than done, but it helps to leave your “control freak” traits at home.

  105. Linda says

    What is your best tip for enjoying amusement parks with little kids?

    Best advice: Do NOT bring a friend of your childs. It doesn’t seem to ever work out. Either they hate rides or don’t like the same as your child or are too short, etc. It seems like a good idea at first, but it never seems to work out…

  106. Josh Gonzalez says

    My best advice is to make sure the adults always outnumber the children (really, this only applies if the children are young). If there are more adults than children, it’s easier to spread the responsibilities around. Plus, if you’re organized, you can be assured that there can be at least one adult at all times that doesn’t necessarily have to worry about the kids. A break from responsibility can be very welcome during a day at an amusement park.

  107. Holly says

    Haven’t been yet with my toddler, but from going as an adult, my best advice would be to start with low expectations-it can only go up from there. Don’t try to do everything, you’ll spend too much time trying to get here and there and not really enjoy the experience.

  108. maria f says

    What is your best tip for enjoying amusement parks with little kids?

    With 2 different aged kiddo’s switch off with the one for you one for them game.
    and for those southern climate challenged. SUNSCREEN. apply half hour before hand and every 3-4 hours after. No one wants to spend days with a sunburned anyone.

  109. Nicole K says

    If you have to bring very young children, bring your cheapest stroller so you’re not paranoid about leaving it outside a ride.

    Bring a Grandparent who is less concerned about going on the big rides so parents can still ride a coaster while the little ones rest.

    Plan a nap break. Even if you just all lay down on a blanket under a shady tree for a half hour it will help avoid the afternoon crankies.

  110. danielle says

    My best tip is to bring grandma and grandpa with you! The grandparents get to see the trip through the eyes of the next generation – and spoil the kids a bit – while also giving mom & dad a chance to do some grown up rides! For some reason, grandma and grandpa don’t seem to mind riding the kid rides OVER and OVER and OVER!! :)

  111. Kim says

    Sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen! I remember my grandparents took me to a theme park when I was 5 or 6, straight from the airport, and I think they had forgotten the sunscreen. My pale white self got a second-degree sunburn that day. OUCH!

  112. says

    Drink lots of water. Meltdowns will happen sooner for children without it, and believe it or not Moms and Dads can meltdown too, especially when dehydrated.

  113. Laura says

    buy less expensive amusement style toys prior to going (works on young kids) to save money at the park. Of course you do need to buy at least one souvenir there though ;(

  114. Marshelle says

    I love your idea of heading back to the hotel for lunch. But if you’re doing a day trip and don’t have a hotel, pack a cooler full of lunch and leave it in the car. Get your hand stamped for re-entry and enjoy a little tailgating in the parking lot. That way you spend money on snacks and treats, and save on your actual meal.

  115. says

    SUNSCREEN! I have a very fair complexion. I have horrible memories of getting sunburned on family vacations… which makes for a horrible experience if you’re riding rides and running to and fro. No point in being miserable if it can be avoided. Pack the sunscreen.

  116. says

    if it’s possible to stay multiple days … go as early as you can to the parks and spend the afternoon relaxing by the hotel’s pool. Much more fun for everyone!

  117. Elisa says

    Follow one of the suggested itineraries in the back of the book “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland” (the guide tells you which rides will scare whom, where you can get food, when to ride what so that you avoid lines… all this inside info REEEALLY helps). My laid-back husband at first thought this was weird to follow a set schedule, but then he was totally converted when we tried it… it left the decision-making/planning/bad-cop work to “Mr. Schedule” and let us (mom and dad) just happily follow along with our 5 y.o. son who thought it was super fun to know what the plan was and be able to read it along with us. He didn’t argue with “Mr. Schedule”. I think half of the stress of being at a park is not knowing what the plan is or wasting time arguing over it. Following one set plan removes that stress for everyone.

  118. Yvonne W says

    Two adults is a must and an annual pass is ideal if one can afford it. That way not so much pressure to cram everything in one day and “get your money’s worth”…whihc can seriously stress you out! =)

    All great tips BTW!

  119. shawna.staples@nike.com says

    My advice is to have the kids wear the same color (preferably bright and unusual) shirt. I discovered this in Disneyland when my 6 year old daughter had on a bright yellow shirt. She was very easy to spot in the crowd whereas my 4 year old in his blue shirt just blended in.

  120. Adrienne says

    Visit smaller, more low-key amusement parks when the kids are little. They’re more likely to be manageable and also less expensive!

  121. Julie says

    I’d say that with very small kids in tow, I’d go a lot further than just “two adults.” I think it’s a two adult minimum, plus another adult per small child. You REALLY don’t want to be outnumbered here.

  122. Kendra says

    It may seem like a small thing, but the thing that has contributed most to our enjoying everything we do: get there as early as humanly possible. Our kids are early risers, which makes a difference, but we are always the ones waiting for the zoo, the museum, the amusement park to open. The crowds tend to get there around lunch time, so it’s less overwhelming. It’s less hot and noisy, and the kids are less overstimulated. We get to enjoy the place and by the time the kids (often older, as mine are 7 and under) are arriving in full force, we’re ready to leave. I’m willing to go to all kinds of places (my fear of crowds notwithstanding) because we all know we’re going to be in and out of there before the place gets to be really awful, and my kids are going to be wiped out!

  123. says

    Since I haven’t actually been to an amusement park with my boys yet I have no tried and true hacks but I love the cell phone number in sharpie on the tummy in case they get lost and I think the two adult rule is another great one. I think the boys would love the walkie talkies and the allowance for the trip is another one I would love to try.

  124. Stefanie says

    Get there as early as you possibly can. You’ll have an hour or so before the crowds really get thick. Also, go in the opposite direction of the people traffic.

  125. says

    Try to go to the park more than one day, to be sure you have enough time to do everything. Once you’re there, take frequent breaks to eat/rest/cool off as needed. I remember going to Disneyland in the 80’s when I was 6 and my brother was 4, and our parents pushed us to keep going through exhaustion, hunger, and feeling overheated (we weren’t used to California heat); our visits to the park were cut short each day due to unrecoverable meltdowns that could have been prevented with a little patience.

    What an exciting giveaway!

  126. Valerie says

    I definitely think waiting until the kids are older is necessary. A lot of parks now have great programs for avoiding lines, too, which are worth taking advantage of.

  127. SusanOR says

    We just got back last week from Disneyland with our 4.5 year old. We were able to successfully keep her unaware of the Disneyland component of our trip until 15 minutes before we walked through the gates. This helped keep her expectations low, so we were not subject to whining about what she wanted to do or see. Everything was, in her eyes, a bonus!
    Because we were only spending one day in the park, we made decisions about what was important to our family. No 90-120 minute waits for character photo-ops, at all.
    We booked a hotel across the street from the park, which allowed us to check in early (locked luggage room) and park for free. We walked to the park, rented a stroller (we’d forgotten ours at home!) which helped with the tired feet problem, as some parts of Disney are quite far from each other.
    Think: Flexibility – instead of her usual after-lunch nap, we headed back to hotel for pre-dinner nap that gave us all the stamina to keep at it until 10 pm.
    Strategic breaks: ice-cream, a show (Fiddlers!) that didn’t require standing in line. Waiting until 9 pm to wait for Dumbo.
    Use smart phone apps – especially those that tell you where the nearest bathroom, restaurant are (and provide menus!) – much less stressful.

  128. Lara in VA says

    I know this won’t work for a lot of people, given the cost involved, but staying at a Disney resort allowed earlier access to the parks, and they immediately whisk you right to a coveted attraction (for Epcot, we went straight in to Soaring). Plus getting there earlier is always good in any case!

  129. sarah r. says

    pay attention to your kids – don’t just herd them from one place to the next. watch what they enjoy, and be willing to deviate from your plans if they really love splashing in a wet play area or going down a slide or playing bubbles with an employee. and especially pay attention to their hunger & exhaustion levels – hungry, tired kids are cranky kids, and when the kids are cranky, no one has any fun!

  130. Ree says

    If at all possible, bring a friend. We just did our local park with two three year old buddies, and they entertained each other while the babies nursed and had melt downs.

  131. says

    We’ve done Disney twice with our kids, none of whom are 6 yet.

    If you’re taking little kids, take a big ol’ horkin’ stroller. Let them take turns riding in it when they’re tired. Use it to hold drinks and haul your stuff. You don’t want a little umbrella stroller, you want the Land Yacht stroller. Trust me.

  132. Lyssette says

    Stay at a hotel close by. That way you can go back to the hotel in the middle of the day for a nap/recharge. It beats those mid-afternoon meltdowns.

  133. says

    We went to Disney for Spring Break this year. My parents gave my son a book about Disney (for kids), which really helped across the spectrum. It had tips that he bought into (e.g. arrive at the opening) instead of us having to drag him, it showed the thrill level of rights which helped him choose ahead of time, etc.

    Also, I wrote (with a sharpie) our cell phone numbers on those little bracelets that you often get when you go to a concert and put new ones on each child in the morning. Saw a pack of 25 at the dollar store and picked them up. It was easy and fun.

  134. melissa says

    Ok I just came back from Disneyland with a 3 year old and 1 year old. First tip. borrow, buy, use GOOD double stroller/jogger if you have one. This way they can sleep comfortably if they happen to tucker out! Next freeze water and bring snacks. We took a ton of breaks and utilized the baby centers in Disneyland and areas such as the water area for small kids in Cal. adventure and the imagination station room (i think that’s what its called)for a cool quite place to relax as well. We also took advantage of the parades and shows they also have running almost all day. As for rides, choose the pinocio or snow white to give an intro to scary rides…if they like it, then you can do rides like pirates…if not..stick to the slow stuff! Character breakfast…so great (minnie and friends) kinda pricy but well worth getting to meet a lot of the characters without waiting in line and you can gorge yourself with food! One last tip. find a map before your trip so you can map out everything you want to see without stress! Most importantly…wait till they’re 4! lol!

  135. Golden says

    Apply sunscreen before you get in the car to go the park. I feel so bad for all involved when I see mom trying to apply sunscreen in the parking lot of the park and the kids want to go!!!!

    Glo necklaces are fun to pull out in the parks after dark.

  136. says

    Take turns taking kids on their favorite ride. I think I rode the haunted house at Disney World with my uncle, my mom, my dad, … anyone who would take me.

  137. Laina says

    Our best tip is to appreciate the small, local amusement parks closer to home. While we are saving up for the big “D-Land” pilgrimage, small kids don’t necessarily need the biggest scariest rollercoasters in the world to be entertained. They have lower thrill thresholds.

  138. JK says

    Love the giveaway and all the tips! Would simply add to enjoy the magic through your kids’ eyes :)

  139. says

    We always dress our boys in the same brightly colored shirt. When one of them wanders away it’s easy to quickly scan the crowd and spot the bright orange, red, yellow, etc shirt. Easy to remember what color to look for when they are all wearing the same color.

  140. Michelle says

    To save park time for what you can do only when you’re there, go to a merchandising place near home in advance. Show them they can buy all the fun stuff some other time, and explain that you want to keep park time for those things they can only do there. I’d also discuss what’s important – figure out how much the kids really care about the characters vs. the rides vs. the play areas. Also keep in mind the energy levels – our son REALLY needs exercise – is the park well suited to him getting his run time? Or is it more sitting/riding stuff that will end up making him cranky?

  141. Marla says

    If there are any water rides, bring a zip-lock plastic bag for items like cameras and phones.

  142. Justin says

    For kids (and adults) of any age, try to structure the day with sitting, whether that be on a ride or in a restaurant or watching a show. Plan on eating at least one meal indoors where you can sit and get some much-needed air conditioning!

  143. Jen says

    We went to Disneyland with a four year old and although she doesn’t usually use a stroller, we decided to buy a cheap umbrella stroller (was also cheaper then renting). The experience wasn’t too bad. If you’re taking a stroller, make sure to tag it in some way that it’s completely identifiable and also if you can make it look undesirable, that will also decrease the chance of it being taken. However, since it was a cheap stroller, it wouldn’t have been a huge loss, and we could also opt not to take it back on the plane with us.

  144. says

    Definitely lower your expectations about rides! It’s simply not possible to go on as many rides with little kids as you can when everyone in your party is older. Also, if the parks offer a fast pass type option, take advantage of it. You’re already going to spend a ton of money and it’s worth spending just a little bit more to bypass the lines.

  145. Meliss says

    Plan a lunch with characters or in a special place. It gets everyone inside (in blessed AC) and sitting down, yet doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on the general excitement if there are characters visiting the table or if there’s a giant aquarium to watch. Also, there is no such thing as too much sunscreen or water bottle refills (and associated bathroom breaks.) But most importantly, GET THERE EARLY. You can do more in the first 90 minutes a park is open than you can do the rest of the day.

  146. Heather says

    Instead of giving kids a certain dollar amount that they can spend my parents told us at the start of our trips that we were each allowed to buy one souvenir. They made a point of telling us ahead of time and it always worked well. When we asked for something the answer could be “Yes, but this is your one thing.” It worked well for every trip, including the one where we were 3 and 5.

  147. Amanda says

    My tip is to pass on the park food… Except for an ice cream or lollipop here and there of course! My kids are much happier after eating oranges, pbj, fruit squeezes, nuts, trail mix, etc. then after eating pizza, fries, and soda for every meal. Fewer meltdowns too!

  148. Amy says

    Dressing the kids (and the adults!) in matching colors makes it MUCH easier for everyone to keep track of each other in a crowd. Before I had kids I used to see families doing this and think they were dorky. Now it’s one of the many un-cool things that turn out to be worth it in the mom world.

  149. Robin S says

    We just did Disney World with a 1 year old & 4 year old before my husband left for deployment #4… and surprisingly had a great time! We were lucky enough that my mother came & helped w/ the kids, but my best tip is to not have high expectations! I over-research all trips, so I made an itinerary with the five things we wanted to do/ see each day we were there, and if we did at least 3 of 5 I was satisfied :)

  150. Sandra says

    Waterproof baggies for phones/valuables. Even if you avoid the water rides, there’s always the possibility of rain and better safe than sorry!

  151. aly says

    bring your own water. that gets ridiculously expensive and always decided it is needed RIGHT THAT VERY SECOND OMG I DONT CARE EVEN THOUGH IT’S $10 AT THIS STAND GO GET IT NOW NOW NOW NOW

  152. says

    I would say my best tip is to try and go off season if possible. Less lines and heat make for less meltdowns and more smiles and more rides. We would always go the weekend after labor Day and there were no lines. It was amazing how much of a difference it was just by waiting a few weeks. :)

  153. says

    my best tip is to pack plenty of those disposable rain ponchos. they come in handy when the unexpected storm arrives and are so small you can tuck them into your purse.

  154. Elise Browne Hughes says

    Two tips:

    1. If your kids are small, but beyond the stroller age, consider renting a stroller anyway. (Yes, this in contrary to one of your tips, but I’m allowed, right?) The stroller gives you a place to keep your water bottles and snacks and such, and it’s a lot easier to give your kid a ride in there than to carry him when he’s exhausted at day’s end.

    2. If at all possible, stay at an onsite hotel. You won’t need to drive or worry about parking and you’ll be close enough to go back to the room for a siesta if needed. At Universal Orlando, staying at one of the onsite hotels has the super added bonus of providing you with front of the line access to all rides! Soooo worth it.

  155. Lisa says

    Remember that you can always come back!!! Don’t try and do it all at once and make sure to watch your kids closely for signs of tiredness. Amusement park meltdowns are NO FUN!

  156. Leslee says

    If you have a kid with special needs, you can go to Disney’s City Hall, or the guest services office at any park and ask for a Guest Assistance Pass, which lets your WHOLE party go to the front of the lines. They can’t legally ask what your child’s diagnosis is, but they will ask what the general issue is (can’t climb stairs, wait in line, etc.). They don’t publicize the pass, but it DOES exist.

  157. amy says

    Memorize the location of every. single. bathroom. And the quickest routes to one of them from every major landmark in the park you’re at.

    We went to Disneyland for two days last October for my son’s 4th b-day. The first day I had a map on hand if needed (hah!), which resulted in several near misses and one more than near miss, if you catch my meaning. So that night I did what I have just told you to do and it made a world of difference. Those precious seconds that you spend figuring out where you (are on the map), where the nearest bathroom is, and the fastest way to get there, can mean the difference between dry drawers and having to shell out $40 of your souvenir money on Disneyland pants.

    jibssa at gmail dot com

  158. jessica says

    I took my then 3 year old to Disney world with the family and was amazed at how great he was. I was a nervous wreck but after the first day I realized I didn’t have to be. He was curious and talkitive and for that one magical week he listened to me and was a perfect kid. It is great to go with multiple family members because you can trade off and get a break and everyone has fun!

  159. Jen says

    I actually disagree on the idea of not going until they’re older, at least for Disney. We went to DL two years ago with a 4.5 year old and a 7-month old. It was challenging at times, but there’s something to be said for your kids experiencing Disney when it’s all still truly magical. Even now, I know my daughter wouldn’t see it as all sprinkled with fairy dust the way she did then. We are hoping to go again in another year or two so my son can get the full experience too. Yes, you give up the chance to go on some of the bigger rides, but I still think it’s worth it.

    (And I’m Canadian, so no need to enter me in the contest, as wonderful as it would be!)

  160. Kym says

    Many newcomers to parks don’t know that often, theme parks have a parent or concierge room. A place to nurse, relax, let babies or small toddlers play. Disney World even provides some supplies like diapers if you’ve run out. Ask at the entrance or ask an employee!!!

  161. says

    Great advice. I’m taking my niece and nephews to Universal and Disneyworld for their 10th birthday in August and can’t wait. My tip (for myself) is to not stress and remember this is for the kids and to let them enjoy it at their pace.

  162. diane says

    My tip for Disney World is to go early, then return to the hotel for pool and rest time in the late/hot afternoon eat a nice dinner and head back to the park for the night! We haven’t been to Universal yet – hopefully we’ll win this trip and get to go soon:)

  163. Kathryn Humphreys says

    We’re newbies at this, these all sound like great advice. Thanks!

  164. Kim says

    After doing WDW this spring break and nearly divorcing (not really, but at the time…) in Epcot mainly d/t overtiredness: Fit in flexible but mandatory rest breaks (not necessarily naps)at least for meals and snacks, allow “sleep-in” days during multiple day visits, and be flexible with those, and I agree with the poster re: fastpasses – best things ever! 2nd worst part of WDW was the rides we could have FP’d but didn’t and ended up waiting in endless lines! Even tho there were only 2-3 of these, they were truly painful. I would have a plan for touring WDW to at least loosely follow. And although I strongly recommend sleep-in days (which are dear to my heart), truly our most productive days were when we got up early, if that’s important to you. Therefore a mix is probably best. Interestingly, my 5 y/o did much better than hubby and I through the whole trip!

  165. Rita says

    Bring along a “normal”, bland snack–pretzels, PBJ–something entirely different from all the junk food, because it will be appreciated to

  166. Rebecca says

    My tip would be to put some planning into what you will be doing while you are standing in line – do your Google homework to avoid playing I-Spy again … and again … and again. :)

  167. says

    Expect and accept at least one melt-down per person, per day. Don’t stress about it, just know that everyone is entitled to their one, and then move on. :)

    Yup, even the mommy.

  168. Megan says

    I’ve got a few…

    Visit during the off-season. Early autumn is a great time; the weather is more temperate and you’ll avoid the summer crowds.

    Bring a mostly-empty tote for carrying extra dry socks (walking around with wet socks after a water ride is no fun) and items purchased at the park.

    Try to catch a show or enjoy a nice sit-down meal in the middle of the day to give you an opportunity to rest while still enjoying the park.

    Bring an empty Zip-lock bag to store your cellphone, watch, and other electronics to keep them safe on water rides (you might as well keep your extra pair of dry socks in there, too).

    Bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it up at drinking fountains throughout the park and stay hydrated without having to pay high prices for bottled water.

    Bringing an extra pair of shoes and switching mid-visit can be a huge relief to your feet and help you to avoid foot blisters.

    When you first get to the park, agree on a place to meet (such as a large fountain, tall clock, or other landmark) should anyone get separated from the group. Teach small children what the name of the place is and remind them of the place throughout the visit.

    If your phone supports it, temporarily change your screen’s background or wallpaper to list “If found” information. This can be done by writing the information on a piece of paper and taking a picture of it. Provide your full name, email address, and alternate phone number.

  169. Audi Shake says

    Budget realistically… know that you will get ripped off and get it over with at home so it doesn’t make a bad mood there… And let loose and enjoy all the careful planning you’ve done!

  170. Summer says

    Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen…Our rule was if we were eating , we also put on sunscreen again. For a family of fair-skinnned folk, this is essential!

  171. Terri says

    Best tip? Pay the extra price to stay in the park itself. It’s more than worth it when you know that your room, supplies, or a brief interlude for swims and naps is merely a short shuttle ride away!

  172. charif says

    Strollers for those with kids under 3, lots of snacks and go slow and don’t try to do it all. I think getting a season pass to the park closest to you is the best way to really enjoy it.

  173. says

    What?! Holy cow – great giveaway. I totally agree with your age recommendations. As much as I was tempted to take my daughter to a big theme park while she still believed princess’s were REAL, it just wasn’t realistic for our family. The first time we went to a park (LEGOLAND – LOVE) our youngest was 4. we had an AMAZING time – and the kids were great.
    My tip would be… go off season. We all hate crowds. Also, don’t go somewhere JUST to go to a park. Find out what else is near (usually a beach!) and spend equal time there!

  174. Zuwi says

    Take a second pair of shoes for everyone. That way you avoid pain in the same spots every day.

  175. Kathleen says

    We’ve done several trips with our large family and have learned a lot by trial and error. We have had the most success when we can stay at a nearby hotel and bring the kids back to the hotel for a nap and some down time. May I mention that my husband and I needed it too? This way we all are ready for round two. Older kids can put in the marathon day at their own pace while the younger kids cool off in the pool or with a nap. Thanks for the great give-a-way.

  176. Ryan says

    Two tips: extra sunscreen, and sharpie your contact information on your child’s tummy in case they’re separated from you!

  177. says

    Places like Disneyland charge a high price for bottled water and packaged drinks, but you can ask for a cup of water from any restaurant or food vendor and refill empty water bottles at all the water fountains to stay hydrated for free. Fastest way to ensure a miserable time is to try to tackle a crowded park while dehydrated.

    Additionally, save the air conditioned/shaded rides for the hot times of day and they’ll provide a nice, cool break (i.e. Tiki Room or Haunted House) from the sun and the crowds. They help everyone in the group recharge and last longer if you don’t have the option of heading back to your hotel for an afternoon nap and swim.

  178. SJ says

    When visiting an amusement park with children of different ages, it helps to have one parent go with an older child to enjoy age appropriate rides/activities and for the other to take the younger one. I also find it is much easier to follow the younger one’s lead. Mine may like the same spot for a long time and rather than trying to see and do everything, it is smoother to allow the little one to set the pace.

  179. says

    For smaller/younger children, research what rides they can ride before you go in too far (most parks have guides and maps near the entrance), and steer clear of the ones that they can’t ride. Nothing kills a joyous outing faster than a meltdown because a toddler doesn’t understand that he/she is too young/short to ride on the flying elephants (or whatever). As an additional precaution, explain in advance that not every ride is suitable for him/her so it’s not a shock if you can’t avoid all the off-limits rides. My 3-year-old was determined to ride the Barnstormer (high-thrill pendulum rider) and the Tornado (high-thrill roller-coaster) at Dollywood, and it took a lot of redirection skill to keep this from ruining the day [my wife is awesome]!

  180. says

    It’s OK to split the pack.

    Parent 1 & big kids hit a few serious rides, while Parent 2 & little ones do ones that would bore the big kids to tears. There are plenty that everyone will enjoy too, so rendezvous at the common interests.

  181. Mor Mor says

    As a grandmother, with multiple trips to D-land (we live in OC), my advice would be to limit the “carry ons” to bare necessities. Keeping track of jackets, sunscreen, water bottles, toys, hats, candy, balloons, strollers, etc. becomes a chore that distracts from the fun. (And often falls to the elder.) Also – don’t turn your nose up to a wheelchair rental – great way to hall grandparent, stuff, tired child.

  182. Julie says

    If at all possible, avoid going to the Florida theme parks in the summer heat.

  183. Mary Pickett says

    My tip is to have your lunch and dinners early to beat the crowds. If you eat lunch around 11:00 and dinner around 5:00 you won’t have the long wait. And when you’re finished the lines will be shorter because everyone else is eating.

  184. Marie says

    Give your kids a nap when they need one! Pushing them past their limit is not helping anyone.

  185. Megusta612 says

    Before you go talk through the experience with your children in a story-like fashion. Describe how you have to wait and how it will be tiring, how sometimes we all get tired and frustrated. Then talk about how many memories your time together will produce. It worked like a charm when I took a 3 month, 2 year old and 10 year old on the long journey from Minneapolis to Orlando and still does now that they are 4, 6 and 15!

  186. Robin says

    I bring special snacks that they don’t normally get so they’ll actually eat! Then no one gets cranky from lack of wanting to eat. (They’re all picky eaters.)

  187. says

    I make sure we’re all dressed in the same color and that the boys don’t wear sports jerseys with their names on them (unsafe). We look a bit dopey, but at least I can find them in a crowd a bit easier. We hadn’t taken them to any of the big parks, believing in not upping the ante any sooner than necessary. Last summer the schools gave away free Six Flags tickets for having read enough books during the year, and that was that. Ante up. Both of them like the big rides too, so it becomes Mama who is the only one scared.

  188. Monica says

    This is specific to Disney parks, but I’m sure other parks have them too. The Babycare centers are amazing. Take advantage of them. The one in Animal Kingdom is fab- air conditioned room, bathrooms, places to nurse, change baby, and a big cool room with a Disney movie playing for older sibs to hang out while parents are tending to baby. Also, they have everything you might ever need for sale there- sippy cups, diapers and wipes, Tylenol, baby food etc. I’ve even brought bigger kids there just to chill out for a little break from the parks!

  189. says

    Ask for gift cards to the park for Christmas before you plan to go. That way the pain of spending is reduced for parents, and knowing you have X dollars on the gift card gives you an excuse to say yes when your kids ask for random snacks, drinks, toys.

    Also, I’d disagree with the no strollers idea. We took two strollers, both little umbrella ones. We had a 5yo and almost 3yo, and they were both relieved to take a break from walking and we were relieved to be able to go at our speed (not theirs) and to give them a break from the trudging in the heat. Park was good about having spots to park strollers, and it also gave us a place to stash sweaters and snack bags. We loved having strollers! :)

    Thanks for the giveaway! *fingers crossed*

  190. Lacy says

    My best advice is if you are bringing a stroller to pack it full of non-perishable food. You can still eat one meal or so at the park, but the little snacks the kids want throughout the day won’t cost you $10 a pop.

  191. Ree says

    I agree with the tips on younger kids and babies. For older kids (8 and up), we’ve had the most fun when my kids each brought a friend with them. That way, they always have someone to join them on the rides they like and less in-fighting between the siblings.

  192. says

    I make sure we’re all dressed in the same color and that the boys don’t wear sports jerseys with their names on them (unsafe). We look a bit dopey, but at least I can find them in a crowd a bit easier.

    We hadn’t taken them to any of the big parks, believing in not upping the ante any sooner than necessary. Last summer the schools gave away free Six Flags tickets for having read enough books during the year, and that was that. Ante up. Both of them like the big rides too, so it becomes Mama who is the only one scared.

  193. Jennifer M. says

    I live and grew up in Florida, we take our kids to Orlando for about a week each year. My best tips: Apply sunscreen to everyone’s full body before they get dressed, you can get burnt through your clothes, bring the spray on kind in your bag for a second coat around noon. Everyone needs to wear socks and tennis shoes, this is not the time for cute sandals. Pack snacks (fruit is a great choice, because it’s hard to come by in the park, tangerines and apples are good choices). Pack your own souvenirs (Mickey, Sponge Bob, and Princess stickers, coloring books, and plastic toys are easy to come at the dollar store or walmart, pack them and then “surprise” your kids while they are waiting in endless lines, you’ll save money, but you will also save the hour your child would have indecisively wandered around the overwhelming gift shop). Insist on going back to the hotel for a family nap during the hottest part of the day (go back to the hotel, drink some cold water, lay the kids down and grab a shower for yourself, it’ll help you get a “second wind”). If you don’t have dinner reservations somewhere in the park don’t go back without eating dinner (we always stop at Sweet Tomatoes, it’s 2 exits east of WDW and the kids will eat a huge plate of salad in a hurry, because they want to go back to the park, and you no longer feel bad about all the french fries and ice cream they ate). If your kids didn’t get a nap, don’t stay for fireworks, head for the hotel an hour before your childs normal bedtime (That way you will both be sane the next day).

  194. Aida says

    We’re going to Orlando in November and plan on resting in the middle of the day and also just making sure we’re rested enough to have fun.

  195. Christie says

    Love this give away! I have been visiting Orlando for the past 25 years and cannot wait to see the latest Harry Potter World! With young children I would always visit blogs to get the latest on the the 1) BEST days to visit a park, 2) ALWAYS make a reservation for lunch or dinner – lines can form quick and delaying a meal was a guarantee for cranky kids. 3) STUDY the park map and identify 3 main activities you/kids want to enjoy. Don’t overdo, same some for a return trip.

  196. says

    I’m a HUGE fan of SafetyTats. And no I’m not in any way associated with them. I found them through the Zearly facebook page. They are cute tattoos that you can pre-order with your kids’ names & phone number or you can order ones that you can write on. You put them on your kids and they’ll stay on all day. They’re cute too so it’s ok if they’re visible and look a little better than black permanent ink (that can be difficult to take off). I ordered several of them and have them in my purse just in case we’re out and decide to detour to an amusement park, the zoo, the mall or any other place that’s crowded.

  197. says

    Although I haven’t taken my kids to an amusement park yet, I’ve been to quite a few in my day. I was always much happier when I remembered to wear sunscreen and drink LOTS of water!

  198. says

    My best advice is one good for any activity, but especially at parks– remember to make sure kids have plenty of water and snacks. You’re outside, in the heat, already have excitement overdrive– either pack or make sure to look for some snacks that have some protein rather than pure sugar- to help keep from crashing. It is easy for little ones to get dehydrated and it’s worth the extra bathroom trips to help keep them on an even keel.

    Also, take extra maps and do some highlighting of bathrooms, water fountains, etc. This way when you’re tired and hot with a cranky kid- you’re not trying to figure out the map or going further than you have to. :)

  199. Liz Busby says

    Travel with extended family. The “pack” can split into older kids with adults to ride the “scary” rides, and younger kids with grandparents and motion-sick adults to ride the boring stuff. That’s how we always did Disneyland as kids.

    Also, try going during the first week of (local) school or just after a summer holiday. We went to Disneyland the day after Labor Day and had zero wait for all the rides. A much more pleasant experience.

  200. krista says

    My best tip is to babywear! That is, if they are still small enough. Makes it quick and safe to scoot around crowds.. letting them down to walk where it is more open, relaxed, etc. :)

  201. Tara says

    I thought I already left a comment but I don’t see it here — so here I go again! My best tip would be to wait until the kids are old enough to really enjoy it and to be functional within the constraints of a park. My 2 1/2 year old would have fun for about an hour and then be overwhelmed, plus she needs a 2 hour nap in the middle of the day! It would be miserable for all of us. Can’t wait to take her when she’s 5 or 6 (or older).

  202. Sarah says

    Take lots of breaks. Listen when the kds say they need to rest and don’t push them just because it is an expensive vacation. I have overheard so many parents tell their kids to “suck it up and go on” when it was obvious the child was exhausted. There’s just no need for that. Plan a long enough trip to enjoy it!

  203. says

    Bring plenty of water, and don’t push the kids past their limit. There is nothing wrong with going back to the hotel after 2 hours and going swimming in the pool!

  204. Marci Levitt says

    Ride new rides first before letting little kids ride. There may be scary parts that you don’t know about

  205. sandra says

    it sounds tackey but the same color shirts… keeping everyone together is hard but little ones will remember what color your shirt it if theirs matches

  206. Suzanne says

    Definitely pack emergency items such as band-aids (for blisters), hair ties (for long hair), extra sunscreen/hats/sunglasses, water, lollipops, small games to play in long lines, and many snacks…granola bars, PB&J sandwiches, etc. I also purchased a bunch of glow sticks/glow bracelets and necklaces for a great night time experience and got them MUCH cheaper outside the parks. They didn’t take up much space, kids love them and you’ll be less likely to be “roped into” buying all the junk from vendors.

  207. Kirsten says

    Don’t force anything! Just relax and let everyone have fun. If you get stressed out then nobody is going to have a good time – yourself included!

  208. Erica says

    My best tip (having just returned with four kids from Disney World this past Tuesday) is to take a few items you can give to younger kids to entertain them in line (books, coloring book, a few crayon). Also be patient with your kids & the crowds around you.

  209. says

    My hack is let your children specifically choose an activity/ride experience – (even if you already know you are going to do it before they choose.) Then they feel in control of some of the planning – and after you tell them how much fun it was to do something they picked, it’s an instant moment of pride.

  210. Mickie Byers says

    My tips would be sunglasses, sunscreen, lots of water and backpack of snacks!! We have also had our kids save their own money for souvenirs- it helps them see what they really want to buy.

  211. says

    What a fun opportunity! I’m learning so much from these tips! My tip is to bring an extra adult if you can. I once went along with brother’s family to help with my niece and nephew when I was younger without kids of my own and they said it made all the different to have an extra pair of helpful, energetic hands!

  212. says

    I have always told my kids that they could get something at the end of the day as long as they don’t have the “gimmies” all day. They spend the day perusing different items and deciding what they may want and at the end of the day, as a reward for good behavior and not whining all day, they get to pick a toy/treat/keepsake to take home.

  213. Jamie says

    Our best experience has been to not worry about the normal schedule and have the stroller available for napping, but if the nap is later than usual just let it go and have fun.

  214. Raj says

    As a part of surrendering to the experience, just let the kids lead for awhile.. it’ll let you see the whole thing through the kids’ eyes

  215. Emily says

    What a timely post – we’re heading to Florida in two weeks to visit Disney and hopefully Universal too. Thank you! Would be great to win!!!

  216. says

    My tip is for the trip out to the park – especially if you are driving.

    On one family vacation to keep us entertained in the car (this was before the availability of movies…) my mom bought a ton of cheap toys and trinkets and wrapped them all up individually. Then when we were getting bored, a little fidgety or as a reward for good behavior, we would get to open a “Christmas present.”

    I really don’t remember the trip all that much but I remember getting to open a lot of presents.

  217. says

    Put the kids in brightly colored shirts so that if they wander off, they are easier to spot in a crowd. Also, if you plan on any water rides, bring an extra shirt & shorts just in case. And last but not least, if you have children that are different heights and one can go on a ride and the other is just a hair too short, you can fold napkins and stick them in the heel of their shoes to get them slightly taller.

  218. says

    I would say let things go with the flow and make sure the kids are in on the planning. There are a lot of things YOU want to see or accomplish, but the kids have different things they want to do and if they aren’t having fun NO ONE is!

  219. Courtney says

    Plan out your visit and prioritize based on your child’s interests and likes/dislikes.

  220. says

    3 things from 2 trips to Disneyland:

    1) rent (or take) at least one stroller if you have younger kids. Take a kerchief or something you can tie around the handle so you can easily identify it.

    2) tell the kids they can buy what they want on the last day. Our kids only wanted a couple of things each.

    3) expect the kids to get bored with the park. Our kids were more interested in swimming in the hotel pool by the third day.

  221. Glenn Hunt says

    Great article, and thanks for the additional tips. We use a Sharpie and list our cell phone numbers on the inside of our toddlers clothes.

  222. says

    What is your best tip for enjoying amusement parks with little kids?

    Go at THEIR pace. Let them dictate where you go, what you do, what time to eat, etc. If you try to rush them around and don’t let them experience it for themselves you’ll have a bad trip. They won’t know what rides they miss, they will just remember the park being theirs for the day. :)

  223. DCGirl says

    My best advice is to rent a stroller (we called it a “rolling chair”) for your 5-6 year old “big kid”. The first day we didn’t and he pooped out completely by 2pm. The second day we rented the stroller and it made our trip so much better. We were able to move much faster and stay much longer.

  224. says

    I think it’s a good idea to have your children have your cell phone numbers in case you get separated. Sometimes I write the numbers on those thick rubber bracelets. Other times, I have my boys tuck the numbers in their pockets. I also teach them to look for park employees or parents with children if they get lost. Another tip is to carry one of those small backpack sacks with semi-frozen bottles of water in them. That way you have cool drinks all day and have refillable bottles, too. We save a bunch by never buying drinks in the park.

  225. carriem says

    Stay nearby for mid day napping. So key to enjoyment is a rested family. With older kids, go to the pool in the midday heat, and go back as it cools down.

  226. Chris says

    Sometimes simple pleasures are best. When my son was 5 we visited Disney World. I think he had the best time when he had his bathing suit on and played in the water misting things, and the “pop-up” fountains. Sure, there are lots of bells and whistles around, but what your kids will cherish is the time they got to spend with you. Remember to have fun, even if you don’t get to go on all of the flashy rides.

  227. says

    Since we have little kids AND big kids, we try to take Grandparents with us in case we need to split up. Fastpasses at the Disney parks and the flashpasses at six flags are soo soo worth it (even though you have to pay extra for them at six flags). Bring a backpack with snacks, even if only one adult carries it. Finally, bring reusable water bottles so you can fill them up all day, especially needed if you are going when/where it is warm.

  228. Carey M says

    Carrying a backpack full of antibacterial wipes and kleenex! I am a mom of 4 year old twin girls and both of these items are in my backpack right now!

  229. says

    I would have to say not overdo it. Know that you can’t do everything in one day and trying to cram everything in just makes everyone miserable. Go slow and enjoy it.

  230. Finuala says

    My best hack is to bring small brown paper bags and left over paper party cups. We purchase one large drink and divvy up between the paper cups at meal times. Some places sell souvenir soda cups that refill at a cheaper price. We fill our party cups and head back for cheap refills throughout the day. If the park sells things like buckets of popcorn, we divvy up between the brown paper bags and nobody has to fight over the bucket!

  231. patricia mejia says

    my tip would be to get plenty of rest the night before, have a breakfast of champions so you and your kids have plenty of energy for the fun day ahead. relax and enjoy the park!

  232. says

    If there is something you really really want to do without the long lines, get up early, eat breakfast in the park and get in line first thing for that one important thing. The line should be very short and you get a nice start to the day doing something everyone really wanted to do.

  233. Mimi Mattison says

    Have your children dressed alike. This helps you to keep track of them. If (or should I say when) one slips out of sight, you just have to look at the one with you to know what you’re looking for. This is easy for me to say, my kids are 2 and 4; might be harder when kids get older and want to dress themselves…maybe at least all wearing the same color tee shirts. Helpful if parents wear the same color, too, for ease in finding each other in the inevitable large crowds and lines.

  234. says

    Get there early and hit the things that appeal to the youngest travelers first with little to no waiting. The lines for the pre-school friendly rides get huge in the late morning, and stay that way up until pre-schooler bedtime. If your family are not typically early risers, remember that there are copies of some of the most popular parks on both coasts. If you are Eastern to Mountain time zones, you might benefit from choosing the option in California, where it’s easier to get munchkins up bright and early. If you are flying anyway, it might be worth it to fly West instead…

  235. says

    Our kids earned $25 to spend when we went to Orlando last time. They got to decide how they wanted to spend that money, but that was the limit on souvenir money. It was a great learning experience and really cut down on the begging/whining.

  236. Tonya says

    My tip would be to make sure you schedule in potty breaks. It sucks to be in line and have to get out of line to go potty!

  237. Wendy B says

    Don’t be in a hurry. The more you push kids to rush, the more frustrated everyone gets. Let everyone, even the youngest, get to have input on what they want to do, even if what they want is to look at a flower for 2 minutes. :-) Relax and go with the flow.

  238. says

    Just enjoy it! They are only little once and these memories will last forever. The whining and crying are just temporary.

  239. says

    Take 51 cents with you! One of my favorite souvenirs are those pressed pennies that cost 50 cents. They are cheap, interactive (you choose the design and turn the crank) and they take up no room in the luggage. If your child keeps a treasure box at home (like mine does) then the penny will be a perfect addition and a great reminder of the trip. It can be turned into a necklace or other jewelry and they are fun to collect.

  240. says

    Another great tip is to look for “alternative waiting areas.” We went to Disneyland as a family, and as my son has Asperger’s, asked for an alternative waiting pass. This let us wait in a line that is NOT the long queue, which helped with his anxiety, and let us enjoy the park. Not sure if other theme parks offer anything like this, but it made for a much more enjoyable day. I’d also second Jason’s comment above, as going on a weekday to Disney was soo much more enjoyable than going on a weekend. Thanks for the great giveaway idea!

  241. Janice says

    We took our 2 and 4 year old to Disneyland this year and it actually worked out really well. Like others mentioned, we kept our expectations low (did a limited number of rides and attractions) and left before nightfall. I also second bringing in lots of drinks and snacks your kids are familiar with (if permitted by the park of course) to prevent hunger-related meltdowns and sugar crashes.

  242. Laura says

    Drink lots of water, use sun screen and definitely go with a minimum of 2 adults.
    What a fantastic giveaway! Thank you!

  243. says

    We went to a local amusement park last year with our then 5, 3, and 6 month old. The six month old did get to go on a couple rides, and we all enjoyed all the shows, but when it was time to take the 5 year old on the roller coasters everyone else was stuck. There were only 3 rides the 3 year old could go on alone and the park wouldn’t allow both little kids to ride with the same adult.

    We are already planning to go with as many friend families as we can this year! I also put my cell phone number and name with my child’s name on a piece of paper inside a zip lock bag in their right shoe. My friends lost their 5 year old at Disney and she panicked and could not speak to the adults, thankfully her grandma had sewn her name and phone number into her purse and she could show that. My kids get equally nervous, we practiced showing their shoe before entering the park.

  244. Alix says

    Write your cell phone number on the kids stomach with a sharpie, and teach them to find another mommy and raise their shirt if they get lost. Writing it on the tummy means your cellphone # is not displayed for all the world to see, but it is easily accessed by the child. Even my 2-year old knows to do this when we go out to anyplace busy like the zoo. One of my best memories is taking my son to a themepark when he was 2 years old- they joy in their little faces is just wonderful.

  245. Helda Montero says

    Follow the sun….whenever possible, plan the rides and activities around the sun. For those with longer lines or that are outside go early in the day or later in the afternoon. Schedule indoor or shaded rides mid day. Also, arrive as early as possible. You’re up anyway, so might as well get some good park time without all the crowds.

  246. L. Scott Johnson says

    Use the fastpass options the big parks offer to cut down on line waits for the popular rides (and then go ride the other rides while waiting for your ticket time on the popular ride). Take pictures of the kids with as many novelty souvenirs as they want in the stores: less to buy and less clutter in the rooms after the trip.

  247. Hillary says

    My best advice is to anticipate that you’ll spend a lot of time in line and come prepared with games and trivia type stuff that can be done while you wait. There are lots of great games that don’t require any objects in this book – http://www.amazon.com/Games-Bible-Over-Rules-Strategies/dp/0761153896.
    Obviously this doesn’t work with little kids, which is all the more reason to not take little kids to an amusement park with long lines! ;)

  248. Susan says

    Stop for a show, if the park has one. Sure, they’re cheesy, but it’s a great time to catch your breath in the shade.

  249. Patty says

    Take a photo (with your cell phone or camera) of your child each day before you head out. That way you have a current photo in the right clothes to show park security if you get separated.

  250. Tom says

    Be there right at park opening so you can get a couple of must-do’s in before the lines get too long.

  251. Meghan says

    i would make sure they are old or tall enough to ride some of the rides, bring more people with you so they can watch the baby, when you ride the ROLLERCOASTER!!! Maybe even bring a sitter or have somewhere you can stay where someone can watch baby to check out nightlife. I would love to take my son! I never watched any of the shows, so thats what we would do and also the kid rides made my world when I was little, like the hannah barbarra ride. Love going there its a family tradition, even just to take pictures with the characters! Just be creative, there is so much to do there for everyone. Its a great place to people watch too!

  252. WS says

    Consider renting a house outside the park. We have stayed 2 miles from the Walt Disney World gate in a 5BR house with a pool for about $300/night. That is less than a single night at one of the premium Disney hotels! With your own kitchen, you can cook a breakfast or dinner or two and save money and eat better food.

  253. MarkD says

    Particularly for someplace like Disneyland, go midweek, late September. Its still beautiful and warm, but the crowds are so much smaller. Also, stay in a hotel close enough to go back and forth to the park, and get a package with early entry. Then go into the park early, when its cooler and less crowded, and go back to the hotel by lunchtime. Relax, take naps, splash in the pool, be together. Then get an early dinner and go back to the park around 5, when everyone else is getting tired and hungry, and have a refreshed evening.

  254. Sarah says

    If your kids are excited about seeing the characters at Disney, plan to attend a character breakfast at one of the hotels. Otherwise you’ll wait in very long lines to see Mickey and Minnie.

  255. Rachel P says

    Don’t let your 2 year old eat a large chocolate gelato in the Italy section of Epcot. That being said, the bathrooms at the theme parks are remarkably clean!

  256. says

    We go to Disneyland/California Adventure frequently. A few tips:
    * Get out of line and let the kids run wild in free play areas: try Pirate’s Lair, Toontown, the water play area in A Bug’s Land, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
    * Definitely make a reservation for one or more meals. Try to get a meal some place that’s a little quieter, to get a break from the sensory overload. If your kids are good in restaurants, book a lunchtime table at the restaurant in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride: It’s cool, dimly lit, and calming.
    * Take a break at a show, but research before you go so you don’t waste time at a dud.
    * FastPass gives you a return time window, but you can use the ticket even later if you want. If your kids love a certain FastPass ride, you can get a FastPass, wait in the regular line, go on the ride, and often go right on it again with the FastPass. We do this regularly with the Buzz Lightyear ride.

    And yes, yes, yes to relaxing some rules, embracing the chaos, wasting money on junky souvenirs, and exhausting everyone. You’ll all forget about the sore feet and whiny episodes by the next day.

  257. says

    Lesson learned the hard way…if doing a week long vacation, plan down days in between. Do half days. Enjoy it. I am an organizer and over-planned…wanted to pack as much in as possible. But we all ended up ill at each other, it was not at all relaxing!

  258. Kathleen Hoppes says

    If you’re with young kids, you’re up early anyway. So get to the park as soon as it opens and head to the back of the park and work your way forward. Most people begin at the entrance, so lines will be shorter.
    Also: at Disney, make breakfast reservations with characters. That way, no standing in line to see all the characters!

  259. Kathleen Hoppes says

    Start at the back of the park. Lines will be shorter.
    Also: character breakfasts do double duty: you get to eat while the kiddies see all their favorite characters.

  260. Whitney says

    Swallow your pride and do something totally uncool: Wear matching shirts and develop a unique call/whistle. It’s so easy for a kid to get distracted and separated… Have visual AND audio clues for a lost kid to seek!

  261. Alecia says

    My best tip is to not feel like you need to do and see EVERYTHING the first time you take your kids. Tell yourself it’s okay to skip things. We made that mistake our first time and were exhausted!

    Also, we’ve always found that having a leisurely morning at the hotel (sleeping in, slow breakfast) and then going to the parks around lunchtime is better. EVERYONE else with kids is doing what you suggested, which means that all the kiddie rides are super packed in the mornings, but while those kiddies are napping from an exhausting morning, we are riding the rides during lunchtime and early afternoon with less of a crowd. Obviously, this doesn’t work for older kids as well, but it’s worked really well for us while our kids are young.

  262. Tony says

    My hack is pack the kid’s cheap flip flops/sandals, swim suit, a lightweight towel and a plastic shopping bag. I live within walking distance of an amusement park. Most amusement parks these days have water play areas for kids. I see so many kids completely drenched in their regular clothes, forced to trudge around the park until they dry out. I can’t imagine having to walk around in soaking wet clothes and shoes – I’d be miserable! Change into swimsuits and flip flops to play in the water area, change back into dry clothes and store the wet stuff in a plastic bag in your backpack. Everyone’s happy!

  263. Katherine says

    freeze water bottles to take with you – by the time you are hot and wanting them, they will be thawed enough to drink but still cool.

  264. says

    We haven’t been to an amusement park yet, but for long day trips we enforce some quiet time in the middle of the day. Even if it’s not an actual nap, we find a low-key attraction and zone out for a bit. Also: hats for the sun.

  265. Tony says

    Give your children the opportunity to earn their amusement park allowance, instead of just giving them money for the park. Considering the price of the parks, an even better idea would be to have the money they earn come out of someone else’s pocket instead of your own… make and sell potted Easter Grass in April, mow a lawn in may, or weed a neighbors yard in June.

    Either way, they will value spending money they earned themselves more than money just given to them to spend.

    Having kids earn a money for fun activities isn’t just limited to amusement parks either, it’s good for any vacation or weekend outing.

  266. Tony says

    Brilliant idea! I was just talking with some parents the other day about losing a child, one lost their children at the Zoo and the other an amusement park. I’ll have to share this tip with them.

  267. monica b says

    my amusement park tip have flip flops and bathing suits in a waterproof bag so that they can change into them for wet rides and not have to walk around for hours afterward in damp clothes. dry clothes go in the bag during the ride if there aren’t lockers nearby, and then you have a place for the wet stuff when you’re done with water rides. the only downside is you definitely need a tote bag/backpack, but if you’re with little ones you’re going to have one anyway.

  268. Melissa says

    We did not go to an amusement park until my youngest was 3, so this tip is not applicable to infants and toddlers. Make sure the kids know what to expect. We gave them the run-down. For example, there will be lots of people… we expect you to stay close. If we ask you to hold our hands, we need you to do that. They have some understanding as to what we want from them and why. In my experience that helps. And this tip works for parenting in many, many different situations.

  269. Amy says

    2 adults make it much easier. Also, a backpack with water bottles and healthy filling snacks for all!!

  270. Ami says

    A good stroller with plenty of storage. We have a car-seat-back organizer that can be hooked to the stroller to hold toys, snacks, etc.

  271. Tracy says

    Go early in the week – there are fewer people there on Monday through Wednesday than Thursday through Sunday.

  272. Katie A. says

    Hmmm…I don’t have any tips. I’ve never been to amusement park with or without kids. The thing I hear the most is, if you can swing it, go in the off season. That’s our plan in a few more years when our kids get a little bigger.

  273. says

    We buy passes to our small, local amusement park every summer and go several times with our two boys (now 9 and 5). They both enjoy different things about the park, so we utilize two different strategies. First, we will often split for an hour or so, with each parent taking a boy. Second, (when we prefer to stay together), we will designate each boy in turn to be “in charge” for a period of time. That child gets to decide what area we are in, which ride is next, etc…
    Lastly, we give each boy $5 to spend at the park per visit, which they have to use for things like games & desserts. My last tip is only applicable if, like us, you have season passes: don’t do a whole day at once, go for an hour or two after dinner in the evening, or go first thing in the morning and leave at lunchtime. Remember to have fun!

  274. says

    my tip for first time riders: build up to the big rides; start small and work up slowly. It gets easier to convince them that the bigger rides are more fun.

  275. says

    Best tip I have after spending 2 wks at Disney in March w/ 3 little ones is to just go with it- if the kids want to sit for an hour to eat ice cream- let them- if thekids want to ride a ride 12 times in a row- let them~ the smiles and memories are irreplaceable!

  276. Steph says

    I would love to go to Orlando, and my 8yr old would LOVE the Harry Potter world. I have been once that I remember, and that’s only because I saw the photo…

    My hacks for taking kids to amusement parks are some of the same:
    1: Take at least two adults, especially if you have more than two children (I have three)
    2: Preplan what attractions you want to see-if possible group them into smaller areas to visit over different periods of time (this may be some in the morning or some the next day, etc.)
    3: Good shoes, with extra socks (If you plan on water rides, do them earlier or later in the day-not the top heat hours, wear clothes that dry quickly and wont be uncomfortable, and keep a spare set of clothing for each person in the car-including shoes, hats, etc)
    4: Pack a lunch in a cooler in the car and some snacks in a small backpack to take with you. This will cut down on the quantity of overpriced food you will buy in the park. This also helps because it requires you to leave the super stimulus areas and take a few minutes to relax (maybe even nap?)
    5: Invest in the souvenier cups that you can refill for 99cents. This again will cut down on the amount you spend at the park, but still allow a way to get teas, lemonades, water and the occasional soda.

    Hope these help someone. I use these regularly when I visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my troop.

  277. Julie says

    Bring lots of snacks and drinks. My kids are happier, longer with food to keep them busy. I would also say start with small amusement parks first, and then move up slowly to the big ones.

  278. Mia says

    With family in Florida, I was also a child of DisneyWorld. So we are repeating the cycle and have taken our 4yo to Disney twice so far. We learn something each time, so forgive the length of this post.

    -I whole-heartedly endorse the multiple adults comments, the more the merrier. This is also a great opportunity for older cousns to join in- they seem to enjoy the kiddie rides more than the older ones. Plus they know how to work the video games. Everyone needs a charged cellphone and a pre-arranged rendezvous point.

    -Bring spare clothes (even shoes) so that you can enjoy the spray fountains/ water features freely. We keep one of those microfiber travel towels with us too- handy for drying ourselves and the stroller after rain. Take 1 set with you and leave the extras in a locker up front.

    -Bring extra princess costumes from home. It is much less expensive to accesorize in the parks than to outfit from scratch.

    -Splurge on a character meal in the castle if you are going to Disney world. Yes, it is expensive, but it is a good meal and a show and there is time for slow-to-warm-up kids to get some time with a princess.

    -Let go and enjoy. This trip isn’t about the grown-ups. When you take little ones, it is all about the magic. My dd’s favorite ride was the boat ride to the park (we camped at Fort Wilderness). She was just as happy riding to and fro as actually doing anything in the parks. This one is tough for park veterans who are all about strategies to get onto all of the best rides before 10am. But there will be time for that after the strollers are done.

    -If you will regularly go to a park, pick a spot to do a family photo each time you visit. The resulting album is priceless.

  279. Robb says

    Since I’ve seen plenty of parents attend theme parks with kids who ARE too young, the advice I’d offer these parents is to make sure to leave the park mid-day for lunch and naps. A well-rested child makes happy parents and happy everyone else. Constant theme park all day long is just too much sensory input for toddlers. Everyone needs that mid-day break.

  280. barusch@gmail.com says

    My best tip is to take advantage of the early morning. Everything is less crowded and therefore less overwhelming. You can always take a rest around mid-day and then return.

  281. says

    A few tips based on our frequent visits to Disneyland/California’s Great Adventure:

    Get out of the lines and find places to let the kids run wild. Free play areas at these parks include the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Toontown, and the water play area in A Bug’s Land.
    Definitely get a reservation for at least one meal, preferably someplace off the beaten path. If your kids do well in restaurants, at Disneyland book lunch at Blue Bayou, inside the Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s cool and soothing, a welcome break from all the activity outside.
    FastPass tickets are honored after the designated return window. The wait to return can get very long for very popular rides, so if you want to use FP for Space Mountain or Indiana Jones, do it early.
    Use FastPass for to do rides twice in a row. We get a FastPass ticket for Buzz Lightyear, wait in line, and by the time we get off and the kids say “Again! Again!” we walk right on with the FastPass.
    Take a break at a show, but do your research ahead of time so you aren’t stuck with a dud.

  282. Serena says

    Best advice: visit with extra adults if possible, especially aunties who may love scary rides more than the parents!
    i would love to win this – it would be an excuse for our first “real” family vacation!

  283. Rebecca says

    Aside from the obvious answer which is be prepared for any situation while there and pack accordingly. I would say my best tip is to make sure to take rest stops in the park to let the kids run around and let off some steam from being cooped up in strollers and long lines. Several amusement parks have designated play areas to climb on toys and run and play. My daughter is always in such a better mood after which helps the sanity of Mom and Dad too!

  284. Amber says

    Best Tip: buy season passes for local amusement parks (we have 3!) … and because I’m a working mom, I don’t always have time to make elaborate weekend plans, but I ALWAYS want to do something fun with the family – this gives us a great GO-TO solution for fun for the whole family. And the more you use them, the less you pay! (Cost per use model ;-)

  285. E says

    My best advice for visiting an amusement park with little kids is for the adults to realize “you can’t see/do everything”. The kids will love what they experience and not miss out on anything they don’t see. Usually, the parents expectations are far greater than the kids.
    My two HP fanatics would see this as a dream come true!

  286. heather says

    My best tip for navigating Disney is to buy souvenier items @ Target/WalMart/etc. (where they are cheaper than in the park) and then surprising your kids with them while there. (May only work for younger kids)

  287. Alexis says

    Don’t forget your camera, but don’t spend every second documenting your kids’ every move, either — step back and enjoy the moment.

    And for summertime park-going: you can never have enough sunblock!

  288. says

    Bright or distinctive shirts for the whole family. I like to put the kids in bold stripes so I can spot them easily in the crowd. After that, it’s patience patience patience, and remember you’re there for the kids – let them choose what they’d like to do.

  289. Lisa K says

    I’d have to go with wearing the baby or young child. It gets them up above knee-level in the crowds and it’s a safe, familiar place for your child, plus they can’t take off, if they’re wont to do so.

    For uncoordinated me, it also means I have to have another adult along ’cause I’m not able to get the babe off my back gracefully/safely while standing haha, but it’s always better to have another grownup along to outnumber, or at least equal the kiddoes.

    Thank you for the FANTASTIC giveaway!

  290. Yvonne Casey says

    If you there for more than a few days, take a day off from busy parks to sleep in/ go to bed early and you’ll be rested for more park fun ( and have less crankiness). Your tip to rest in the early afternoon is also a great one.

  291. Tammie Goodrich says

    I would love these tickets, however my advice is to have one adult to every child and to listen to your childs words and wishes , when they are ready for a break , take one, when they need a drink , have one on hand, most important , Don’t forget the SUNBLOCK…

  292. says

    I say, don’t expect too much and be flexible. Maybe they want to ride E.T. 20 times, maybe they don’t want to ride it at all. Be prepared to stay until the park closes or leave before dinner. If you stay flexible the whole family can have fun without ruining the day.

  293. says

    Take your time! Rushing through a park with little ones only puts stress on yourself and the little ones. Keep your meal reservations simple and don’t overschedule! Another hack… Tip….in the summer months, bring your little ones a change of clothes. When they start to get hot, go to a cool place and freshen them up. It will make them feel better!

  294. MomVee says

    I recently found out that Disney and Universal both have a rider switch program so parents can take turns watching a young child without having to stand on line twice! It’s not very well publicized but it dies exist.

  295. Celeste says

    Do whatever works. No one will be judging your parenting skills. If your Kidd wants a Mickey ice cream for lunch. Do it! Heck it’s better then a tantrum in the middle of a sweaty ride line.

  296. CherylM says

    1. Sunscreen
    2. Snacks
    3. If your child is at the younger end of the scale, find quiet corners a few times during the day. They exist. Even 5 minutes without chaos works wonders.

  297. Jeannine B. says

    Try to remember that you are there to enjoy the magic of Disney World with your family. Yes, you are probably spending a ton of money on your vacation…but don’t forget that its supposed to be FUN! You don’t have to fit everything into one trip…its impossible anyway. Too often, you see kids crying in the parks because they got woken up early and are staying up later than ususal. We always schedule a “day off” in the middle of our vacation. It great to have a day to sleep in an relax at the hotel pool.

  298. says

    Make sure plan ahead for breaks and some downtime during the day! The kids will be running at full throttle as soon as they get to the park and will quickly wear themselves out. Taking breaks or even leaving the park for a couple of hours in the afternoon can help recharge their batteries and avoid the hottest part of the day. Allowing both the kids and the parents to better enjoy the entire day.

  299. Afrikka says

    My best advice is not to try to cram everything in on one day. It makes for a very long day and very tired children. Also, I like to go during off times, during the week in the summer and during the school year. This really reduced our wait in line time, which was a godsend with a 3 yr old.

  300. Kelly says

    I grew up in Orlando and witnessed countless families attend the local spots…and learned that the key to a good time with kids is flexibility. It’s hard not to try to squeeze every moment out of the day when you are on vacation, especially when money is tight and you want to stretch a dollar. Too often it backfires and no one enjoys themselves. Be flexible. If you can’t be, then perhaps it’s just not time for that vacation just yet.

  301. says

    My kids are 4 and 19 months so we have yet to take them to an amusement park. I am guessing I would need the usual items we pack on trips and a lot of extra patience!

  302. says

    Don’t get caught up in running from line to line to save time, it gets overwhelming for little ones. Remember that to them it’s ALL exciting and new; take time to enjoy the sights and the peoplewatching. Remember the idea was to take a trip for the KIDS so don’t let their memories be filled mostly with rushing about with harried parents.

    Oh, and freeze bottles of water to take with you.

  303. Kngates@comcast.net says

    We have had great success with packing our own healthy snacks, then saving our money for full, fun meals in the Park. Mid-day naps back at the hotel are a must!

  304. EhF says

    My tip would be try not to fit in TOO much, just enjoy the time there, and if you don’t get to everything that’s ok!

  305. says

    My kids are 2 and 4 so the best advice I’ve given myself so far is to avoid amusement parks for the next few years. I give the ‘go in the morning, nap in the afternoon and return in the evening’ advice to everyone I know – it was certainly the best strategy when I was a kid going to amusement parks.

    Great giveaway by the way – thanks!

  306. says

    The best advice I can give is allow your children to decide what to do and do not complain. If you child does not want to ride that really cool drop 400 feet roller coaster that you been dying to ride all year but instead wants to go on “It’s a Small World” again, go on “It’s a Small World” .

    Maturity is delaying gratification and you will have another day to ride but your will children will never be that young again.

  307. Jeremy says

    My best advice is whenever possible, get a pass that enable you to go to a park (or parks) for multiple days. Some parks will let you go to 1 or 2 parks for up to 7 consecutive days at a pretty reasonable rate. That way you don’t feel like you need to rush through everything in one day.

  308. says

    If you have to limit the number of rides due to token systems, each child should get an equal number of tokens to be used at their discretion. That way, if one wants concentrate on rollercoasters and the other does not, they can determine how best to spend their tokens without inconveniencing their others.

  309. Tiffany says

    Best advice? Be calm and embrace the moment. Your kids are only this age once. Enjoy it!

  310. Amy says

    Take time before going to the park and look at the maps online so you know where the kid rides are and places for climbing and burning off energy before you go.

  311. says

    I would advise 2 things: 1- Find out what is allowed in the parks. I know that Aquatica allows you to bring sandwiches and yes, even beverages as long as they are not glass or you use straws.

    2- Bring a change of clothes. Aside from getting sweaty as is common in Sunny Florida, there are water rides in many parks and having an extra outfit, especially socks is essential!

  312. says

    I advise taking water and tylenol/ibuprofen with you. It is easy to get dehydrated, and also to get headaches from too much sun and excitement. Stopping a headache when it is just beginning, especially if you are prone to migraines like I am, can avert much unpleasantness.

  313. says

    I think your tip, ‘Surrender to the experience.’ was the biggest one for me! I was nervous about our kids catching ‘Disney-fever’, about the commercialism and the cost of the food, etc. But once we got there, it was pure fun to watch my little ones experience the magic. We knew we wouldn’t be going again for a few years, so we were able to enjoy the food, get souvenirs, and just have fun with the kiddos there.

  314. Stephi says

    Measure the heights of your kids before going to them park. Read restrictions online and avoid the heartbreak.

  315. David Hutchinson says

    1. Plan ahead (using guidebooks–I like Birnbaum’s stuff)
    2. Pace yourselves (the park isn’t going anywhere)
    3. Go back to the hotel mid-day and swim, take a nap, etc. then go back to the park and stay up late.
    4. Give kids a souvenir budget and stick to it (buy stuff the last day you’re at the park)
    5. Focus on family fun, not conquering the park.
    6. Include the kids on some of the choices that need to be made each day.

  316. says

    Be careful of how much you try to do in a day. Sometimes less is more – and can keep you from having exhausted kids on your hands at the end of a long day!

  317. Mindy Book says

    My tip is not to force any child on any ride. If he/she doesn’t want to ride don’t try to talk them into it.

  318. Kendall says

    RELAX… try to enjoy yourself by letting go of high (even medium sized) expectations. It’s good to have a rough itinerary, but don’t get too upset when it isn’t being followed exactly. Just enjoy yourself!!

  319. says

    Great giveaway!

    Travel tip: Try to keep your children in their routine as much as possible. Don’t force them to skip naps, eat later, or wake earlier just for the sake of a theme park! Also, having more adults than children is helpful!

  320. says

    We took my daughter to Disneyland when she was 3 1/2 while we were visiting friends in California. She was almost too young. A great time was had by all, but waiting until she was a bit older would have been ideal. A plus was that the park wasn’t near as large as Disney World.

  321. says

    Make a plan to route through the park, with the understanding that it is not carved in stone. Even having a map of the park, you can show the kids “this is where we are now. We will see xy and z before we get to “your favorite ride”. Part of the kids excitement overload is anticipation. If they know what is happening next, they are more amenable!

  322. says

    Grab a few small toys from a dollar store, wrap them up, and keep them in the diaper bag. If you are in a long line give them a “Line Present” to distract and amuse them! Also if the kid is old enough you can talk about being patient and calm in line and reward them with Line Presents. This can also be fun if you have to wait awhile at a table while one parent goes to get food at busy counter service restaurants at the parks.

  323. Bill W. says

    Took the kiddos to another Orlando attraction last September. Strollers. I thought the kids wouldn’t need ‘em. My wife insisted. I quickly realized they weren’t for the kids, they were for us. When they wanted to walk, the strollers carried the backpack and other stuff. When they were tired, the kids rode and we didn’t have to put up with the interminable “I’m tired.” Made the whole trip much more enjoyable.

  324. says

    2 adults and good sunscreen. And if you can manage it, don’t tell the kids before hand so they get a good nights sleep the night before. Nothing makes an amusement park worse than kids that are tired before they even arrive.

  325. Stephen in Texas says

    I will second the remarks made by several folks regarding the FastPass options available at many parks. They really do help to reduce the stress and frustration of rushing to the next ride only to spend most of your time waiting in line. Anything that reduces stress and frustration makes for happier kids *and* parents.

    We took our four- and six-year-olds to Disneyland a few years ago. Planning our rides ahead of time and using FastPass allowed us to eat a leisurely lunch without feeling like we were missing something.

    Speaking of leisurely, the advice that helped me the most was to remember: this is supposed to be a *fun* day. So what if you don’t see and do everything! As soon as you sense tempers starting to fray, just pull back and slow down.

  326. Randi says

    Don’t try to do too much, have everyone choose one thing they want to see that day. Make time for free play for kids and adults.

  327. BKC says

    Bring that waterbottle! Sometimes you can forget how much walking you’re doing, what with there being so much to see and experience, but it adds up to miiiiiiles by the time the day is done. Keep yourself and your kiddos hydrated, and special treat drinks should only be in addition to, not instead of, a smart amount of water.

  328. Judy B says

    Thanks Asha! We have yet to do a large amusement park, but are getting close to the right age for it. I prefer to get an early start and go to museums/zoos/event right when they open. Usually the crowds are smaller and it gives us the maximum amount of time before nap/meltdown time. I would also think it would be best not to force any rides, despite knowing how much fun it is. I was devastated at our local fair when E didn’t want to go on any rides he was eligible for, but figured pushing the issue would make everyone miserable.

  329. Stephen in Texas says

    Now that I’ve read most of the comments, let me throw out a tip that I haven’t seen mentioned.

    Now this doesn’t always work, but it has worked for me several times. Many people seem to ride the first thing they see, then move to the next, and so on. Sometimes you can avoid much of the crowd by heading for the back of the park first and working your way forward. You end your day near the front of the park, after most of the crowd has moved on.

  330. Lisa Sturycz says

    First of all, if you are going with young kids, make sure you plan enough time and keep an open mind about your plans…its all about the kids, so when nap time comes, take a break and make sure your little ones have a nice comfy place to nap. Also, never get too caught up in the moment that you overlook the obvious like when your little ones normally snack. Try to make your plans around any other special “time of the day” quirks that only your family knows best.

  331. says

    I’ve only done a water park with my kids; we’re trying Busch Gardens in July. Best tip is go on a weekday or other down time so the park isn’t so crowded.

  332. says

    In the morning before you enter the park. Take a picture of each kid in exactly what the are wearing that day. That way if you guys get separated and you need the help of park security to get reunited again, you don’t have to wrack your brain to figure out what everyone was dressed in.

  333. Bob says

    Frozen bottles of water – bring them and you will have cool, hydrated kids all day and save a least $50 over the course of the day (for my family of 5, even more)

  334. Cynder says

    My best advise is to have low expectations and realize that one day your kids will refuse to be caught dead in an amusement park with you, so enjoy it all while you can!

  335. says

    My best tip would be grab your kids and go have some fun. Fully immerse yourself into the atmosphere and be a family of big kids. Good times

  336. Greg C. says

    Make sure you have a plan for what to do if anyone gets separated from the others. Some ideas may include identifying park employees to children as “safe” people to approach if they are lost, picking a meeting place or two, or even making sure Kids have a ID card firmly attached somewhere and understand that it can be used to help find their parents if they get lost. Another simple safety measure is for everyone to wear the same color shirt, and make it a bright one if you can. Forewarned is forearmed, fail to plan – plan to fail, etc.

  337. Lisa says

    I think staying at a hotel near the park is the best idea. If you’re close, you’re more likely to head back for naps and quiet time since it’s less of a hassle than trying to get back to the car and driving back to the hotel. In other words, you’re less likely to push it.

  338. AnEmily says

    I haven’t had the opportunity (yet!) to take my boys to an amusement park, even though I grew up an hour away from Disney World and went all the time! My parents were pretty awesome about taking us during less busy times, and spending as much time as possible in the shade and cooler rides!

  339. Cecil says

    Best tips are to pick a sustainable game to play while in line. This can even motivate kids to want to be in line! This can be from a made-up game, to a Leapster or DS. Also, prep the kids ahead of time for snack and bathroom breaks. Lots of prep and agenda sharing works well for my kids. Lastly, lots of water and sunblock.

  340. Brandy says

    Always allow time for long lines. The sooner you get to the park the more time you have I always suggest family groups such as friends and their kids!

  341. Ann S says

    My tip would be to start the day early and then break for a nap in the afternoon and come back to the park later in the day to enjoy the evening shows and lights.

  342. vanessa says

    Build up the excitement by watching both official promotional videos for theme park of choice and home made YouTube variety. Kids LOVE that kind of thing. Share stories of when they were younger at the parks (kids love stories about themselves) and how much more fun they will have now that they are older/taller. Mommy to 9, 6 and 15month old.

  343. says

    Bring a change of clothes and/or rain ponchos. Who wants to skip the water rides? But no one wants wet socks all day.

    Also, the best day to go, overcast days when it might rain. Especially here in SoCal, where it doesn’t rain much, the lines are short on days it might rain. Plus it’s usually cooler.

  344. says

    I’m not experienced in this yet, but from what I’ve seen as a Disney Frequentier: bring lots of snacks and take breaks to eat them.

  345. Marena Lewis says

    Take one adult per child, wear comfortable shoes, try to find a park that has a water park attached (or water rides) so you can cool off and just remember you’re there to have FUN – that’s the purpose of the trip to have FUN.

    We’re going to FL in July, two adults and two 8 year olds. We plan to do Magic Kingdom for one day, Sea World for a day, and would love to win the Universal tickets. Good luck to everyone who’s entering!

  346. says

    Drink lots of water and make sure to pack the sunscreen. Dehydration & sunburn are a bad combination… especially if you plan on going multiple days!

  347. Matt Mullins says

    Great tip for going with younger kids: be prepared to step out of the parks in the early afternoon to go back to the hotel. A nice lunch, some TV, and maybe a quick nap or swim are awesome, and gives everyone [parents included] a much-needed recharge for evening activities.

    And do it *before* anyone is tired.

    We’ve done WDW 5 times, each with kids under 4, and this works wonders!

  348. Scout says

    Dress your kids in bright matching outfits. It makes them easy for you to spot and keep track of, and it also helps everyone else know exactly who those kids belong with.

  349. says

    I recommend going when the kids are a little older. 5 and above works great. DEFINITELY two adults to tag team. Once you are there the kids in you is going to come out and you will want to have as much fun as the kids.

    If the park will allow it bring some snacks – protein bars, etc. We like going Tuesday-Thursday as the crowds are smaller. Mid September has been great in the past

  350. says

    Relax, enjoy and don’t try to cram too much in. Have fun. If it works, it works, if not…go get ice cream. Or to the pool.

  351. says

    My best tip is this – anticipation is part of the fun! Download the park maps ahead of time and let the kids plan out their day. Each one can pick their top 3 rides and make those the priorities! Pick your picnic spot or restaurant and even get them to highlight bathroom stops. Giving the kids the “control” (in thier minds anyway) means that they really own the best day of their lives and means that there is no little fights over what is happening next.

    (ps. I live in Canada so Im not in the draw but GOOD LUCK!)

  352. says

    Bring Grandma and grandpa along if possible to help and hold any children who may be too little to go on rides. Also, pack lunches to avoid spending way even more money at the park.

  353. Dave says

    Wait until your kids are 9 and 10 to go. You don’t want to be limitted to the kiddy ride areas. By the way, my kids are 9 and 10. We love amusement parks.

  354. Yaxoara Correale says

    I’m a mother of two beautiful little girls and my advice when taking little children to the amusement park is to plan everything ahead of time. Priorities must be set before taking a trip to the amusement park. For children it’s better to go at an early time. Make sure to speak with your children before leaving to the amusement park setting the rules and talk to them about safety. Let them know to always be next to mommy and daddy and not talk to strangers. But above all the planning, setting priorities, what to take, etc. make sure to have fun :). Spending time with your children is a time that we must take advantage of because children grow up so fast. Seeing them have fun and enjoying themselves is the best tip to enjoy a time at the amusement park.

  355. Kelly Tracy says

    Go at off-peak times of year. If your kids aren’t in school yet or you homeschool, go in late spring or early fall to miss the crowds and still enjoy the weather.