Getting up at the crack of dawn and standing in line after line to access fried foods, photo ops and amusement rides might seem like a good idea for your first theme park visit. Try it for a day with screaming toddlers however, and you may find you feel differently. From saving money to getting a grip between experiences, here are some tips to keep in mind if theme parks are in your family vacation plans.
Membership perks: Our annual passes to the Kennedy Space Center allow reduced ticket prices for up to six guests, discounts on food concessions and savings opportunities on souvenirs. Other attractions offer different benefit packages, including reciprocal admission at other theme parks, hotel discounts and other deals.
Perspective: Theme park visits usually include children with a differing perspective from adult traveling companions. Relaxed animal encounters, romp time and hands-on activities such as those found at the Astronaut Hall of Fame near Cape Canaveral or The Scientific Center in Kuwait provide stress-free enjoyment for the whole family. Water activities are also a huge hit. Aqua Park, also in Kuwait, and Tampaís Busch Gardens each provide numerous splash zones. (See also: 4 Great Reasons to Visit Tampaís Lowry Park Zoo)
Freebies: Busch Gardens also provides free parking for both you and your pet, along with various free concerts and performances throughout the year that are included with the price of an annual pass. Collapsible water bottles pack unobtrusively into the side pockets of coats, messenger bags and daypacks, allow you to take advantage of free water fountains while still packing light. Simply fill up when you see one to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Breaks: Moving at a break-neck speed for the entire day is trying for adults, let alone young children. Schedule snack breaks, bench rests and even scenic rides on the parkís covered train system to continue the fun without the stress of waiting in lines or walking in the sun. If the venue has spots suitable for travel picnics, consider incorporating a few during an extended visit. In addition to saving money, these give you a chance to regroup as a family in a place thatís less stressful on the kids than a fancy restaurant.
This is a strategy my husband and I also used in Pisa with great success. After driving down from Lake Garda, finding parking and making our way to the piazza, the last thing we wanted to do was wait in line for a table or shop for souvenirs. It was much more relaxing to throw down our sarongs, get out our guide books and plan what we wanted to see while hydrating and enjoying some snacks.