Handle it like a pro
Do your research
Know what you’re getting into before you get there. Look at park maps and figure out where your favorite rides are located, and make sure you go there first so your day isn’t over before you get to someone’s top pick. Know where bathrooms and food are, too. Look for a schedule of events and make note of any special events or shows you want to catch, as well as their locations and start times.
Pick the best day
No one wants to go to an amusement park on the busiest day of the year. Long lines, nowhere to sit and overcrowded walkways can be a headache. Try to avoid going on weekends or near holidays (anytime a lot of people are off of work) and call the park to ask for recommendations on which days should be avoided.
Make a family uniform
It may be corny, but who cares? Pick a bright color, and make sure everyone is wearing it. It’ll be easier to find your crew in the crowds. Stay away from reds and blues, since those colors are bound to be everywhere. Go for yellow, orange, lime green or hot pink — something you can spot right away.
Find a meet-up spot
You hope it doesn’t happen, but it can. Pick a spot in the park, usually a central location, where you can all meet up in the event that you get separated. If you have older kids that might be going off alone, arrange to meet there during set points in the day so you know they’re OK. Tell them to text or call if they’re stuck in a long line and will be late.
Plan for the worst
You watch your younger kids like a hawk, but it’s still possible that you’ll become separated. Write your name and cell phone number on a luggage tag and attach it to their belt loop. If you don’t have a luggage tag, put that info on a piece of paper in a sandwich baggie and stick it in their pocket. As soon as you get to the park, show them what the staff members are wearing and tell them to find one of those people if they can’t find you.
Start at the back
If you get to the park right when it opens (and you should!), skip lingering around at the shops and little rides near the entrance like everyone else is doing. Head straight to the back of the park — this is where the best rides usually are, and the lines will be shortest now, when no one else had made it back this far yet.
Bring what you need
You never know what you might need, and it can be pretty expensive to buy supplies at the park. Bring a fanny pack or small backpack filled with a water bottle, Band-Aids, bug spray, moist towelettes, sunglasses, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, gum, hair ties, ibuprofen, cheap ponchos and chapstick. When you get there, pick up a park map and throw it in there, too!
Bring the stroller
If you have a younger child, bring your stroller. We know she’s a "big girl" now and she wants to walk, but there’s a lot of walking at amusement parks, and she’ll be begging you to carry her before it’s time for lunch. Even without her in it, strollers are great for carrying your things and holding your drinks!