Top 9 Mistakes Made at Amusement Parks

Heading to an amusement park with the kids? You’re probably researching everything you should do to get ready. But you should also be checking all the things you absolutely shouldn’t do at the amusement park with kids. So we’ve pulled together our top 9 mistakes made at amusement parks. You’ve been warned!

We are one of those families that LOVES amusement parks. Living in Southern California, we have our fair share of choices, and we’ve hit them all up. We’ve had annual passes to several of them at different points in time and have made a few observations.

A lot of mistakes are made at amusement parks. Some, by us. Others, we’ve just overheard. But we’re here to bring them all to you, and hopefully save you from making some big mistakes.

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Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations

This may sound bad, but you’re bringing the kids you’ve got. If your kids fight with each other at home, they’re probably going to fight with each other in line at some point. And that’s okay – as long as you’re ready for it.

I used to think my kids would magically transform into perfect little children out of sheer gratitude for being somewhere special. Sure, maybe they were happy little angels for the first 15 minutes. Then lines got long, the day got hot, and I realized I needed to adjust my expectations or we were all going to be miserable.

Don’t Forget to Bring Snacks

Amusement park food is often not that great and is almost always incredibly overpriced. Which, frankly, I’m ready to accept when we all need to sit down for lunch. However, if your kids are on my kids’ schedule (a snack every 42 minutes) you’ll want to BYOS.

Not to mention that kids get hangry suddenly and of all the lines they’re going to wait in, you don’t need a 45 minute line for a corn dog to be one of them. Unless they can snack on something you brought while waiting for said corn dog.

Make sure to check the official policy, but most amusement parks are fine with you bringing in some snacks in your backpack or diaper bag. As long as you’re not rolling in with a full cooler of meals, you probably won’t have a problem.

Bring things you know your kids will love (because standing in line when they’re fussy is not the time to force them to eat those healthy bars they don’t like). It’s one day. Going a little extra on salt and sugar isn’t going to kill anyone for a day. Have some special snacks that you usually say no to? Consider saying yes to them today. They’ll feel extra special in this fun space – and it will keep them as a special treat in the future.

Don’t Be Too Proud to Use a Leash

Once upon a time I rolled my eyes when I saw people walking their kids on leashes. Then I had kids. You quickly realize it’s not poor parenting but an issue of safety with some kids.

My third child is a real sneaky little girl. Her signature move is acting like a well behaved toddler and then out of nowhere darting away fast as lightening. And since she’s so tiny, she can weave between legs and get away from me much faster than I can catch up.

So after a recent disastrous and heart attack inducing trip to Disneyland I realized it was time to bust out the leash again. Luckily there are some ADORABLE ones now and the hardest part was deciding which one to get! It was so hard to choose I got two!

Don’t Be a Cheapskate

We all have budgets we need to stick to – so we’re certainly not suggesting that you extend yourself beyond what you can do. However, sometimes the Daddy at our house becomes a bit of a grinch at the amusement park and says “No” just because. Be prepared for your kids to ask for all the things. And absolutely be prepared to not say yes to all the things. That would be super unreasonable.

Instead, be prepared to say yes to one or two special things. Maybe it’s one of those stupid balloons inside a balloon that you KNOW your kid will lose eventually and is WAY overpriced. Maybe it’s a bubble wand that you could totally get cheaper on Amazon. Maybe it’s paying $15 to play games in the hopes of winning a prize worth about a dollar. Take a step back, remember that this is a special day, and that it’s okay to have one little splurge in the name of special.

Don’t Spend More Than You Have To

Yes, I know I just told you to not be a cheapskate. But that doesn’t mean you have to go around throwing away your money either! Check for ways that you can save money. Lots of amusement parks have ways to save on entry, whether it’s hunting down a buy one adult ticket, get a kids ticket free coupon or buying ahead through AAA or Costco. Check for allllll the discounts! Teacher discounts, military discounts, bring Grandma along and see if she can get a senior discount. Look for the deals before you even enter the park!

Also think ahead on ways to save on items inside the park. Most theme parks aren’t offering up discounts inside the park – because they don’t have to! But don’t give up on saving a few dollars! We love to save money by asking for what we’re looking for in local Buy Nothing Groups on Facebook. These groups are usually organized by neighborhood so it’s close and easy to get what you need if it’s available. This week I’ve seen people in my group give away Free Refill Legoland cups, Mickey ears, and Princess costumes to parents searching for items.

Lastly, make some souvenir purchases before you even arrive. We love to grab Mickey ears off Etsy, or character autograph books and bubble wands off Amazon. Not only can you save some cash, you can also save some time from waiting in line for souvenirs.

Don’t Make Empty Threats

If I had a dollar every time I heard a parent threaten to go home from an amusement park, I could buy my whole family lifetime annual passes. Which would be helpful, because the only time there’s even a CHANCE you’re actually going to follow through on this threat is if you have a pass. And even then, unless you’re already thinking about leaving (which is when I HIGHLY recommend using this threat!) you’re probably not going to follow through.

Which is fine! There are a TON of viable threats you can make. Like, you need to stop or:

  • You don’t get to pick the next ride.
  • We’re going to get a snack and sit down until we’re ready to try some more rides.
  • You can sit out the next ride (this only works if you have extra adults obviously)

Try one of these or your kids will quickly realize that you’re all bark and no bite when they keep fussing but you realize that you spent hundreds of dollars on today, and you’re not ready to call it at 10am.

Don’t Hype Up Things Your Kid Can’t Do

For your sake – and your poor kiddos – make sure you do your research ahead of time to make sure you know what attractions your kids can do. There is little worse than having a kid SUPER excited to go on the log flume ride only to arrive and find out he’s 2 inches too short. (Trust me! I learned this one the hard way!)

Remember, not all height requirements are made the same. What is a ride your kiddo can do one place they might not be able to at another!

We recommend to go a step farther and do not get excited about rides unless you are a couple of inches beyond the height requirement. In our experience, sometimes kids measure at home that they’re tall enough, but if they don’t clear the signage at the amusement park, they can’t ride. (Again, learned the hard way!)

(Pro tip – wear your tallest shoes if you’re afraid of this happening! We love to wear hiking boots just in case for kids who are on a height bubble!)

Don’t Make Your Kids Do Something They Don’t Want to Do

I love amusement parks. I love roller coasters. And my oldest is a super tall kid that also loves roller coasters. I was one happy Mama. Until he got scared and didn’t want to go on. Was I bummed? Totally! Did I try to talk him through his fears and concerns? You betcha! But in the end, was it ultimately his decision if he wanted to put his body on a ride? ABSOLUTELY.

We need to teach our kids to trust their limits, and be confident to voice them. You know your kid better than I do, so you know how much encouragement might be right for your kid. You can also put some boundaries up if you’ve got a kid that can’t decide if they’re ready to go on a ride.

For us, if we’ve waited in line and you decide at the last minute that you don’t want to ride, we don’t try again that trip. The adults might still take turns riding while the child waits to the side. Because I still get to decide what to do with my body too! And Mama is ready to ride!

At the end of the day, you want your child to feel happy and secure in the choice they made!

Don’t Forget to Check if Attractions Are Closed

Most amusement parks have apps these days, and thankfully those apps are a wealth of information. One of the most important changing pieces of information to check on is what attractions are closed. In our experience, it’s best for your kid to be prepared for the disappointment of The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland being closed for refurbishments.

If the amusement park you’re going to doesn’t have an app or website with up to date information, consider making a call to Guest Services if you have a little one with their heart SET on going on one particular ride. You could have a GREAT day and still have it be considered a disappointment if you aren’t prepared.

DO Have Fun!

While we can’t prepare you for every potential amusement park disaster (like spilled ice creams or emergency bathrooms breaks when you’re so close to the front of the line) but if you heed our warnings you’ll avoid some of the biggest amusement park mistakes.

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