by Elisabeth Myrick and Elisabeth Nixon
With school out, it’s a great time to visit one of Central Florida’s splash pads or theme parks. Our editors share their tips and tricks for a fun family day out at the parks!
Bring your own stroller. Your kiddos will be more comfortable and you’ll always be able to find the right one, plus you save the ridiculous stroller rental fee. (Hint: Add a ribbon or button to easily identify in stroller parking. Strollers do sometimes get moved while you are in line.), plus you save the rediculous stroller rental fee.
Bring a water bottle and pack your own snacks (maybe even your meals!). Many parks will now allow you to bring in your own food, but double check the guidelines of the specific park you are visitng. The rules are often more strict if animals are involved (think Sea World, Animal Kingdom or Central Florida Zoo).
Ask the professional photographers to use your camera too. Yes, theirs will be SO much better than your iPhone’s but you can choose to purchase the best pictures of the day from them and keep the memories of the others.
Make your own “family” shirts. Search ideas on Pinterest and make them ahead of time. You won’t lose each other and you won’t be as tempted to purchase pricey theme park shirts.
Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses and maybe even a hat.
Extra clothes. Especially for the newly potty trained or newborns.
Children’s pain reliever. After a full day on the go, little legs and muscles can be sore. Plus you never know when a fever may rear its ugly head. (And a bottle of pain reliever can break the bank at a theme park!)
Healthy drinks and snacks that your little one will eat.
Weather-appropriate clothing. Jackets for chilly nights and quick-drying clothing for water rides and activites.
The ALL-IMPORTANT lovey. Smaller is better and plan to give them a “bath” when you get home to wash off the day’s activities.
Huge camera. Newer cell phones have some awesome cameras.
All the toys and “stuff” to keep them busy. If the theme park doesn’t do that, what’s the purpose in going?
Check for apps! Many parks have apps you can download to help you get the most from your visit.
Plan your day ahead of time. If you know which shows you want to see, check the times the night before. Then you can make a plan for your day to know where you need to be and when. (Rather than figuring this out in a crowd of hundreds of people, looking at a large map.)
Look for “Park Opening” ceremonies. Several parks in Orlando have a special opening ceremony that many people don’t know about.
Check the weather and pack accordingly. You don’t need a raincoat if the chance of rain is 20 percent, but remember that sometimes 70° feels cold, especially after the sun goes down and everyone is in summer clothing.
Every bag, even the smallest, will be searched when you enter the park. If, for some reason, you can manage to go with no bags, look for the special “no bags” lane to get into the park quicker. If not, having your bag unzipped and open will make this process faster.
Consider bringing two bags: One for your valuables (money, ID, tickets) that is smaller and can be worn all the time, such as a cross-body purse, and a larger one filled with all the incidental items like clothes and snacks to leave on your stroller.
ENJOY your day! Try not to plan out every second (and be flexible with your plan!) and spend the day playing instead of looking through your camera’s viewfinder. Remember your children’s faces the first time they see Mickey or watch a sea otter flipping through the water and celebrate it WITH them in the moment.