Make the most of your day at the theme park with your family by following our top tips on having a fun day.
1. Arrive at a park half an hour before opening
Arriving early gives you time to get your family and all your belongings together, purchase tickets and be at the main entrance gate ready for the moment it opens. The first hour of a park opening is the most important, while others are still arriving in the car park you can enjoy several rides with minimal queueing. Head for the newest or biggest rides first as queues will build up quickly. As soon as you’ve got off a ride head for the next, there will be plenty of time to browse and explore later, that crucial first hour should just be about getting on as many big rides as possible.
2. Buy tickets online
Tickets are usually cheaper online, in some cases the further in advance you buy them the bigger the saving. You may also find online special deals such as adding a meal for very little extra. The other advantage of buying online tickets is saving time at the park entrance queuing, often you to head straight to the entrance turnstile with your home printed tickets.
3. Before joining a long queue
If you leave the queue to go to the toilet or buy a drink you will have to join the back of the line. Pushing through to rejoin where you were is deemed queue jumping and can lead to you being asked to leave the line. Pre Empt the inevitable complaints of “I’m hungry, I’m thirsty and I need a wee” by checking with your little ones that they’re comfortable before queing.
4. Don’t leave valuables
When leaving bags on ride platforms or the storage bins, don’t leave anything valuable in them. Bags can and do get stolen or taken by mistake. Wear trousers or tops with zip pockets so you can secure mobile phones, keys, purses/wallets and cameras without fear of them falling out during a ride or risk them going missing from the ride platform.
5. If it’s a warm sunny day enjoy the water rides early
Take advantage of the hottest part of the day to dry out quicker and help keep cool. If it’s rainy or overcast and you’re staying nearby save the wetter rides for the end of the day to avoid walking around all day in damp clothes. Small ziploc bags will also come in handy for keeping, phones, cameras and purses/wallets dry in your zip pockets.
6. Suncream and sunhats
Not being on a beach or lying by the pool it’s easy to forget the need for sun cream and hats. Standing in queues lines for several hours on, hopefully, sunny days can lead to sunburn and dehydration. Don’t forget to be sun aware.
7. Plan for getting split up
With all the excitement and distractions it’s very easy for groups to become separated, especially in large crowds. Agree meeting places that can be easily found, take advantage of free stickers or wristbands that some parks give away onto which you can write a contact number before attaching to your child (or buy your own) and when arriving in a park point out to children what staff look like and tell them to speak to one if they get lost.
8. Avoid eating at typical meal times
Restaurants are at their busiest during meal times, and ride queues tend to drop with many eating instead of riding. By eating outside of the main meal periods you can reduce waiting time, find seats and tables easier and enjoy slightly shorter ride queues. To help go longer before needing lunch have a large breakfast, which also helps if you plan on enjoying extreme rides and roller coasters as riding on an empty stomach can make you feel sick.
9. Plan ahead for busy days
If you’re likely to be visiting a park on a peak busy day, such as a bank holiday, have a look at the parks website and identify key rides you wish to enjoy and others you’d like to do if you have time. That way you can prioritise what you’d be sad to miss. Looking at the map will also help with getting around a park more quickly.
If your budget allows consider paying for a queue jump pass, if a park has this facility, spending less time standing around helps minimise grumpy and frustrated children, and subsequently parents.
10. Measure up!
Check height requirements for the different rides, and measure your child before going to a park to avoid any disappointment at a rides entrance. The height restrictions are there for safety reasons, staff will have heard every plea going from children to let them ride. Knowing beforehand can help reduce tears on what should be a happy day out.
If a child is under height but others in the family want to ride ask to see if the park offers a parent swap facility. This allows one member of the family to wait with a non riding child, while the others go off to ride. When they’ve got off, the person who waited can go straight on the ride without queueing.