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Posts Tagged ‘theme park’

Family Travel Tip Tuesday: Beyond the Diaper Bag @ Theme Parks

August 11th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Travel Tips



Our family moved to San Diego in 2006.  We have spent the past three years enjoying all that the region has to offer including local attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Disneyland, Seaworld, The San Diego Wild Animal Park and of course Legoland!  In the early days of our adventures we did not travel light.  A trip to a theme park included a double stroller, diaper bag, plenty of drinks and snacks to keep everyone happy, swimsuits and towels, and a sweatshirt for each family member.

Last Sunday we celebrated a milestone on our visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain.  With my youngest potty trained we did not bring a diaper bag or a stroller with us into the park.  It was very liberating.  I was able to go on all the rides without finding a place to park a stroller or stow our stuff.  I discovered that I have lot  to learn about packing light for a theme park visit.  Here are some of my revelations:

  • A fanny pack is made for theme park visits.  Now that I am traveling lighter, I have started using the fanny pack that my first boyfriend gave me for my fifteenth birthday (romantic gesture…huh? ) .  I must admit it is one of the only items that I am still using after 21 years, so David if you’re out there…thank you ;) .  The separate compartments are very practical.  I put my camera in the top one, and larger items in the bottom one.
  • Fanny packs are great for carrying hats and water bottles, but you need to plan accordingly.  Water bottles that have hooks can hang off of the fanny pack strap.  Unfortunately, it’s a bit ackward to carry a bunch, so you may need a hydration pack or more fanny packs.  All caps worn to the themepark should have a hole in the back like a traditional baseball cap.  You can thread the fanny pack strap through the hat  if your kid decides to go on a ride that prohibits hats.  Justin brought one of those military caps without a hole in the back.  I stuffed it behind the fanny pack, but it must have fallen out sometime during the day.
  • If you are trying to sneak in snacks, think small and non crushable.  Nuts or fruit leather are good choices.
  • Tubes of sunscreen or sunscreen sticks are small, light and good for touch ups.  Apply the spray stuff before entering the park.
  • Dry socks are very precious.  I had left these in the car and really regreted this.  My son’s feet got blisters from walking around in wet socks.  Sandals or Crocs might have been a better choice, although Magic Mountain is so huge, I prefer shoes with better soles.  Next time I plan to include a socks in a ziploc bag in my fanny pack.
  • After my visit I have concluded that I would like to try to bring a hydration pack like the one we take camping.  I think it would pass theme park security, keep everyone hydrated, and provide a little more room for stowing socks and snacks.
  • If you decide you need swimsuits, towels, drinks, sweatshirts, or heftier snacks, pack the lightest items you can find.  This is the time to break out those super thin beach towels that they sell in the drug stores.  Juice pouches are lighter then cans or bottles.  Thin light sweatshirts that the kids can tie around their waists are preferable to heavier jackets.  Bring plastic bags for the wet stuff.
  • For a kid who has just finished potty training, an extra set of clothes might be worth carrying.  We had one accident at the end of the day and left a little earlier than expected so we could change into dry clothes in the car.

I’m looking forward to a Disneyland adventure or two before summer is over.  Where are you off to?

Happy Trails,



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Solo Theme Park Adventures

February 19th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Legoland, theme parks, Travel Tips
Jared became a big Pluto Fan on this Visit to Disneyland

Jared became a big Pluto Fan on this Visit to Disneyland

The idea for the Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook came from a series of Legoland visits with three kids and no husband.  Ken works very hard and is also not the biggest fan of themeparks without humongous rollercoasters.  In order to make the most of our Legoland membership, more often than not, I needed to go it alone.  This situation created some limitations.  Several rides at Legoland, had a one adult per child rule, so my preschooler could not ride with my nine year old.  Even bathroom runs take a bit more planning without an extra adult along. 

Since then I’ve also tackled Disneyland, Seaworld, and the zoo on my own.  Each trip  presented some challenges, but also offered plenty of fun.

I  discovered that knowing the park and planning ahead made a huge difference in our Legoland adventures.  Here are a few tips to make your solo theme park visit a little easier.

  • Plan ahead.  Know the age and height restrictions for the various rides.  Try to have some rides and attractions in mind that the whole family will enjoy.  My book, The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook includes pull out sections that give detailed ride suggestions for every age group.  There are many great web resources for other themeparks.  If you do some digging, theme park websites also have this information.
  • Prep your kids.  When I am going solo, I make sure that my nine year old knows that there will be some activities that we won’t be able to enjoy due to our parent kid ratio.  I make sure that everyone knows that the goal for this trip is to have fun as a family.  I try to have a future “Mom date” visit planned, so Justin can look forward to enjoying a few more thrills at some point.
  • Take a picture of your kids using your digital camera before entering the park.  That way if they get lost, you have an up to date picture to share with the theme park staff.
  • Have a family motto.  Ours is “The Smith Family Stays Together” .  This is our travel mantra.  We repeat it often throughout the day.
  • Enlist your older children’s help in keeping an eye on the little guys.
  • Bring a stroller.  It’s a great place to store your stuff and make a quick exit during that end of the day tantrum.
  • Bring a friend if possible.  A theme park is actually a great place to have a playdate, and you can switch kids, if your family is like mine half timid/half brave.
  • Bring a big kid buddy.  Believe or not some of my most fun adventures came with bringing four kids to Legoland.  Since Justin had a buddy he could ride some of the big kid rides, and both boys were helpful in wrangling the little ones.
  • Pack lots of snacks.  You never know when a break or a bribe will come in handy.

Most of all, be brave. Go solo.  Don’t miss out on fun family adventures just because you are outnumbered.  The day won’t be perfect, but the kids will bring home some funny stories, you will have some cute pictures, and everyone will sleep well after all that adventure!

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