You asked

I want to take my preschooler to a theme park. What tips do you have before we go?

To your child, there’s very little difference between your local amusement park and a full on Disney type extravaganza. Both are fun and exciting! However, if you want to get the most out of your visit, then there are a few tips you can use.
First, consider the target audience of the theme park. Many are designed as much for adults as they are for children, and while that can make it more fun for you, it’s not that much fun for your child when he or she can’t go on most of the rides! Look for theme parks that are designed for children and get the most out of the experience for your child. Some larger theme parks even have smaller ‘mini parks’ within the main area that are specifically for young children.
Avoid going to big, popular theme parks in peak holiday season. Not only will you avoid the crowds that are unpleasant (and risk you losing your child in the throng) but you can also take advantage of out of season ticket prices. Often, you only need to change the time of your trip by a few weeks to get these benefits. Other ways to save include looking out for discount coupons, investigating multi attraction tickets, or choosing parks that charge per ride – not per person.
Plan to visit theme parks either early in the morning, just after they open, or later on in the afternoon, when lines are shorter. Booking ahead, so you can avoid the ticket queues, is another time-saving must.
When you visit a theme park, being prepared will save you money and trouble. Make sure that you pack your own snacks and drinks, for instance, as they tend to cost a lot more inside the park. You could also visit a local restaurant outside of the park for breakfast or lunch before or after you visit. Pack sunscreen, hats, raincoats and extra nappies, and even if your child doesn’t use his or her buggy much anymore, it can be a good idea to take it along. Most theme parks are large, and if your child gets tired of walking it’ll save you or your partner from having to carry him or her.
Make sure that you take spare clothes along too. Most theme parks have at least one water ride and it’s inevitable that your child will get wet. Alternatively, dress your child (and anyone else who will be on the rides) in lightweight clothes, a raincoat or a swimsuit under their usual clothes, so that they can dry off quickly. Towels are also a must for your theme park experience.
Before your trip, why not find out what other events are on at the park when you plan to be there? Parades, shows and other attractions are often a great place to relax a little and are lots of fun for your child to watch.
When it comes to the rides, you should always abide by the rules of the ride. As you know, some have minimum height requirements for safety reasons. If your child isn’t tall enough, then it’s just not safe, so find an alternative. Also find out if the park you are visiting has any facilities for parents. Some allow parents to take turns riding the attractions without standing in line twice. It allows both of you to have fun, without having to spend ages in a queue.
Lastly, make sure that you know what the park policy on lost children is. There’s always a chance that your child will get separated from you, and knowing where security offices and other facilities are make finding them a lot easier.

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