Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tips for Going to a Theme Park With Baby

If you love to go to theme parks such as Sea World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and other similar places, then you're probably thinking that you'll have to give up trips to these kinds of parks for at least a few years until baby is older. That's simply not the case, however. With a little bit of planning, and a few small compromises along the way, both parents can still enjoy a trip to their favorite theme park without having to leave baby behind with a sitter for the entire day (or even longer, if you live out of state). Here are some tips to help get the whole family through the whole day.

Know Before You Go
Since most major theme parks have websites these days, it's very easy to do some research before you even leave your house. The more information you find out in advance, the better prepared you will be -- without having to go overboard. For example, you can check to see if the park has nursery stations and/or feeding rooms available. If it does, then that means you won't have to worry about being able to get hot water (for formula) or privacy for changing and breastfeeding.

Another thing that you should find out about the park in advance is whether or not they have a Parent Switch program. Parent Switch programs are designed to allow mom and dad to enjoy specific attractions even when baby is not big enough to ride along. What happens is that the three of you (or however many are in your party) wait in line together as usual. But then, when you get to the front, instead of both parents getting on the ride, only one goes. The other scoots over to a special waiting area with baby. Then, once the ride is over, the parents switch places. The other rides (without having to wait again) and the one who's already finished stays with baby.

Set Limits
I think a key element to enjoying a day at a theme park with baby is setting limits. When you and your spouse used to go to theme parks just as a couple, you probably raced around and tried to cram in as many attractions and shows as possible before calling it a day. You should accept the fact ahead of time that this kind of scenario won't be possible with baby in tow. Pick out the top 3 or 4 attractions that you absolutely must take in, and be prepared to live with those limits. You should also try to go on very mild rides that baby can enjoy with you, such as train or tram rides, leisurely boat rides, slow car rides, etc. Also make sure you take in a couple of shows and set aside time for pictures with the park's main characters, such as Mickey Mouse or Woody Woodpecker. Don't forget to take frequent breaks to just sit in the shade and enjoy some refreshments, too!

There's no need to wait until baby is 4 years old before planning your next trip to your favorite theme park. If you keep these important points in mind, you'll be able to enjoy a day out any time you want!

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