Plan ahead. Get this year’s season passes at the end of last season (sorry, you’re too late). Usually it only costs a few dollars more than a daily pass AND includes free parking at any park (this is my favorite part…ask my husband…it seems to be my favorite detail to share with people. Repeatedly.)
Know your kid. Make sure your they won’t freak out/meltdown/vomit on the rides that you just paid for. Last year was the first year we got season passes. My friend and I took our then three year olds for the first time with high hopes that this would be a great day in the sun for us as the kids gleefully rode rides, enjoyed every minute that we spent with them, and left in grateful appreciation of the wonderful day we had just provided for them. If the car ride of arguing over who looked at whom first wasn’t enough of a sign, the first ride was. They skipped through the gates (or we wrangled them) and they decided they wanted to go on the Krazy Kars ride (kids only), which we thought would be a great start of our day of bliss. Until they got on and we saw the first whip around the corner. Oh shit. We both froze…not because we feared for our children’s safety, but because we feared for our sanity. If this didn’t go well…if this was too fast and scared them, the whole day was ruined. We held our breath until we saw them look at each other and, either about to cry out laugh, they thankfully started belly-laughing and screaming gleefully. Thank…fucking…god…. We then knew they liked rides…and all things fast.
Admit your age. If you’re anything like me, the rides that used to be thrilling and awesome are now horrific, terrifying death traps that make you anxious just thinking about the muscle aches that will result from getting tossed around in the harness (which hopefully will hold you in). Hey, did I mention that you can get free parking with a season pass?
Bring an open mind. You will encounter (and likely want to punch, trip, or otherwise hurt) people from every background and every level of respect and manners and they ram into your heels with their stroller.
Check the events schedule for that day. Don’t do this in anticipation of an enjoyable event while you’re there; do it to protect your sanity. We learned this the hard way last weekend. Don’t go the day of a kids’ cheerleading competition unless you can handle copious amounts of pep and glitter exuded from 10 year olds and 40 year old moms alike. It was more than I’ll ever be comfortable around.
Invest (seriously…it’s an investment…thankfully you parked for free) in a refillable bottle- Here’s our little secret: fill it with ½ Power Aid and ½ water (who the hell could hydrate with soda for the whole day?) Not every food stand has Power Aid, so check the signs before you commit to waiting an eternity in a line while your spouse enjoys watching your child laugh through continuous cycles on a ride. You can’t bring in your own drinks, so unless you want to spend $3/bottle of water or can survive a hot day in the sun with little to no hydration, this will make the inevitable a little less painful.
Bring lunch and eat in the parking lot…where you have parked for free (hopefully). Whatever your reasoning (you’re cheap and don’t want to spend $14 on a slice of pizza, you prefer real food over amusement park food, you’d rather run to a ride than to the bathroom, or you’d rather spend the two hours you’d wait in line with your family instead) this a smart move.