Our daughter began her summer break from private school earlier this year than the local public schools. You know what this meant. Road trip! Taking full advantage of being set free earlier than others, we headed to Six Flags for the first time. Read: we were amusement park virgins and didn't want to wait in 45-minute lines for 10-second rides in the blazing hot summer sun.
How can you ensure that an amusement park trip doesn't become less than amusing. I tapped Jennifer McGrath, communications manager at Six Flags New England, on a few pro tips for getting through a theme park without a horror show (unless you have tickets to the one at noon and 3pm).
Check out the park ahead of time. “Make an agenda and plan out your day, so that when you get there you're ready to go and can have as much fun as possible,” she suggests. “Go online to check out height requirements and thrill level of the rides." Print out a park map and be strategic, as you weave your way through rides, shops, cafes and attractions. That way you won't get there and be pulled in 400 different directions.
Come prepared. Although they’re usually available at the shops, it’s always more cost-effective and more on-the-spot to bring your own water bottles (check on the park's website to see restrictions on what you can bring in terms of food), sunscreen, baseball caps and sunglasses so that you aren’t scrambling last second. If there's a water park element, pack suits and towels.
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Have a meeting place. When you first walk into the park, designate a place for meeting up in case you get separated. McGrath also suggests providing your contact information in the pocket of your children. “Put a parent’s or chaperone’s name and cell number on an index card,” she continues. “Then if you do get separated, there's a plan of action. You can reunite and have that great day continue.” She also suggests putting any special needs or allergies on the card.
Take breaks. Yes, you paid a bunch to get in. Yes, you want to get the most out of your day. But you need to chill. “We absolutely encourage breaks. If you’re coming with little ones or even teens, they’re necessary,” says McGrath. She suggests stepping into an air conditioned shop periodically, even if it’s just for a minute. “Everyone in the family unit knows their limitations and comfortable level in terms of what they can and cannot do. We love as a theme park when the family respects this.”
Hydrate. The bathroom lines can be long, but there's nothing you want less than to get overheated or dehydrated. “One thing with heat dehydration is that you don’t realize it until it's too late, so take those water breaks,” she continues. “If you over extend yourself, you don’t want to spend your time at Six Flags at first aid.”
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