Posted by Claudia Grazioso on February 23, 2012
Call it one example of the parent/child divide: Kids love amusement parks but most parents would rather have the stomach flu and a herniated disk than have to venture through those primary-colored gates. But it’s not an experience you want to deny your child — unless what you save in park entrance fees and exorbitantly priced hot dogs you are willing to spend in therapy later on. And since most parents do make the trek to an amusement park at least once, here are some tips for staying safe, if not sane.
First, since most famous amusement parks are tucked away in either tropical or desert locales, bring lots of water (and remember to actually drink it). Forego some of the sugary sodas for plain, old-fashioned H2O; that way you can save some money and stay better hydrated. Also, if you have a child in a stroller, remember that most people are either scanning the skyline for arrows pointing them to the next ride or staring at an amusement park map. In other words, keep an eye out for adults who might trip over – or into – your stroller, especially if they’re carrying hot food.
It’s important to read and follow all safety guidelines on rides. They are there for a reason — to keep people from getting hurt. If your child is under the correct height or if you or your child has any of the listed health conditions, do not risk it. It’s far better to listen to the familiar “It’s not faaaaaiiiiiirrr” refrain than to be the family surrounded by paramedics at the park.
Some safety experts recommend taking a photo of your child with your camera right as you get to the park so you have a very recent photo to show park security in case you get separated. I’ve never done that one, but it sounds good to me. What I used to do was write my cell phone number with a Sharpie on my child’s forearm. Then I got obsessive and started adding the phone numbers of other relatives in case I lost my cell phone and soon my kids looked like a crazy person had been scribbling on them. Now I put all relevant numbers on a piece of paper, put it in their pockets and tell them to “Find a mommy” if they get separated from me. Some of my friends also tell their kids to stay put if they get lost – it’s easier for a mom to circle back than a child to track down a parent. Whatever approach you decide to take, go over it several times with your children. Of course, the goal is to not get separated from your child, so be sure your kids understand that they are not to wander off on their own for any reason.
Hit the amusement parks safely and you just might enjoy it. If not, there’s always bed and an icepack on your head at the end of the day!