Looking for a way to end your summer with a bang? Nothing screams SUMMER more than a visit to an amusement park!
I love amusement parks. There’s the thrill of riding the huge and terrifying roller coasters. And the way my stomach drops when I step off a revolving ride. I love people-watching and walking around the park, enjoying the landscape, the sun and when it’s too damn hot, the shade. I love all of the greasy (or not so greasy) food! Where else can you get a funnel cake to go with your barbecue sandwich? Or feel guilt-free when consuming a huge amount of popcorn?
I know what you’re thinking — amusement parks are for families with small kids or teenagers on a band or swim team trip. Alas, this does not have to be the case. Read on my sassy friends…
No matter if you are going solo or with a gaggle of friends, amusement parks have something for everyone. Nowadays, many parks not only boast a collection of thrill-filled rides, but they also brag about the different dining or shopping options throughout the park. The food ranges from deep fried carnival foods to fancy theme-based cuisine. At most parks, the shopping runs from theme-park based souvenirs to unusual gifts and trinkets. One of my favorite things to buy at the different amusement parks I visit is a cool and unique pair of sunglasses. Not because my old pair flew off my face and into a huge man made lake whilst I was screaming my face off on that first big roller coaster drop, but because I LOVE me some sun glasses.
Now you’re feeling a bit intrigued and looking for a day of “adult-y” thrills. Since it has been years (literally YEARS) since your last visit to an amusement park, what do you need to know? Check out the tips below to make sure that your trip is a trip to remember.
Be an Early-Bird
Most people are not in a rush in the mornings on a day without work. The majority of park-goers tend to show-up around lunch to mid-afternoon. Don’t let the crowd at the gates startle you! The line of people waiting to enter is nothing compared to the size of the park. Spend your time in line downloading the park’s app, as they most likely have one, and plot your course through the park. Want to avoid the teenagers? The morning crowd tends to include mostly families, whereas young adults and teenagers often show up later in the day.
Preferred Parking is Not Always Preferred
When going to a park, always assume you will have to pay to park and that there will be a short hike from your car to the park gates. Get those steps in, girl! (Wear your Fitbit and call the day a workout — ha!) As always, the earlier you arrive, the better the spot (kind of reminds me of finding a spot at Target on Black Friday). Years ago, most parks realized that they could close the best parking spots and call them Preferred Parking AND charge an extra parking fee. If you have never been to the park before, it is a crapshoot as to whether or not the extra charge is worth it.
Remember, getting there early will ensure a better parking spot, for free! Not to mention the ride on the parking trolley will bring back all kinds of childhood memories and that excited butterfly in your stomach. You’re ALMOST there!
Hit the Hot Spots First!
After reading this fabulous article (ahem), you have now chosen to visit a park, downloaded the app and have been researching the different rides at the park. You have chosen three or four rides that you MUST ride before you leave. Hit those rides first! If there is a ride you’re looking forward to the most, then there’s a really good chance that it’s everyone’s favorite. As soon as you get to the park, make a beeline for the most popular ride — don’t get distracted by all of the food aromas or shiny objects in the shops. Prepare yourself by checking out the map to get a general idea of the ride location. If you are lucky, you will be able to ride that sought-after ride over and over, before the crowds build and the lines get too long.
Do You Own a Fanny Pack?
Oh my god, did I really just ask that?!?! For a day at an amusement park, what do you really need to bring? The best solution is to only bring what you can fit in your pockets. If you absolutely need more storage space, the easiest option is to wear a really small cross-body purse or (gulp) if you must — a fanny pack. Backpacks allow the most storage, but are bulky, and sweaty, and you always risk the chance of leaving it somewhere. At each ride, you will be asked to leave your backpack in a designated area, and frankly, it’s a hassle. Leave the backpack to the teenagers, grab your cross body purse and go! No matter what, leave the hair supplies and changes of clothes at home, less is more!
NOTE: make sure you secure your sunglasses and cell phone in a pocket before the ride starts. (And leave your phone in your pocket until you’ve exited the ride.) You DO NOT want to be that person who drops their cell phone onto the tracks, causing the ride to shut down while maintenance climbs down to pick it up.
What’s a Diet?
What is more wonderful than visiting a place full of delicious junk food as far as the eyes can see? If you have a dietary restriction or really do want to watch your intake and food is a concern, check out the eatery menus beforehand as there will probably be an option to fit your needs. Most places around the park will serve the same assortment of foods, but there is usually a collection of dining options in each section of the park reflecting that section’s theme. Find yourself in an a old west section, then look for a dining area selling turkey legs and barbecue. Be sure to check the map ahead of time to know where your wanted meal is served so you are not searching and starving at the same time.
Find a Watering Hole
If you are planning to visit during the summer, this may be the most important hint! Most parks have public water fountains located throughout the park. Many parks will also let you bring in bottles of water or at least an empty water bottle to fill up at the water fountains. If water fountains are not your thing, most food/drink places offer a small cup of cold water, free of charge. Remember to keep hydrated!
Adult Beverages? At an Amusement Park?
Fear not, most parks nowadays offer beer and wine options throughout the park. You can grab a cold beer or a wee bottle of wine as you make your way to the next thrill ride. Or maybe save the beverages for dinner, after you’ve hit all the major roller coasters. Some parks even offer wine tastings for park goers who are looking for a few “pinkies up” sips from local wineries.
There are so many things to look forward to when visiting an amusement park. I hope you are now inspired to relive some childhood memories and conquer that coaster! Play hooky from work, grab some friends, relax and be silly together! Don’t forget to take pictures!