universal studios family vacation

The kids are bursting at the seams with excitement. Finally, the family trip that they’ve been waiting years for is finally happening this summer. After much deliberation, the final decision for summer vacation this year is to take on one of the many crowded and excitement filled theme parks that dot the globe. No matter if you are planning a visit to Canada’s Wonderful outside of Toronto or Disneyland in Southern California, even your local fair ground, we have put together some tips to get you through the madness. Ways to beat the crowds, save a little money and have a fantastic family experience.

1 – Get online before you depart

One way to save money on the high entry ticket cost is to book ahead of time. Most amusement parks and attractions offer a variety of deals for reduced tickets. Waiting until you get on site will have you paying full price, ouch, and standing in a long line just to gain entry. Not a great way to start the day. So be savvy. Get online now and search for a variety of deals. If you happen to know someone who resides close to the park of your choice, chances are the attraction offers a very good locals discount. Get your friend or family member to purchase the tickets ahead of time for a great price.

2 – Upgrade options

Some parks offer upgrade options if you plan to return for multiple days. Calling customer service or asking at a ticket booth agent will unleash this information. Most parks will apply the cost of a single day ticket when upgrading to a multiday pass.

3 – Early bird gets the worm

At any major attraction, rising with the sun is the name of game. Arriving early onsite is your best bet to avoid lengthy lines. So get a good night of rest and be at the gates when they open. If you are staying close by, a nap in the afternoon is a great way to beat the midday crowds, returning later when everyone else is heading home exhausted.

4 – Designate a meeting spot

Once you get inside the park, gather your group together and decide on one designated meeting spot. It’s possible that you will get separated from your group at one time or another during the day. Having one easy to find location with a visual landmark makes for gathering everyone together faster at the end of day.

5 – Finding your kids

Hopefully you will not have to worry about missing children however, being smart does not hurt. Before you get onsite write your name and number on a tag inside your children’s clothing or pin a piece of paper inside their shirt with your contact information. This way, if they do wander and require assistance someone can easily and efficiently contact you to be reunited.

6 – Best time for rides

Believe it or not, the best time for rides is in the evening when live entertainment and firework shows are busy captivating the crowds. Most attraction parks offer a variety of evening entertainment. This is typically when everyone will flock to the parade route or stage, freeing up space to ride away without a long line.

7 – Pack full of supplies

If the price of entry tickets has not broken the bank, chances are all the onsite costs will add up quickly. In order to not use all your savings on this amazing family experience, be sure to come well equipped. Plan on carrying a lightweight backpack loaded with everything you might need in a day. Sunscreen and hats should be on the top of the list plus other family age appropriate needs like diapers and wipes. Typically bringing your own food is a no no so leave the snacks and water at the hotel.

8 – Weather protection

Even if the day started out sunny and warm there is always a chance of inclement weather. Pack your own poncho or light rainproof jacket to ensure that you are fully prepared for any down pour that may occur. This also saves you from having to waste money on a disposable poncho with the park logo, something you are sure to never wear again.

9 – Water protection

The last thing you need at the amusement park is for your phone to get soaked while enjoying a thrilling water ride. Be sure to pack your handheld device in a Ziploc bag in your pocket before hitting the white water rafting rides. This will ensure you can still communicate once the ride is done.

10 – Finding your car

In the maze of parking that accompanies any and every major attraction it can be near impossible to find your car at the end of a long day. Upon arrival, take a few snapshots of your parking spot and location sign. This way you won’t have to waste time wandering in and out of stalls at the end of the day.

happy family vacation by pool

Created by Lynn May Gosselin