There’s no getting away from the fact that visiting a theme park is not the cheapest way to spend a day.
But…. There’s also no getting away from the fact that a theme park is in a league of it’s own for a fun day out and it’s pretty much a given that anyone with children will be visiting one at some point. So if you are going make sure you follow my top tips to make sure that you have a great day while spending as little as possible.
Before you go
- Make sure that the theme park you’re planning on visiting is suitable for the ages of your children – some parks are geared towards older children and teenagers whereas places like Legoland are probably more suitable for the younger ones. There’s nothing worse than getting to a park and finding out that the majority of the rides are unsuitable for your children and having to tell them all day that they’re too little to go on things. Equally, older children will only be bored in parks where the rides are not hair raising enough.
- Make sure you are getting the best possible price. Google the name of the theme park along with the words special offers and again with the name and the word vouchers so you can see if there’s any offers around. For example at the moment Little Dish meals are offering a free child ticket when you buy an adults ticket and Frijj are offering buy one get one free to Thorpe Park. Look into using any nectar points or Tesco club card points you have as well as you can often exchange them for tickets. If the theme parks are local-ish to you, look in the local papers or in the copy of Primary Times that the kids often bring home in their book bag. If you can’t find any offers around then look at the theme park’s own website to see if they have off peak days that you can go on to save a little bit and also if they offer a cheaper price if you book online or in advance.
- Take a picnic but bear in mind that you’ll probably be carrying it around for a while so don’t take too much and if I were you, I’d take in in a lightweight bag that will fold up when it’s empty or carrier bags that you can bin when you’re done. That way after, lunch you don’t have anything to carry. If there are lockers to hire at the park we leave the picnic in one (usually a £1) until lunchtime.
- Pack some sweets or some snacky treats in your handbag that only you know about so later on in the afternoon when people are getting hungry for snacks you can whip them out and avoid spending a fortune at one of the food stands who inevitably charge a lot!
- We never wear jeans as they take so much longer to dry if you’re going on the water rides. Also look at the park website as some parks have water areas – Flamingo Land has a huge area where parents in the know take swimsuits whereas others have to either keep the kids out of the water or just accept that they’re going to be soaking for the rest of the day.
When you get there
- On a nice day there’s no point arriving dead on opening time as you’ll end up queueing while they get people in – you either need to be there early or leave it until twenty minutes or so after the park has opened.
- The first thing I do when we get to a theme park is to make sure that the kids know exactly where we will meet or what to do if they get lost. I also make sure that they have a piece of paper with my name and mobile number in their pockets just in case we do get separated.
- If there’s a particular ride that everyone wants to go on we go on that first of all so it’s out of the way no matter what the queue time is. We made the mistake of leaving the big ride till last before and spent an hour in the queue. We also make sure that we try and plan our day a little so we don’t miss anything and we don’t do the big rides close together where possible or you feel like you’re going from one queue to the next.
- We find it good value to buy the re-fillable drinks cups which usually cost around £5-£6 and you can refill them for free all day – we buy one between us and just get it refilled but this means we dont have to carry drinks around with us and we don’t have to spend a fortune on drinks while we’re there. Not all parks have them though so check if you’re not planning on taking drinks.
Time to go home
- Leave half an hour (or earlier) before the park closes to avoid all of the traffic.
Can you add any tips for us?