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SINGAPORE: Kids just adore amusement parks – the rollercoaster rides, electric atmosphere, carnival food and shows galore. No wonder it’s a lot of fun for the young ones.
For parents, though, heading to a theme park can get quite stressful. There are the huge crowds to deal with, scorching heat or pouring rain, and long queues at each of the rides and attractions. And here’s hoping junior holds your hand tightly and doesn’t run loose!
Still, there are plenty of ways for everyone to have a good time. We’ve put together a list of theme park hacks that’ll make your visit a smooth one.
1. BOOK EARLY ONLINE
Scout around for the best ticket prices, credit card and group discounts. Many amusement and theme parks have family packages, where you get a special rate, especially if you take advantage of their early bird special.
2. CONSIDER AN ANNUAL PASS
Mum-of-three Anna Low swears by using annual passes. “When you’ve got young kids, you never know when your outing will be cut short because of a temper tantrum, someone feeling unwell, or bad weather. Having an annual pass allows you to pop in and out as often as you like. It’s usually far more value for money.”
For instance, season (half yearly) passes at Universal Studios Singapore cost S$98 per adult, while a day pass costs S$76 – you only need to go twice to make the season pass worth the money.
3. PLAN FOR THE RIGHT DAY
Going out with your brood is always much easier when it isn’t too crowded. If possible, go on a weekday instead of a weekend, or during the school term instead of the school holidays. You’ll have a much better experience when there’s a smaller chance of you losing junior in the crowd, and when the queues are shorter.
4. CONSIDER AN EXPRESS PASS
Most, if not all, theme parks give you the option to purchase an express pass, on top of the ticket price. Pay a little more money and you’ll get to jump ahead of everybody else in the queue, so you don’t rack up long hours waiting to get on your favourite rides. Choose this option, especially if you’re in an overseas theme park, and only have one day to spend there, or if you want to go on the popular rides more than once.
5. SCHEDULE YOUR DAY
Look out for show schedules on the park’s website or brochure, so you can make the best use of your time by working your schedule around those must-watch shows.
Also, find out what additional perks the park has to offer. Joyce Wong, mum to four-year-old Cordelia, recently took her family to Tokyo Disneyland. “They have a fast pass system there, so you can get a fast pass ticket from a particular ride that gives you a designated time for the ride. You can come back to it later. In the meantime, you make the best use of your time by going for other shows and rides,” she said.
6. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
If you’re going to a cooler climate, layer up so you can remove the layers as the sun comes up. In warm climates like Singapore, note that it can get very warm, especially when you’re standing in line. So, dress in light, cool fabrics.
If there’s a chance you may get wet on the rides, it may even be a good idea to dress in quick dry fabrics – you’ll be way more comfortable than if you were stranded in damp denims.
7. APPLY SUNSCREEN
If the sun’s out, make sure you prep your peewees. Let them wear caps, sunglasses and don’t forget sunscreen. Said Low: “My youngest son simply refuses to wear caps, so he even had a sunburn on his scalp once. I’ve since learned that you should even apply sunscreen on their scalps!”
8. DON’T FORGET THE LOO
You don’t want to get stuck in a line for 20 minutes, only to have your munchkin say that he needs a wee. Using your park map, mark out where the bathrooms are, and make sure you take regular bathroom breaks.
9. DRINK UP!
It’s easy to get caught up in all the fun and adrenaline, but make sure you keep yourselves and your brood hydrated to prevent heat stroke. Some parks have water coolers. Still, it’s a good idea to bring along your own water bottles so you can avoid paying premium tourist prices for that bottle of mineral water.
10. TAKE A PHOTO AT THE ENTRANCE
A parent’s greatest nightmare is losing their child in a crowd of people. Since theme parks are crowded places, you’ll need to take precautions. One of the best tips is to take a clear photo of your child when you first enter the park.
Besides this being a nice (and free!) way to mark your trip, you’ll have a current photo of what each child looks like and what he or she is wearing at the park. In case they goes missing, you’ll be able to show the picture to the park staff who are helping you in the search.
11. MARK YOUR CHILD
You can also keep track of your little ones by writing your phone number with a pen onto his arm or his palm, or even on a piece of paper and then slipping it into his sock or pocket. Instruct him to let a park staff member know if he goes missing, and where to find the phone number to call you.
12. BRING A POWER BANK
You know that you’ll be taking tons of photos and videos with your mobile phone, so be prepared to watch your battery get drained. To avoid missing out on capturing those memories, bring along a charged power bank or two. We bet your family members will thank you for coming prepared.
13. USE ZIP LOCK BAGS
Are you a fan of log flume rides? There are plenty of rides and opportunities in theme parks for you to get wet, and while they are lots of fun, don’t forget to protect your phones and other devices from getting soaked. Bring mini Zip Lock bags to prevent your phone from “drowning”. The bags are also great for stashing a few extra diapers or dry clothes for your kewpie to change into at the end of the day.
14. BRING PONCHOS FOR EVERYONE
Rainy weather can be a huge downer when you’re at an amusement park, but chances are, the rides may still go on if the lightning warning doesn’t come on. In such cases, you’ll want to have ponchos on hand for everyone. Ponchos are light and portable compared to umbrellas, and they do a better job at keeping you dry.
15. GO AGAINST THE GRAIN
Lots of park goers and tour groups have a set path they want to follow in the theme park. Do yourselves a favour and go in the opposite direction of wherever you see the crowds heading. You’ll be beating the crowds and the queues.
16. PREP GAMES AND SNACKS
Imagine standing in line for 20 minutes or more for your favourite rides, with a toddler in tow. Sounds like a nightmare? Well, prep yourself with snacks, and small toys that you can bust out to keep junior entertained and happy. You can even play fun little games like “I spy”!
This article first appeared in Smart Parents.