I was Hesitant to Try This….

I have been going to theme and amusement parks as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved the roller coasters and the kiddie rides at Disneyland or Magic Mountain. Coney Island has its share of offerings as does Disney World.  Now, for some reason I have a sudden, strong craving for huge winding waterslides and other assorted places that utilize the liquid stuff to create a different kind of fun. Giant pools populate all the best resort hotels around the world, and many feature boat rides and smaller slides. Because of this, I always choose these places when I travel. You just look under the family section for hotels on the Internet. It doubles my pleasure to have a recreational area with water because there are more of these resorts than water parks. I have had to adjust my gear when I go away on business or to visit a friend or relative; I must include a waterproof pouch for the stuff I take when in the water. If there is a ride in the vicinity of my hotel or motel, I wear the right clothing and keep the pouch fastened around my waist. This way I don’t have to leave money, keys, or sunscreen in the car or on the ground nearby.

I found plenty of pouches online, so it was just a matter of size and color. I usually stick with neutrals like black or navy. Canvas is a popular material as it is sturdy and foolproof. The darker colors are less conspicuous and don’t draw attention to themselves in case a pickpocket is lurking nearby. My pouch has a good zipper; that was a top requirement. I wanted to test the item when it arrived and thought about visiting a neighbor’s pool. I was in a rush that day heading off to work so I elected to use the Hansgrohe faucet from Kitchen Faucet Depot in the kitchen. I pushed the lever for cold and stuck the pouch under the nozzle. It is a very nice one I noticed. Nonetheless, I adjusted the spray to “high” and let the canvas prove its worth. I wasn’t disappointed. There was no water inside even after a good soaking.

I was afraid of ruining the new pouch, but it said “waterproof” on the tag, big as life. I could take it with me to any pool or slide without concern. You aren’t likely to take valuables in the water, but no one wants their dollar bills to get wet. Waterproofing is more important to me than preventing theft. I am thrilled to say that I found just the right brand. It is well constructed, and while the fabric is thick, it is not coarse. It is an all around great choice. What a great gift for anyone, adult or child, who loves to swim with their gear.

What I Do When I Have Too Much Free Time

If you have been reading my blog, you know I am obsessed with roller coasters and theme parks, large and small, near and far. Today, however, I am taking a break from this type of amusement to do some practical work around the house. All kinds of chores have been piling up and my “to do” list is growing. It stares me in the face when I turn on my laptop and begs me to get started already. I have been putting it off way too long. I mean who likes to spend their day as a handyman? Well, maybe if you are a professional and need income. As for me, doing it myself is a way to save money and get going. Today is the day to start. I look at the list and frown.

I have too much free time, I guess, so I am procrastinating as usual. I daydream about where else I could be at this moment. There are plenty of better options. But I rouse myself and go get the tool box in the garage. Everything I need today is inside. I start with the leaky faucet in the kitchen and with a quick twist of the wrench, that one is checked off the list. Time to take a break. Ha! What’s next? The back room needs dusting—a no brainer. What takes more time is putting a new remote dimmer switch on the ceiling fan. Like most things, I started my research online to make sure it was possible and I found this page: https://www.ceilingfanchoice.com/can-dimmer-switches-used-ceiling-fans/. I have had it for some time and it works beautifully cooling off the den when it is hot. That room has a lot of exposure to sunlight due to a large sliding glass door open to the backyard. Therefore it gets warmer than other parts of the house. Why turn on the air conditioning for just the one area? It doesn’t make sense.

The fan comes with a wall control for various circulation speeds—there are a whopping six. Since the unit has a central light fixture, I thought it was time to use a remote when I am sitting at my desk or reclining on the sofa watching TV. Sometimes I like a bright room to read my Kindle while at others, I like a low-key ambiance, especially at night. It is more conducive to relaxing, but I hate getting up to adjust the fixture as the sun is setting. Hence the remote. It is an easily obtainable accessory you can buy online or in any supply depot. It runs on a battery that lasts forever, or so it says. We shall see. Meanwhile, here I am putting the device together and setting it up for quick operation.

I tackle a few more chores on my list and decide to make use of the new remote for the ceiling fan and retire to the den for a rest. You would think I was doing hard labor.

Trying Something New

Give me a coaster or theme park, and I am a happy person. Give me a hot dog and cotton candy and I am in heaven. I am a dutiful little boy in spirit and practice. I never the cut the line, yell while whirling in space, or cry if I am lost. Now that I am an adult, I enjoy the experience on a different level, but it is till amazing fun. It brings back memories and creates new ones. Go with kids for an extra kick. They will open your eyes to new things. For example, one of my little sidekicks found a huge trampoline. He showed me the ropes. Most kids are adept at this device because of all the bouncy houses they have frequented. We had so much fun, and, yes, I tried it myself. It was my first time so I was a trampoline virgin so to speak. I didn’t have many tricks up my sleeve, but I vowed to learn some in the near future so my next park visit would be more complete.

Between amusement park trips, I now go to Trampoline Choice to learn more skills and see if it packs the same kind of punch. It did. I now know how to do more than jump up and down like a flying fool. I can execute seat landings and knee tucks ono the simpler side, and straddles, pikes, half and full twists, flips and somersaults on the advanced level. What a hoot. Adults don’t know what they are missing by being mere bystanders when their kids go to play in these places. Get on board and have the time of your life. It is almost as good an exhilaration as riding the giant monster cyclone roller coaster. In fact it is almost as good as being on a more modest one.

I had no idea that a simple trampoline could be this much fun, even just by myself. I get so into it that people often stop and stare at my beaming face. I must look ridiculous, but at least very happy. A few take phones with their phones. Why I am not sure. I guess it is a rare occurrence to see a silly adult at play. I am not a professional by any means, but I do have some good moves. Maybe that’s it. It gives me a thrill to think that people think I am a gymnast when in fact I have never set foot on the gym floor whether in high school or college. Now I have found a new calling.

If you don’t want to do this in public, you can buy any size trampoline for your backyard. I am not referring to the mini tot size, but a real regulation version. You can go to town in the privacy of your own home. As for me, you will find me most weekends at the nearest trampoline place.

The Problem with Traveling

I love traveling and go any chance I can get, preferably if it includes a stopover at a theme park. Even a business trip is an opportunity to find something new in this vein. I don’t care if it is a small venue as long as it qualifies as an amusement park with exhibits and/or rides. Sometimes these regional places surprise you with their creativity and décor. One time I visited a park museum that contained circus and roller coaster memorabilia. The posters were the best part—huge hand paintings of the most famous acts and animals in history. It was comprehensive and the kind of thing I would be likely to do. The issue is finding good relics of the past. Theme parks have a long history, especially if you include the traveling circus in this category. They go back so far that they are the forerunners of the amusements parks of today, except maybe for the boardwalk at Coney Island.

Given this passion, I am often out of the house for days at a time. When I return, I find the interior air to be stale and musty. I keep the windows closed to ward off theft and turn off the air conditioning or heater, as the need may be, to avoid unnecessary expense. Thus, the automatic fan is not running that usually keeps air circulating. This problem is one of the few drawbacks of traveling. It isn’t serious enough to keep me at home. I decided on a simple solution: an air purifier or ozone cleaner. They both work well and cost about the same, according to https://www.nomoresmokesmell.net/ozone-vs-air-purification-pros-cons/. The operating principle is different.

There are some reported risks to the ozone version, but I don’t think they are enough to prevent the on-going manufacture of these units. They all freshen and sanitize the air using a different system. Allergens, pollutants and gases are gone. If one is more energy efficient than the other, I might go this route. We do what we can to be “green.” It comes down to a preference for a certain technology. I decided not to spend an inordinate amount of time on the research. Read a few product descriptions and reviews and place an order. Simple as that!

I decided on the Dyson because it is so cool looking and has a glass HEPA filter. It sits there monitoring the room like a sentry made of metal. It knows poor indoor quality by some mysterious process. I paid a bit more than I had intended just based on looks alone. I also know it will work well for the entire house. No more returning home after traveling and coking on the air. I now plan a trip, empty the refrigerator, lock the windows and doors and put the Dyson on auto mode. I suppose someday you will talk to these creatures with voice commands!

Mixing Work With Pleasure

Like every one of you, I work and I play. Sometimes I can do both at the same time. For example, I go on work trips from time to time and I like to add on a extra day for a “vacation.” My idea of the best vacation is visiting an amusement park. I love to discover new ones and my list is growing by leaps and bounds. Over the years, I am proud to say that I have been to the major theme parks across the country as well as many smaller local ones in rural areas. They all have something to offer at this point now that I have seen so much. They don’t all have to be Disneyland, Epcot or Magic Mountain. An old roller coaster will do as long as it is in prime working condition, of course. The old-style rides are still enjoyable and they have never been replaced by the new technologically advanced ones.

I love when I can find the time to visit a park after a work trip, be it a meeting or big conference. Each aspect of the trip is different, and I have a different work or leisure time face. I also have a different mindset. I think it is best to separate the two, so you enjoy each to the maximum and don’t get confused about what is what. It is possible to mix work with pleasure if you do it the right way. I don’t want to become distracted if I am giving a talk or listening to someone else. I want to be in the moment if it is about business. I want to be at my best.

One of my priorities when travelling for any reason is to keep myself and my business bag safe. I got the following tips from Business Bag Review: If I lose it or it is taken, it spoils the rest of the trip, including the special vacation part. It is important not to dampen the theme park visits with security problems. If you plan ahead, you can avoid airport issues (damaged bags, unlocked luggage, lost items). You must be sure to have a sturdy and durable bag with a secure lock, either with a key or a digital code. When flying, watch the porter place the tag and make sure it is for the correct flight and destination city. If you go by car, you can be more protective of your gear. My business bag contains important documents and personal items and it is vital that everything stay intact. I never leave the trunk of the car open when getting gas.

In case of theft or loss, I label my business bag carefully so that I may be contacted. I don’t carry a weapon, but to feel safe I put a flashlight in the bag. It is large and acts as a deterrent, kind of like the baton of a street cop. I have mace as well. Overall, I have done the best I can to remain safe and secure on a business trip.

Pre-Travel Ritual

People ask me, “What is it about theme and amusement parks that attracts you the most?” They know I am often on the road searching for new ones every chance I can get. It is easy to answer. Think of your own experience: the excitement of roller coasters, thrill rides, water parks, and the fun food and shows. Very park is unique. The rides at Magic Mountain are worlds apart from Disney World and they happen to be on opposite coasts. You feel like a kid again, scared (in a good way) from head to toe. You know the feeling, like when you watch a horror movie that is billed as “the most frightening film in years.” There is the crowd (fun people watching), the games, and all kinds of surprises. Where else do you get cotton candy and your palm read at the same time?

People also ask how I can stand to be away from home so often during the year. I think I hear a bit of envy in their voice. Fortunately, I have a flexible job.  “Don’t you come home to a messy house?” They know what happens when I am absent. People and their pets visit to get the mail or the newspaper and they take advantage of a full fridge, loaded with food and beverages. The floor is often covered in crumbs as a result. I have to get out my vacuum the day after my arrival. Sometimes I even clean at night. I don’t like to walk about in the detritus of people’s partying.

I used to clean before leaving so I would avoid the vacuuming chore after the fact. I soon discovered that my friends took advantage of my hospitality. I don’t mind that per se; I just wish they would wield the Dyson once in a while on their own. Oddly enough, when the old one broke, one of these “friends” gave me a Shark as a replacement. What nerve. I’d read at https://www.thevacuumchallenge.com/ that the Dyson was a much better model, so it was clear that my friend wasn’t as enlightened and just went for the cheapest option he could find. It was falling on my naïve shoulders. I am going to put a ban on using my empty home as a resort for friends to get away from it all. Is this unreasonable? After all, they drop in to check the locks, bring in the paper and the mail, and feed and walk the dog. What is a little light vacuuming in return for these favors?

When people are going in and out of your house, it deters thieves who might be casing the joint, so to speak. I guess my friends are doing me another kind of favor. I would be an unhappy traveler if I came home to a broken door or window, only to find my electronic equipment missing. Now that I think about it, I am going to encourage visitors when I am yelling my head off in “fear” while on the highest roller coaster in the world.

Disney Around the World

There are a few different theme park “chains” (if you want to call them that) like Six Flags, Universal, and Sea World, but nobody does a theme park like Disney. Their attention to detail makes them the leader in world-class entertainment, whether it is on screen or when you walk through the gates at one of their parks around the globe. From the rides to the characters to their resort hotels, Disney has that special magic people are not only willing to fork over tons of money for but they want to do it over and over again.

The first of the Disney parks to be built was Disney Land in California. This park has the distinction of being the only one of the parks bearing the Disney name that Walt Disney himself supervised the design and creation of. California Adventure was actually built in the parking lot of the original theme park, and there’s a Downtown Disney shopping and dining area. Disney Land also has three hotels to stay at, and according to the website there are 107 places to eat. That’s a lot of variety, and everyone is bound to find something they want to ride, eat, and see.

The park with the most attractions and resorts is Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. There’s four different parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios), two different water parks, Disney Springs restaurant and shopping area, a boardwalk, and 32 different Disney owned resorts. You can also include the ESPN Wide World of Sports on this list, as that’s owned by Disney as well. Another thing Disney World does on a grand scale is dining.According to their website, you have over 390 restaurants to choose from. That means you could eat every meal at a different place every day for a year and still have some left to go. That’s not counting the extra stuff for the Food and Wine festival, either!

Those are the two Disney parks in the US. The next park to be built was the Tokyo Disney Resort, in 1983. There are two theme parks there, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, four hotels, a shopping area, and nearly 50 places that serve food and beverages. DisneySea sounds aquarium-themed, but it actually has attractions closely related to those at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios.There is also Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992. It boasts 2 theme parks, seven hotels, a Disney Village shopping area, and over 50 different restaurants. The park hasn’t been without controversy, but it is still one of the most popular theme park destinations in Europe. Hong Kong Disneyland was Disney’s first resort in China, and it started welcoming guests in 2005 with three hotels and a theme park. The big selling point of Hong Kong Disneyland was to maintain the culture of the area while incorporating favorite characters and the popular rides that have been enjoyed elsewhere. Their website lists 24 eateries, many of which boast Chinese and vegetarian meals. The most recent theme park to be opened is in mainland China, the Shanghai Disney resort. In addition to its theme park, which opened in the summer of 2016, there are two hotels and nearly 50 eateries, some of which are names that all of us would recognize (Starbucks, anyone?)

The ability of the Disney brand to branch out all over the world – they also have cruise ships, a resort in Hawaii, and their own travel tours – speaks volumes about how they run their business, how the world sees them as a company, and how we’re all really just kids at heart.

Amusement Parks on the Cheap

There are ways to do an amusement park…and there are better ways to do it on the cheap. When I was younger and on a budget, I could barely pay for the admission ticket and a few snacks during the day. Now, I splurge with no restraint, especially if it is the first time in the park. You can spend a bundle at Disneyland or Disney World, not to mention Sea World or Marine Land. Look at the prices for Magic Mountain and it will take your breath away. What does a family do to cover all the costs? You either save up and do it right, or you don’t go.

I have some tips and tricks to make the money stretch. Today, I will cover the most basic. First and foremost, you must get a discount ticket for all day at the park, especially one that includes parking. Look on Groupon or similar sites. You may have to change the day you go, but it will be worth altering your schedule to get the savings.

Next, fill your backpack with snacks and drinks to save on major meals. Most parks will let you take one in as long as they can check the contents at the entry gate.  On hot days, I wish I had a cooler, but it is too bulky and large. You can buy small cold packs to cool your food and beverages. Beyond that, forget your bottled water and consume it as is. If you like hotdogs and fries, you will pine for them at the park, but that’s the way it goes if you are on the cheap. Meanwhile, use the same backpack for college to store items you need as the day wears into night so you don’t have to rent a locker. For some this means a change of tee, a light weight parka, or a change of socks. Most people don’t need to change their attire just because it is evening—unless it is cold and you prefer pants to daytime shorts. I do like to have a flashlight at night and a small collapsible umbrella just in case. No doubt you will know in the morning before you leave if it is likely to rain.

The idea is to be comfortable and well supplied with snacks for yourself or your accompanying family. It can be a long day waiting in line for rides. I always find it worth the time spent and on the way home, I proudly count the times I did the roller coaster. One final tip is to read the rules governing park behavior and stay with the bounds of the compartment of a ride. Warn your kids about what happens to stray arms and legs. The park is concerned about your safety, but you should, too. With proper supplies (stowed in your trusty backpack), and safety in mind you will have a most enjoyable time.

So Fun but Can’t Wait to Go Home

We all have our favorite pastimes. This blog is devoted to mine. I know there are others out there who love amusement and theme parks. I grew up with them, starting with an exciting, whirlwind trip to Disneyland—a special treat from my parents. I vowed to return soon, and I did over the years alone or with friends. Since then I have been seen on or in numerous thrill rides, water parks, roller coasters (like the glorious Magic Mountain), and side show exhibits meant to tantalize and scare you to death. I read about the old days at Coney Island or the Pike at Long Beach in California. Then there was the ubiquitous traveling circus and all the crazy weirdness it entailed like the bearded lady and sword swallowing man. Do you remember cotton candy, corn dogs, sodas made from syrup and fizzy water, mile high ice cream cones, and colored popcorn? Do you recall painted elephants, tight rope walkers, midget clowns, and prancing ponies with bareback riders? While times have changed and a lot of the elements have changed, a modern day park is wonderful fun. I drive for hours to get to a favorite venue. I stay in a hotel so I can revel for two days on the grounds. County fairs are eligible for my attention as are rodeos and western towns. No, they are not all alike!

It was very hot on a recent trip to a combination theme park and zoo and I sweated like one of the pigs on display. It was great but I couldn’t wait to get to my room and take a cold shower before changing clothes (and going back). I was grubby and grimy to say the least. But the hotel facilities weren’t the best and certainly not up to speed in comparison to my huge tiled shower at home. It has an adjustable showerhead that allows for various degrees of intensity. The temperature can be changed with a quick digital apparatus. It is perfect and has no rival. To top it all off, I have installed the best water filter for home that I could find, so the water is gentle on my skin and hair. It is the ultimate spa experience complete with soft, terry towels.

I recommend you try any kind of filtering system. They are quite economical and don’t need much maintenance or repair. You can enjoy tap water and save on costly plastic bottles. There are lots of different types of filters from carbon to reverse osmosis membranes. I like the hybrid softener and filter that has an injectable solution that lasts for six months. It is easy to refill so you get the same amount of treated water every time. If you haven ‘t indulged, be sure to consider treating yourself soon as the liquid of life that tastes and feels good can make a difference in your life.

I Love Roller Coasters

My favorite ride at any amusement park is the roller coasters. I don’t care how fast they go, whether they loop or go backward, if I’m sitting in the first or last car or if I’m somewhere in the middle. I love the rush of climbing up that first hill, hearing that clack of the chain and feeling the excitement and anticipation of what is to come.

The first roller coaster I ever went on was Space Mountain at Disney World. I was in the third grade. My dad wanted to go on it but nobody else in the family would go with him. I don’t think I really understood what it was at the time; all I heard was that he wanted to go on a ride with someone. To hear my dad tell it, I screamed for the whole ride. All I remember is being terrified, so that sounds about right. I think if I had been on a coaster before and had more of an idea what to expect, being in the dark like that wouldn’t have seemed so scary. However, terrifying as it was, the first thing I did after the ride was over was ask my dad if we could go again. The way I remember it, he was a little green-looking by then and said no.

Since then, I’ve ridden the coasters at every park I’ve been to. Some people have maps where they mark every ballpark they’ve been to – I have one with pins for every coaster I’ve been on. I’ve had some that I’ve been surprised that I enjoyed (the Wild Mouse at Hershey Park comes to mind), some that have just been awesome even from watching them on the line like American Thunder in St. Louis, and some that were just disappointing (like the old Mean Streak at Cedar Point). If I had to pick a favorite, which is hard because there have been so many great ones, I would say the Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California; you essentially get to ride it twice!

I’ve been to a bunch of parks and ridden a lot of coasters. Here is my wish list for what I want to ride next, in both the US and around the world: the UK’s loopy Smiler, the new (and completely impossible looking) Fury 325 in North Carolina, the Takabisha in Japan, the Colossos wooden coaster in Germany, Formula Rossa in the UAE, and the T Express in South Korea. Every time I buy a lottery ticket, or put money into my vacation fund, it is to get these coasters off my “want to ride” list and onto my “have ridden” list!

What about you? What’s on your “want to ride” list? What is your favorite coaster? Let me know and maybe I will have another ride to add to my ever-growing list!

California Theme Parks

In addition to having some of the best weather, awesome beaches, and coolest vibes of all the 50 states, California also has a lot of theme parks for those of you who are adventure-inclined. I’m going to go over some of the biggest and best that California has to offer, but know there are smaller parks and fair types as well.

I can’t have a list about theme parks in California without mentioning Knott’s Berry Farm. It owns the title of America’s 1st Theme Park, but they’ve gone a great job of keeping it up. It has some amazing, modern thrill rides (the recent refurbishment of GhostRider comes to mind) and lots of Camp Snoopy themed fun for the young ones. There’s even a water park. Not bad for a place that started as a way to entertain guests while they were waiting for a table at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant on a berry farm!

Then there’s Disneyland, and I include California Adventurein with that. The two parks have distinct personalities. Disneyland is more along the lines of what you would expect from a family-friendly theme park, and California Adventure is all the great stuff an amusement park should be. Also, if you’ve been to the park in Florida, don’t worry, you’ll have a completely different experience here. There are some rides that are the same (or at least similar) but all kinds of things are done differently. Disney Land was first, after all.

Another place that is increasing in popularity is LEGOLAND (also with a location in FL) and it’s just fun. It’s not a thrill-seeker’s paradise, but if you are a fan of LEGO or you have kids, this is a great place to go. There is a main park with the majority of the rides, a water park, and then an aquarium. There’s also a resort hotel, with several rooms themed on popular LEGO sets. And before you ask – everything there is awesome.

Universal Studios also has a presence in both Orlando and Hollywood. There are plenty of theme rides and live shows. However, their world-famous studio tour is probably the best thing you can possibly do there and it is worth the price of admission. You get to see historic sets and be part of the action with some amazing special effects. You are on one of the busiest and active lots for tv and film ever made. How cool is that? And it’s not an experience you get anywhere else.

Six Flags has two parks in California – one near San Francisco and one by Los Angeles. The Six Flags Magic Mountain has the most roller coasters anywhere in the world, so if you’re a big fan of those types of rides, this is your Mecca. It also might be familiar as the “Walley World” seen in “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. Both parks also have water parks but those require separate admission.

This should get you started on the great parks California has to offer. Let me know what your favorite is in the comments!

Planning Tips for Disney

It may be known as the happiest place on earth, but having a good experience at a Disney theme part can require a lot of work! Here are my best tips to make sure that you get the most out of your magical experience:

–Stay on property if you can. Sure, there are hotels nearby that are cheaper, but there are definite perks to accommodations at one of their resorts. Free shuttle service back and forth from the airport, free transportation to the different parks, extended hours at the parks, and more. I like that you can make reservations for restaurants earlier than other people planning to visit at the same time, and you can also get your fastpass picks sooner, too. Another great thing about staying at a Disney resort? The amazing decor you find at their various themed properties!

–Make your reservations as soon as possible. It’s harder to get in to some Disney park restaurants than it is to score a seat at a Michelin-star fine dining establishment! Read reviews of the restaurants available and find out what the lead time is to make a reservation there. Be sure to be on the phone or online (and when I say be ready, I mean when that clock hits the right time, not later that day. Also be aware of the time difference) when that time comes so you can score seats at the tables you covet! The same thing goes for fastpass selections. Know what goes quickly and snatch them up first.Having said that, if you miss out on something you want, keep checking. You never know when someone is going to cancel their trip or make a change in their reservation, and you can slip right in and snatch it up.

–Do as much of the planning as you can before you go. I have found that the more time I spend prior to a trip making arrangements and working out logistics, the more fun I have on the actual trip. Yes it is a pain to reserve a table 180 days out from your trip. But then the day of that reservation, you’re not wandering around a crowded park with a couple of cranky, hot, and hungry children trying to figure out what to eat. And you’re also not spending your entire trip on the line for one ride, saving you time at the park. If you are going to need things like food or staples like baby care items, remember that places can, and will, deliver to your room. Even Amazon. Call your hotel for details.

–Once you get there: remind yourself not to try to do everything in one day. It is impossible. It won’t be enjoyable, either. Plan your day by things you are absolutely dying to see or ride, grouping them together by location to maximize fun and minimize crisscrossing the park. Then, as you have time, you can add other things to your list without missing out on the big-ticket stuff.

–Be sure to eat, hydrate, and take breaks! You can easily burn yourself or your kids out while you’re trying to cram fun into every day. Sitting down every once in a while, drinking some water, or having a snack might seem like a waste of time but it really isn’t. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to enjoy all aspects of your trip, and it will improve everyone’s’ moods. Disney can be an overwhelming place, it’s ok to go back to the hotel and swim in the pool or take a nap for a couple of hours.

–Enjoy it! Your trip will go by in the blink of an eye. Don’t be so worried about getting to the next ride or what you’re missing while you’re on line for a character meet and greet. Focus on where you are and what you’re experiencing. Don’t let all the crowds or the heat get you too riled up. You are on vacation after all.

If this all seems overwhelming to you, don’t fret. And especially don’t use that as an excuse not to go. There are plenty of websites and books on how to plan your trip. There are also travel agents who live and breathe the House of Mouse and will make all the arrangements for you.

Amusement Parks Aren’t Just for Kids

There is this weird misconception that amusement parks are for kids, and that’s just not true. They aren’t making roller coasters go faster, climb higher, or defy gravity for children. No, that stuff is just for adults! Of course, the parks want to cater to the widest group possible, so there will be a mixture of family friendly, kid appropriate, and thrill seeker rides at nearly every theme park worth going to. That is reason enough to spend some time there without small people every once in a while.

The excitement you see on the faces of children at an amusement park is a great thing to see. As a parent, it doesn’t get much better than your kid meeting their favorite character in person or enjoying their first real ride on a roller coaster. But parents also know that for every photo album worthy moment, there are weather or exhaustion induced tantrums, countless bathroom runs, tons of money wasted on snacks or meals they barely eat, and all the merchandise you end up collecting. I haven’t even mentioned the whining: about the crowds, the waits, the hunger, the heat, and every other little thing they can think of that you, of course, have absolutely zero control over. Then there is the special torture that is children walking all day long. It doesn’t matter what carrot you dangle in front of them, eventually they turn into turtles and do everything. So. Slowly. Strollers only help so much, because half the time, you aren’t allowed to bring them into the ride lines, the kids insist on pushing the stroller around the park – or, more realistically, crashing the stroller into everyone and everything in their path.

Kids can kind of cramp your style at an amusement park. They might be too short for the best rides, or just not have any interest in them. Or maybe you end up spending lots of time in lines to meet other grown ups who play pretend all day and wear costumes instead of doing the stuff you actually want to do. And I’ve already mentioned the whining, haven’t I? Adults complain but nobody looks at you twice when you tell your partner to knock it off. So, I say that it’s fine to ditch the kids every once in a while and give yourself the opportunity to do the things you really want to the way you really want to.

Call a sitter or drop the kids off at a relative’s house and enjoy an amusement park as an adult. Ride all the rides with the tallest height requirements. Stand in a line and bask in the glow of not having to leave to take a bathroom break before you get to the front. Go there early and stay until close. Have a sit-down meal that doesn’t involve mystery meat, powdered cheese, or chicken fingers.

In other words, be a kid yourself with the benefits of all the wisdom, power, and financial ability of a grownup.