Welcome, World Travelers! Here’s 3 Things to Avoid at Theme Parks
by James Coulter
Recently, I visited LEGOLAND Florida with some family from up north. Our visit was okay, to say the least. I certainly enjoyed the quality time with my relatives. However, there were some hiccups during our stay that somewhat hampered the overall experience for me.
For this column, I want to review my faux pas during my trip and allow you all to learn from them so you don’t make the same mistakes I made. Here are three things to avoid when visiting a theme park:
#1: Getting Dehydrated
Do: Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and sports drinks.
Don’t: Consume only soft drinks, juices, and other sugary drinks.
On the day of our LEGOLAND trip, the temperature was a scorching 100 degrees, and the hot pavement did not improve conditions. While I did bring along a drink container, it was filled with lemonade which, while tasty, did more to increase my thirst than quench it.
By the middle of the day, after visiting only three attractions, I felt so hot, muggy, and dehydrated from the sweltering summer heat that I was tempted to ask to leave the park early. By the end of our trip, my energy was drained, and I left with an unbearable migraine that required a two-hour nap and several aspirins to mitigate.
During a theme park visit—especially on a hot summer day in Florida!—it’s imperative to remain hydrated. Bring a reusable water bottle or drink container and consume plenty of water. At the very least, have a sports drink to help replace electrolytes.
Do not drink only soft drinks, fruit juices, tea, lemonade, or other sugary drinks. Those drinks contain mostly sugar and salt that will only make you thirstier, especially on a hot day. Caffeinated beverages are the worse, as caffeine is a diuretic that absorbs more water from your body. Not to mention that soda and other drinks cost a lot of money–especially with current inflation. (Thanks, Biden!) So drink plenty of water and sports drinks instead.
#2: Go Unprepared
Do: Try to plan your visit ahead of time by deciding which rides and attractions you want to go on.
Don’t: Try to wing it, especially in a group.
As someone who often visits theme parks by himself, I usually wing my trips as the only people I need to satisfy are me, myself, and I. And some people, even in large groups, are capable of going with the flow and doing whatever they want as they meander aimlessly through the park. However, when you have several people, especially if they have different tastes and tolerances for rides and attractions, planning your visit ahead of time usually helps.
You do not need to meticulously schedule every second of your visit. That would be impossible. Rather, before you visit the park, preferably the day or two before, you should sit down with your party and discuss which attractions you want to visit the most and which ones you can skip. Review a map so you know where to go, and check ride requirements so you know your youngest members can ride. Also, review the eateries there so you know a good place to eat in your price range. The last thing you want to do is sit down at an unshaded table in the middle of a hot summer day bickering with your party members about where you want to eat while perusing a park map.
Finally, and most importantly, always check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Is the day going to be mostly sunny? Wear and pack sunscreen. Is there a chance of rain? Bring a small umbrella or disposable rain poncho. Again, the last thing you want to do is cut your day short because of incremental weather and miss riding an iconic ride like the Dragon Coaster at LEGOLAND.
#3: Take Anything Valuable
Do: Take only the bare essentials that you need.
Don’t: Take anything you’re not willing to lose.
Theme parks are chaotic. Things get left behind and forgotten. They can get lost, stolen, or broken. So don’t bring anything that you aren’t willing to lose. Don’t take anything too valuable or irreplaceable.
Expensive items like fancy jewelry including rings, necklaces, and bracelets are especially no-no’s, as they can be easily knocked or flicked off on wild rides. Have a favorite piece of clothing? Hope you don’t have a problem getting it messed up or wet. Because stains will happen.
Also, only wear tight-fitting shoes and sandals. Don’t wear loose flip-flops, slippers, or crocs—especially if you going on a wildthrill ride. They will fall off and you will be left with bare feet. Long ago, I once had a relative lose their flip flop after riding Peter Pan’s Flight, of all places!
Finally, don’t bring anything that can easily break. If you bring a drink container, make sure it’s made of metal or durable plastic. I made that mistake with my favorite travel tumbler. On my first visit to a park, its reusable straw broke off, forcing me to buy a metal straw. And on my latest trip, it fell out of my backpack and shattered on the stone pavement. Fortunately, I bought a replacement, but I’m saving it for my home and car from now on.
More tips: If you want to learn more about mistakes to avoid while visiting theme parks, I highly recommend this video by Disney Food Blog Guide: “10 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid in Disney World.” AJ experienced similar problems during her recent Disney trip that she wanted others to learn from. Her video inspired me to write my own column on the topic. Watch her video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0RfHodyS2Y