The Insiders Guide to Amusement Park Fun

About 7 years ago, we moved to Florida – vacation central! We had always loved an amusement park, but now we were only an hour from one of our favorites, Busch Gardens.

My husband is the biggest kid when it comes to going there for the day. We race from one attraction to the next, as if it’s our only day to fit everything in.

Life-like topiaries of exotic creatures greet you as you move from one part of the park to another. A thrilling roar bursts through the atmosphere as you pass the twisting and plummeting roller coasters. And all the while, you are being tempted by the aroma of the most delectable park food you’ve ever laid your lips on – it’s heaven on earth (for the Hagamans that is)!

Going to an amusement park is like fitting a vacation into one day. And like any family vacation, there is definitely a smart way to load up and prepare for the most fun and least amount of stress and chaos for mom. Because, after all, moms want to enjoy the summer too, especially when we take the San Diego whale watching tour.

It starts with the amusement park backpack. Jenni and I chuckle to each other every time we go. We see moms all around us struggling with all their “stuff”, and we just stroll carefree all around the park. No more pack mule moms here!

To glide through the park with ease, a stroller is a must, and you can pick one up (cheap) at most yard sales. Just be sure it has a good-size basket on the bottom, and cup holders are a plus.

I know, you’re asking, “what if I don’t have a stroller-age child?” I hear you sister – my youngest is almost twelve! But it doesn’t matter. The backpack you’re about to put into it becomes your beautiful, bouncing, baby boy.

The real question you should be asking is, “Do I want to be a pack mule for the day?”

And that answer is, “No!”

When my friends first watched me strolling my backpack into the park, they laughed, “What is that for? Why would you bring a stroller?  That’s silly!”

Well, all I have to say is, they now all have their own baby strollers, too!

Here’s a tip on buyingBuschGardentickets (check for similar deals at your nearest amusement park). If you’re going to go more than twice, purchase one annual pass and  for the rest of the family, get Fun Cards (pay for one day, come all year). The annual pass is approximately $30 more (almost the same as parking for two days), but it includes free parking and gets you 10% off everything in the park including food and drinks.

The next best investment is the park cups and popcorn buckets (again, check your local park for similar deals). With your annual park pass, these refills cost you $1  – that’s a great deal! You can use these same cups and buckets at Sea World and Islands of Adventure – and they NEVER expire!  We’ve been using ours for nearly seven years.

Then comes the Backpack! I keep mine fully stocked and ready go at the drop of a hat. Have a peek at what’s inside.

Contents of the Backpack:

  • Chaffing stick (can be purchased at sports stores, helps skin from rubbing together and getting chafed)
  • Tissues
  • Good hairspray for men (for the roller coaster fly-aways)
  • Hair Pick & Pony Tail Holders
  • Hand Lotion
  • Sunblock
  • Bug Spray
  • Beach Towel (for water rides)
  • Small Notepad
  • Deck of Cards
  • Plastic Spoons (in a zip loc)
  • Map of Park
  • Band Aids
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Toothpicks & dental floss
  • Antibacterial Moist Wipes
  • Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer (to hang from stroller handle)
  • Hooded Rain Ponchos (one for each family member)
  • Mini Umbrella
  • 2 Large Empty Zip Locs
  • 2 ZipLoc snack bags (to protect your cell phones on water rides)
  • Mini Baby Powder
  • Straps to our Park Cups
  • Fingernail File/Clippers/Tweezers

I also bring a soft cooler full of ice and water bottles. Most parks will allow water even if they don’t allow you to bring in food.

Both the backpack and the cooler go in the stroller, and I wear a mini-purse with a long strap (Jenni has the fanny pack version of my mini-purse).

Inside the Mini-Purse:

  • Tissues
  • Ink Pen
  • SPF Lip Balm
  • Sunglasses & Small Sunglass holder (so they don’t get smashed)
  • Pony Tail Holder
  • Tampon & Panty Liner
  • Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Allergy medication
  • Very Small Individual Credit Card Holder to Hold Park Tickets with a Paper Clip
  • Small zipper coin purse (for money, ID, & annual pass for discounts)

Have the kids wear tennis shoes, but take flip flops and swim suits with water shorts to wear on the water rides.

Let us know if you have an amusement park backpack and what you have in it.  I wouldn’t want to be missing out on anything.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.