Walt Disney World (FL)

Keeping Children Involved While Visiting a Theme Park

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Picture from my disposable camera from my Disneyland trip-1989
Picture from my disposable camera from my 1989 Disneyland trip (I am on the right).


Let me start by saying that I do not have children of my own, nor do I travel anywhere with children. So, you’re probably wondering what makes me qualified to speak on the subject? Well, I do have one major qualification: I use to be one of those theme park children.

Even though I did not go to Disneyland a lot as a child (it was too expensive for my family), I did visit other Southern California theme parks quite often — specifically Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood. My parents managed to teach me a lot about planning, having fun, and cherishing each experience, so below are the four strategies that I would like to pass along to you to help set up everyone in your family for a happy theme park experience.

Picture from Main Street Disneyland 1989.
Disney Afternoon parade- Disneyland 1989

Let the Children Be a Part of the Planning

As a child, one of my favorite things my parents let me do was plan out our theme park experience. I am about to date myself, but there was very little information on the internet back then, so my parents took me to the local library to do my own research. I would get books that were written about Southern California attractions and bone up on whatever theme parks we were going to visit.

Even though most of the information was bare-bones (opening/closing times and attraction information), it was more than enough for me to get started. Then, when we got to the theme park, I would grab a map and start leading the way. Fortunately nowadays, TouringPlans makes it a lot easier to do research and plan your trip. So, going through TouringPlans with your child and creating a plan together can get them involved early.

My cousin and me taking a picture in front of the Dick Tracy picture board.
My cousin and me taking a picture in front of the Dick Tracy picture board-Disneyland 1989

Being Prepared

Even though I was the one that gathered the theme park information, my parents were the ones that had to plan which supplies to bring, when we would eat, and when to take a break. It is important to know which supplies you will need to pack for the day, but remember to keep in mind not to pack too many items because over packing is easy to do. Simple necessities such as sunscreen, water, snacks, and hand sanitizer is often all you need, although supplies vary greatly depending on the children in question. Also, putting together a plan to know when your family will need to eat and to recharge are key moments in any trip. Knowing when to eat and rest can mean the difference between having a great time or a terrible one.

Main Street Electrical Parade.
Main Street Electrical Parade- Disneyland 1989

Have Children Take Part in Capturing the Memories

One of the most important things to do while on any vacation is to document the moments you shared. Parents should not be the only one taking pictures — let your children take a turn at being the photographer.

I am about to date myself again, but as a child I did not have digital camera, so my parents let me use my own disposable film camera (Ed. – Look it up youngin’s). I was able to snap away whenever I wanted, and the next day my parents would take me to the nearest photo developer place and have them developed. These are pictures I still have to this day.

Me in one of my favorite attractions as a child (that isn't there anymore)  Motor Boat Cruise.
Me in one of my favorite attractions as a child (which isn’t there anymore): Motor Boat Cruise- Disneyland 1989

It Will Bring Your Family Closer

Experiencing a theme park can be an exhausting and tiring experience, especially with children. Giving your children and your family an amazing traveling experience is priceless, and it is something you will remember for ages.

I learned so much from my parents taking me to different theme parks as a child, and allowing me to truly be a part of the entire trip. Even though I know that every family is different, just thinking about how you involve kids in your travels is a great starting point to help you discover how to make your family have long-lasting, happy memories.

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Growing up Southern California, it was hard for Ray not want to go to Disneyland everyday. He was a passholder for over 10 years until he left to teach English in Korea and now lives in Seattle. Even though he lives in the Pacific Northwest, he always has Disney on the mind. Ray is channeling his Disney passion to write for TouringPlans.

4 thoughts on “Keeping Children Involved While Visiting a Theme Park

  • Pat in Lakewood

    Wonderful article!! Especially about the benefits of rest time. Children and parents (in particular), get fussy and demanding when tired. I know I do. Keep your family outing positive by scheduling rest periods away from the noise and crowds if possible. Ray, where were your favorite quiet spots in Disneyland?

    • Here are a few of my favorite quiet spots around Disneyland:
      -The eating area near Edelweiss Snacks
      -Snow White’s Well entering Fantasyland
      -Big Thunder Ranch
      -Hungry Bear Restaurant
      -Walk way near Harbour Galley

      • Pat in Lakewood

        Does Toon Town still close earlier than the rest of the park? I sort of recall that it did then and made for a nice quiet area.

      • Unfortunately ToonTown does close an hour early before every nighttime firework show. And ToonTown doesn’t really have any quiet places to rest.

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