I've been waiting for the right moment to share one of my favorite park hacks. This one represents many strategies combined in one useful mobile platform, the stroller.
If you recall, from the introduction, seeing strollers being used badly in were a couple of the moments that inspired me to write this book. In the first, I was standing in line for pizza on International Street (by the fountain.) Around me were hot, stressed families who were also tired and hungry. One mom ahead of me in the queue, was, using only one hand, squeezing a large stroller in and out of the metal rails. The stroller was loaded with gear and one of her two kids. The other child was accupying her other arm and blessing us and the restaurant staff with high-pitched screams.
Within a couple days of witnessing that, I saw another mom in the Soak City water park, also single-hendedly (literally… the other hand had a tray of food), guiding a huge stroller. It looked like a wagon train, with towels, cups and three small children riding along. She was making it work, but it certainly didn’t look easy as they slowly advanced across the hot concrete.
Think of your Stroller as Home Base If you go to the park with a small child, you probably will want to bring a stroller. Even if the kid is stubborn and wants to walk, after an intense morning and afternoon of walking, rides, shows and amusement park food, that comfy seat on wheels starts to look pretty good. Even better if that stroller has shade built in. Sometimes the difference between a long, pleasant visit to the park and one cut short by a full-on melt-down is just giving your younger family members a chance to rest.
When your little one needs that rest, it is good to have a plan with your group. If your group is mixed, this is a good time for the action oriented family members to break off and hit a few thrill rides. Don't forget to pick a good meeting place and set a time. For the volunteer(s) who to take the quieter path set yourself up for success by getting your kid a bathroom break and a drink as you head to quieter places.
If your little one falls asleep you may be able to find a shady quiet place to park. If they need to be walked to reach a relaxed state, it would be valuable to know where you can get away from the constantly blaring pop-music. There are two good paths that fit this need. Dinosaur Alive on the East side of the park, at the far end of Coney Mall, next to Windseeker. If you're a gold pass holder it is included at no additional charge. If you don't have a Gold Pass and don't mind paying $5/person. This is a quiet, shady paved path with an occasional rubber dinosaur. If your child is afraid of rubber dinosaur effects, it might be a good idea to wait until they conk out before taking this path. The other choice that is free for all park visitors is the quiet path between Planet Snoopy and the Soak City waterpark.
Advanced Hack: Bring a Stroller Without a Kid There is no law that you must have a child to have a stroller. If you have the ability to borrow a stroller for the day, even if you do not have a child, bring it along. A stroller is a platform where you can hang your drink cups and clothing alternatives. You can brink a soft cooler or bag with versatile snack foods to help stretch your energy until an off peak meal time. An extra jacket or a change of socks could come in handy. If rain is in the forecast, an umbrella or poncho could tuck into the bottom of a stroller.
You roll the stroller up to the entrance of the ride and park it. Most of the time no one messes with strollers. This is a far better option than dropping your backpack or refillable drink cup into the bins by the rollercoasters. Anyone else could snag your stuff. Or more likely, you're liable to just walk away yourself, forgetting you had things in there.
What do you think?
I'm thankful for all the encouraging feedback I've been getting as I finish preparing this first edition of the book for launch. It gives me a good feeling to know that those who read this book will be better prepared, and more likely to have a fun day at the park. >> If you have thoughts about strollers, or other tips that you'd like to share, you are welcome to follow the Share a Hack form at the top of the page. You can also drop it in the comments below.