Do your summer plans include a trip to an area theme park? Whether you’re heading north to Hershey Park or Dutch Wonderland or south to Adventure Park, Kings Dominion, or Busch Gardens, you’ll want to keep a few items in mind so you can enjoy a safe, fun visit.
First things first; make sure you’re prepared for a long day outside. Theme Park Insider founder Robert Niles says in his years of experience as a theme park employee and visitor he’s seen more people suffer from sunburn, rashes, heat exhaustion and heat stroke than all other injuries put together.
With that in mind, start drinking extra water a couple of days ahead of your park visit. Once you’re in the park, remember to keep drinking to stay hydrated. Remember water is always your best bet on a hot day. Sugary drinks like soda and lemonade aren’t as efficient and alcohol will only make dehydration worse.
You’ll also want to slather on the sunscreen before you enter the park. Even if you’re not going to a water park, choose a waterproof sunscreen so it will hold up to sweat (or that big splash as you walk by the flume ride). Schedule breaks during the day to reapply – even the best sunscreens are no match for a whole day of theme park fun.
You may be well hydrated and protected from the sun, but you’re virtually guaranteed a miserable day if you skip our last preparation pointer: wear the right shoes. If the forecast calls for a hot day you might be tempted to grab a pair of sandals (or even flip flops), but sturdy, comfortable sneakers and clean, dry socks are a much smarter choice.
At the Park
While you’re enjoying the park, be sure to stay away from restricted areas. They’re roped off for a reason. If you drop something and it lands in a restricted area (e.g. under a ride), ask a park employee for help.
As you walk through the park and decide which rides and attractions to visit, keep an eye out for any restrictions. They’re usually posted so you can see them before you get in line. If you or someone you’re with is less than five feet tall, taller than six feet, pregnant, has back or neck injuries, or other health issues, you’re not going to be able to hit every ride in the park. Pay attention and don’t cheat the system. The rules exist to keep you safe.
If you’re a roller coaster enthusiast Niles has a few tips to help you avoid a nasty post-ride headache (or a more serious injury); he says the key is to “ride ‘er easy.”
“Sit in the middle of the chair and don’t slouch or lean to one side,” Niles writes on Theme Park Insider. “Relax, but do not go limp. You want to keep your balance in the seat. When the seat pitches you to the left, relax your torso and bend to the right to keep your head upright and centered. And vice versa. Think of riding a horse, or surfing. You want to ride the seat–not have it throw you around.”
Saferparks recommends taking frequent breaks if you’re into the high-g rides (like roller coasters). If you ride the intense roller coasters and other high-g rides repeatedly you can actually lose consciousness. Passing out on these kinds of rides can lead to serious injuries. The site recommends taking a 20-30 minute break between rides (in most cases the line will take care of that delay for you!).
At the End of Your Visit
A day at the amusement park is enough to wear most people out, but be careful to save enough energy to get home safely. If you’re driving back home the same day be sure to pace yourself accordingly.
With a little planning, some common sense and rule-following, your summer trip to the amusement park can be a day of fun and memories that last a lifetime.