5 Tips for Taking a Theme Park Trip with Young Children

Are you planning a theme park trip with young children?

Last week we went on a whirlwind Orlando trip with our two kids, ages 5 and 2. Orlando is about an eight hour drive from us, so we decided to make a trip before we move away this summer. We drove there and back and visited two popular theme parks in three days. So, yeah, you could say we are a little crazy. However, our crazy ends up for your benefit. If you’re planning any kind of theme park excursion this summer with your young children, I’ve got some pro tips for you!

This post is brought to you in partnership with Legoland Florida Resort. All opinions are 100% my own. Affiliate links are also included. Your purchases through these links help keep this blog running! 

#1 Keep it laid back

When planning a visit to a theme park, its super easy to go overboard with the planning of every last detail. While it’s good to be prepared, don’t go too crazy and set yourself up for frustration when things don’t go as planned.

For our first theme park, I wanted to get there before the opening time… we woke up late.

So I wanted to get there as soon as possible… then we got lost on the way there.

I was hoping to bring a packed lunch to save money… but we didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store.

After these set backs (and more!) we could have let discouragement settle in and take hold. However, we chose to let it go, move on, and make the best of what we had – two small children who were still having a blast, regardless of whether the adults plans were flowing perfectly.

 

#2 Bring snacks and LOTS of water

If you are visiting a theme park at any time of the year, your energetic little ones are going to want a snack at some point. Unless you want to pay top dollar for theme park snacks (annoying if you’re already planning on purchasing meals there), bringing a few along is a much better option. Plus, unlike packing a whole meal, snacks are usually more portable and easy to take along. They also make great distractions during breaks – or for while big brother is riding the “big kid” rides!

If you are visiting a theme park during the summer, do not underestimate the importance of water. Sure, it’s important all the time, but I don’t know about you – I don’t normally spent 90+ degree summer days outside the entire day. If you don’t bring your own water bottles, you will either blow through the expensive theme park water, or be seriously parched.

Avoid heat stroke and bring one of these bad boys – we filled this water bottle up with ice (which stayed in there all day) and refilled it with water as needed throughout the day. Seriously, these water bottles are awesome (we got this straw lid to use with it).

#3 Use a stroller that has a basket and can lay back

While you probably don’t want to be lugging giant double jogging stroller around a theme park, having a stroller with a little room to carry your stuff is a must with small children. We brought our Britax B-Agile Stroller and it had the perfect amount of room for our snacks, supplies, and water bottles. I saw so many people with tiny umbrella strollers – I don’t know how they did it!

Another added benefit to a nicer stroller is that most have the option for your child to recline back. On both of our theme park visits, the toddler nodded off in the stroller and took a nice little nap. A must when you have kiddos used to taking a nap – especially when they are out in the heat all day! Unless, of course, you enjoy afternoon meltdowns!

#4 Let your toddler out of the stroller if at all possible

I know, I just praised the awesomeness of the stroller. However, here’s the thing, if the toddler rides in his mighty chariot all day long with his devoted parents pushing him around the park this is what you will end up with at the end of the day: a toddler with tons of pent up energy and exhausted parents. Ask me how we know.

If the park you are visiting is going to be too busy to let your toddler toddle on his or her own, I certainly won’t judge you for using a kid leash. I totally would have if I would have thought about it early enough. Even something like this would have been great for my five year old (who I’m not even worried about bolting off) because it got awfully sweaty during the times we needed to hold hands.

#5 Go to Legoland Floria Resort Theme Park

Okay, I’m going to be straight up honest with you here. We did THE Orlando theme park… you know the one I’m talking about… with the castle and the princesses and the mouse with the big ears. Sure, the kids had fun. Sure, it was a “classic” experience. However, the place was a mad house and we left feeling like… welp, don’t know that we will be spending our money on that “experience” again. (Die hard fans please no hate mail!)

We truly weren’t able to put our finger on what was missing from the experience until we went to Legoland the next day. It was a night and day difference.

It wasn’t totally over crowded.

The employees were cheery and helpful.

The atmosphere was awesome.

But the biggest thing that left us feeling like, “yes! we will be back!” was: #builtforkids.

I didn’t remember that was their hashtag until we returned home, but it fits 100%. Legoland was absolutely built with kids in mind.

We started off in Duplo Valley, which is especially geared towards the younger crowd. I think my 5 and 2 year old could have stayed there the whole day. Hands on play area (in the AC – hallelujah!), kid friendly rides, splash area – it was perfect.

But it wasn’t just Duplo Valley, the whole park was built with kids in mind. The ride lines had play areas for the kids while parents held the spot. There were free play, hands on exhibits scattered throughout the park. There were rides that were perfect for all ages. The whole experience was like a breath of fresh air compared to the day before.

A good way to describe the park is like the perfect baby of a hands on children’s museum and a theme park.

And, don’t forget the LEGO. If you have kids that enjoy Lego, they will seriously go crazy here. Awesome Lego shops around every corner, the most amazing life size Lego creations, and plenty of opportunities to build. It’s a Lego lovers dream.

After the day was over, we all agreed that Legoland was our favorite.

I hope these tips were helpful to you no matter what theme park you’re braving this summer. But seriously, if it’s an option, opt for Legoland Florida Resort.

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes (5-9 Boy, 5-9 Girl, and 10-14 Boy)

What We Packed In Our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

In honor of the last day of this years National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, I wanted to share what we packed in our boxes this year!

You will notice that our boxes are really full. When we got home from shopping I was like “Holy cow! Am I going to be able to fit everything in our boxes?!”

I almost searched the house for a another box to use. However, I decided to try and get everything to fit – and I did! I just barely got the lid closed! I figured if the packers at the collection center can’t get everything back inside, then some of our extra can go to a box that’s a little empty for whatever reason.

Or maybe whoever gets our boxes will need the extra items for someone at home! You never know how God is going to work things out!

Anyways, if you are trying to maximize the space in your box, I took step by step pictures for two of our boxes that show how I fit everything in there.

Without further ado, the boxes…

5-9 Girl

What We Packed In Our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

What’s Inside

  • Two packs of stickers
  • Flip flops
  • Small storage container
  • Two pairs of socks
  • Two pencil sharpeners
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencils
  • Bandana
  • Doll
  • Small ball
  • Alphabet blocks
  • Washcloth
  • Necklace and bracelet set
  • Hair ties
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste set
  • Headbands
  • Crayons
  • Notebook
  • Soap
  • Eraser

How It All Fit!

First, we placed in the bandana.

What We Packed In Our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

The stickers went on the bottom.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Followed by the storage container with the lid underneath and the notebook to the side. Then, I started filling up the container with soft items.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

I squeezed as much as I could into that small container.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

I slid the pencils in the back behind the container and the toothbrush set in the front of the container. Then, I started placing the remaining items on the left side of the box and a few more small things in the container.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Once it was all in there I set the flip flops on top.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

And folded the bandana overtop.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

We wrote a message on the inside of our box too! 🙂

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Make sure to add those rubber bands to make sure it stays closed!

5-9 Boy

 

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

What’s Inside

  • Flip flops
  • Plain t-shirt
  • Soccer ball
  • Pump
  • Pencils
  • Dolphin toy
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste set
  • Small plastic container
  • Three cars
  • Two pencil sharpeners
  • Notebook
  • Four small washcloths
  • Small ball
  • Eraser
  • Bandana
  • Rubber bands (not pictured)
  • Soap (not pictured)
  • Twine (not pictured)

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

There it is all snug in there! This one took some fiddling to be able to fit both the big soccer ball and the flip flops – but it worked!

10-14 Boy

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

After I found out that this age group is the one with the least boxes packed, I knew I had to pack one! I still can’t believe how much I was able to get in this box! My only regret is that I wish I would have snuck in a few more toys – big kids like to play too!

What’s Inside

  • Bandana
  • Two screwdrivers
  • Two rolls of duct tape
  • Small tarp
  • Notepad
  • Two rolls of twine
  • Two pencil sharpeners
  • Two erasers
  • Pencils
  • Rubber ball
  • Small playground ball
  • Bungee cords
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste pack
  • Small storage container
  • Rubber bands
  • Two microfiber towels
  • Soap
  • Ball pump

How It All Fit In

Let’s break down this one too…

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

I again started with the bandana on the bottom. Then, I folded the tarp and put that on the bottom too.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

I put some of the small things, like the sharpeners and erasers at the end of the tarp and then put the container on top.

 

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Once again, anything squishy went in the container – the ball, bungee cords, towels. Taking things out the packages to save space is key! I slid the toothbrush pack in the back and the screwdrivers in the front and the pump fit next to the plastic container.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Using a little rearranging, everything else found a place where there was room.

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Wrap it up with the bandana and squeeze that lid shut!

 

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Yay! All our boxes all packed up! Another great year for Operation Christmas Child. I think this next year we are going to pick up shoebox gifts as we see them on sale and keep them in a tub until it’s shoebox time again!

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

Great ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

 

Looking for more shoebox inspiration? Check out my giant round-up of everything Operation Christmas Child

The ULTIMATE Operation Christmas Child Round-Up

Want some help making your shoebox packing a meaningful and memorable time with your kids? Download my FREE mini-devotional! Go here for more information.

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

truthinthetinsel-468