From the Desk of Brian Schectman: Visiting Theme Parks with Young Children, Part 1

Theme parks are fun for kids of all ages. However, enjoying a relatively stress-free day at a theme park with a young child requires planning, a bit of strategy, and a lot of patience.

Pack supplies for the day, and then stow everything in a backpack. Pack everything you need, but pack lightly. Prepare for your day at the park the evening before, because waiting until the last minute almost always guarantees that something important is forgotten.

For young children, include diapers, wet wipes, and a change of clothes. If it looks like rain, take ponchos or lightweight rain jackets. Dress for comfort. Ensure everybody wears sturdy, comfortable shoes and no flip flops. Include a swimsuit and a towel if the park contains a water park. Remember your cell phone, and if your phone doesn’t include a camera, pack one.

A Christmas theme park in Miami, Santa’s Enchanted Forest routinely hosts nonprofit organizations, including local children’s organizations and well-known entities such as Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The park is owned by Brian Schectman, who established it more than 29 years ago.

From the Desk of Brian Schectman: Visiting Theme Parks with Young Children, Part 2

Consider safety when planning a day at a theme park. Dress children in brightly colored clothing so you can spot them in a crowd. Write your cell phone number inside your young child’s collar, or put an index card or a business card in a jacket pocket. If your child tends to wander, don’t hesitate to use a bungee. Take a lightweight stroller for young children.

Print a park schedule and a map the evening before, and then plan your day. Prioritize the events and rides you want to enjoy first. Allow plenty of time for rests, because an occasional break could prevent crankiness and tantrums. Don’t nag your child to partake in rides if he isn’t interested, and don’t disobey park rules regarding size and age limitations. Keep things low key, because a visit to a theme park is often exhausting for a young child. Relax, enjoy, and make it a memorable day.

As owner of Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Brian Schectman scouts the best rides for his park by visiting fairs and festivals across the country. The park, located at Miami’s Tropical Park, is the largest Christmas theme park in the world.