Tips and Tricks for Amusement Park Fun!!

I will be honest. I am not a huge fan of taking my kids into the public. I get overwhelmed really easily and need a couple days before-hand to psych myself up so to speak. So when my cousin offered to come with me to Calaway Park  amusement park I was excited at the prospect of having another person who had to care about my kids well being come with me. (you know family ties and all.)

I was pleasantly surprised that we had a great day! The only difficult part was getting out of the city through 4 different construction zones and detours, but once we got there the kids had a great time! I am disappointed that I didn’t go earlier.

Here are some tips that I found made the trip that much better.

1. Dress for the Weather. (and for the weather that *might* be)

Calgary is notorious for changing weather. A popular saying here is “Don’t like the weather? Wait 10 mins.” It was a beautiful sunny summer day and so I dressed my kids in shorts, runners (as sandals will fly off on the rides), t-shirts and a light hoodie, hats and sunglasses of course. They stripped the hoodies off half way through. Bring sunscreen.

My 4 year old taking a break.

2. Bring a stroller or a wagon *and* a carrier.

I am not a huge fan of lugging my big bulky stroller to places – but when visiting Calaway or the Zoo it is a must. The kids left their sunglasses and hats in the bucket when we went on rides, and we were able to switch between the carrier and a stroller ride when the 2 year old got antsy waiting in all the lines. Also the stroller provides a little bit of shade and reprieve for tired little legs so it was a win all around. I did take my Kinderpack with us, and the two year old was on my back for a lot of the day since he was too little to go on rides, so the stroller was mostly utilized by my cousins almost 3 year old daughter and my 4 year old. That was until the 4 year old was feeling really tired and cranky and up he went on my back to get a cuddle and a re-charge.

3. Write your cell number on your kids’ arm with a sharpie.

People were kinda looking at us a little weird as we were writing our phone numbers on children’s arms…but Calaway doesn’t actually have a lost kids tent, and it can be incredibly busy. Also when the children exit from a ride it can sometimes be a challenge to get to them quickly and grab them before they start to walk away. By having your phone number right on their arm, other patrons and staff can quickly locate you. We were happy not to have experience a lost child, but you can never be too careful.

4. Mark up the map.

Circles added by me.

Since all of the children that we were with were under the age of 7, we found it difficult to find the rides that all of the kids could ride on. We would go to a ride and all line up next to the measuring thing and find out that one or two of the kids couldn’t go…so we would walk for a bit to find another one. Calaway doesn’t have all the little kid rides in one spot as one would assume, so you really have to look at your map. What helped us greatly was going through the map to the list of all the rides that were for children under a certain height and then I marked them on the actual map so that when we would walk by a ride we could just look at the map and see if it was going to be one that the kids could ride. (this cut waiting times in half.)

5. Bring realistic expectations.

Waiting is hard for anyone, but it is even harder for children. Think of games like “I spy” or sing songs while waiting in line to make the time go faster. Know your own child’s limitations…some line ups are just too long for a 2 or 3 year old, skip them and save you and your child from undue stress. Understand that they do not know why you are waiting and that they have really short attention spans. Also, be considerate to the others in line – but don’t expect that your child will be an angel – Calaway park is for kids and people have to understand that sometimes children have tantrums when they are hot, tired and hungry.

6. Bring a lunch.

Lunch of hummus sandwiches and fruit. (goldfishes for L)

While carnival food is fun, none of it is healthy and the line ups alone can take 40 mins to get a hot dog (as my cousin experienced) There are picnic tables all over the park and most are in the shade. We spotted one next to the Driving School ride and the kids re-fueled. My son also has allergies so knowing where his food comes from makes sure that we wont have to visit the bathroom too much when wanting to have fun instead! Save that money for cotton candy!!

7. Water is a must!

Who doesn’t love the boat ride?

Bring your reusable water bottles for you and your kids. Walking around the grounds on a hot day (with little to no shade) can make for dehydrated kids. There ARE water fountains located next to the bathrooms so it will be easy for you to re-fill as needed. OR you could spend upwards of $2.50 on one bottle of Dasani.

8. Games for young and old! 

My son loves to play games so when he walked into the park and saw all the carnival games he was in heaven. Make a budget for games (most are $5 a play) and explain to your kids that some of the games are not easy. (even though they look it). My son played two games; ring toss and a fishing game. He did not win anything and was upset. Next time I will make sure that we choose the games that are a guaranteed win. (ask people who have the stuffies which games they found to be the easiest)

9. Treats to end a wonderful day.

Still an incredible amount of sugar!

Even though we eat very healthy I do allow my kids to choose one treat on special outings. My kids had never had cotton candy and when they saw all these other children walking around with them they decided that is what they wanted. (maybe it was also because I don’t allow fake blue food and they knew I already said it was okay…)
One bag is huge and no child really needs that much sugar (treat or no) and so I asked the vendor for two more bags and split the cotton candy into 3 different bags. One for each child. (and amount based on age). The vendors have no problem giving you extra bags and this is a trick that I use often at places like Booster Juice as well.
I bought myself one of the salted pretzels which took me right back to my childhood…if you have never had one I would suggest you try it next time!

10. A final thought on babies… 


One last suggestion is to maybe not bring children under the age of two as they mostly have to wait in the stroller or wrap for the whole day and that isn’t too fun for them – but if you don’t mind waiting on the sidelines with them it will still be a great day full of fun for the whole family!

We had a great time and the kids want to go back and try some bigger rides now that they have their toes wet. Don’t forget your camera! These days are fleeting and it is always nice to have some digital memories.

Favourite ride!
Their favourite ride!

Get out there!! Do you have any tips that I may have missed? Share in comments below!

Post Author: Alisha

While I spend most of my time homeschooling my 4 kids, I am also on a journey to better myself by exploring all the interesting things that life has to offer. I am passionate about human rights, especially in regards to birth, and am an advocate for families and babies.

4 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks for Amusement Park Fun!!

    Calgary Mom

    (July 31, 2012 - 8:45 pm)

    Always remember you don’t have to go for the full day. This especially makes sense if you get a pass before the season starts at the discounted price. Our son is very sensitive to crowds and noises so we often go for an hour or so first thing in the morning and before any meltdowns due over stimulation we leave (often to go hiking in the mountains). Everyone has fun, and the day wasn’t ruined because of grumps and meltdowns!

    Kathy Hunt

    (August 1, 2012 - 12:25 am)

    I absolutely love the cell phone number on the arm suggestion and will be using it for sure! We went to Calaway for the first time last week (2 kids, 2 & 3.75 yrs old) and I (we) are also not big public people, the best thing we did was to get there at opening and plan on leaving right after a picnic lunch.

    Laurie - advoflittle

    (August 1, 2012 - 4:52 am)

    Great post! I think you nailed it. We did very similar things at the Stampede and zoo…except the stroller. Maybe a fold up wagon, but good carrier and a great purse/backpack work great for us and our two. It also helps that they are both light-weights.



    (August 1, 2012 - 5:27 am)

    When we have two or more adults, one will stand in line for the next ride while the kids ride the first. Also my sis has a cotton candy machine, it only takes 2! Life savers to make one serving so maybe not do much sugar as you think 🙂

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