4 Tips for a Theme Park Vacation with Young Kids

"a picture is worth a thousand words, but the memories are priceless..."  -unknown

IMG-5990.JPG

Let’s be real… a vacation with four children, really any age kids, is more of an adventure than a vacation.  For our family trip this year we rented a beach house in Oceanside, California, and took the kids to Legoland…and to add to the adventure, we DROVE down to Southern California from Northern California! I was actually very pleasantly surprised at how smooth not only the drive, but our entire trip went!  With the help of lots of movies on my mini-van DVD player and many fun snacks, the kids waited two whole hours on the six-and-a-half-hour drive before expressing “are we there yet”! Ha! So here are some tips from a now veteran “vacation mom” of four kids age six and under:


            The kids set up a lemonade stand at the park in our neighborhood and made $75!

          The kids set up a lemonade stand at the park in our neighborhood and made $75!

Tip #1: Make them earn it- we began planning this trip a year ago.  We planned this far in advance for several reasons, but one being that we wanted the kids to earn it. We tend to appreciate things more if we have to work for them, and since it is easy in today’s society to be a little entitled, we had our kids start saving their hard-earned money.  We don’t pay our kids for doing their chores {feeding the dogs, making their bed and cleaning their rooms}, these are things that they do because our family is a team, and they are a part of the team. They earned money by working with Grandma and Grandpa at our family owned restaurant, setting up a lemonade stand in our neighborhood and doing things above and beyond their daily chores.  All of the things that they did to earn money for this trip were things that they loved and had fun doing.  This made the months leading up to our Legoland vacation fun and exciting!

Dog tag

Tip #2: My mother-in-law actually came up with the idea to make a “dog tag” style charm for each child, and she had them made for the kids.  She just went to Walmart and got each child a tag that says “Grandma” and her phone number on them.  She then told the kids that if they ever got separated from us to find a park employee and have them call her.  Our older kids have our phone numbers memorized, but not our two-year-old.  It is really important to have a conversation with your kids about what to do if you get separated and to have a plan! I know this from experience now, as we got separated from Henry {our 4-year old} at Legoland when he stopped to play with his “Minifigure” as we were walking to a ride.  It was the longest forty-five seconds of my life, but sure enough he had found a park employee right away and Jon found them seconds after. 

IMG-5983.JPG

Tip #3: Bright-colored t-shirts- having the kids wear bright shirts made them easier to spot in the crowds! This was not only cute in pictures, but really helpful when they were playing in the play zones or waiting in line for a ride.   I made the kids t-shirts by buying $3 Walmart T’s, then getting iron-on paper at Michael’s for $9.99. We printed the Lego logo on them at home.   They turned out pretty cute and even Nora had one.

Tip #4: Say YES! Plan ahead and make it a “yes” trip! We did this by starting to save a year in advance so that we were able to have the trip paid for before going. This allowed us to not stress over cost, and do fun extra things such as taking them into the Lego store and letting them pick out ANY Lego set that they wanted! {we did have to say no when Jack tried to choose the $400 ages 16+ set… he is only six years old, Haha!}.  We also made it a “yes” time by allowing them to drink soda, juice and eat candy before breakfast and several other things that they could never get away with at home.  Yes, it was painful for me as I was trying not to add up how many grams of sugar they likely consumed in a day, but it made them so happy and I heard several times how I was the “coolest mom ever”! (That made the guilt I felt over the sugar consumption worth it!)


**Legoland specific tips:

Legoland allows you to bring in a 12x12 cooler with light snacks and water.  I packed the kids sandwiches and snacks each day and brought plenty of waters for all of us.  One of the things that really impressed me about Legoland was the good food and healthy options that they offered. 

Mini figures- kids can bring their Lego Minifigures from home and trade them with any park employee, or they can buy three Minifigures in a pack at the “Minifigure Mart”, in case you forget to bring them to the park like we did.  This is so fun for them to trade continuously for different figures.

Overall, we were really impressed with Legoland in general, from the healthy food options, to the park cleanliness, bathroom accessibility and short ride lines.  We were there on a Wednesday and Thursday and never had to wait in a line for more than twenty minutes. 

We have a family friend who works for Legoland and was able to bless us with some tickets, but then we got a few more tickets on Groupon.  This specific deal has ended, but we paid $128 for two adult tickets which included the water park. This was a great find because full price is $127 for one adult ticket, and 3-years-old and under are free.  So, keep your eyes out for a deal online.

While a trip to Legoland won’t be something that we do every year for our kids, {maybe every three years while they are young}, renting a beach house will definitely be a annual family trip for the Davis Family.