Day Pass: Theme Park Packing List

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Day Pass: Theme Park Packing List
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From the rides to the shows, theme park vacations are a sure bet for family fun, but they can also lead to some stressful situations. Packing expert Anne McAlpin (whose packing tips are found on PackItUp.com) says there are plenty of ways to prevent or alleviate vacation setbacks if you plan ahead and do some thoughtful packing. Here's what you can bring to the parks to make your family trip effortless -- and memorable.

The Right Clothes (And Enough of Them)
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The Right Clothes (And Enough of Them)

With tons of water rides and games, the chances of kids getting wet are high. Consider buying clothes made of moisture-wicking fabric that can be found at any sports or outdoor recreation store. Also, pack some extra T-shirts, shorts, or underwear before you head out to the park, McAlpin says. And don't forget to bring large plastic baggies to store those wet items. As an alternative, line a backpack with a plastic garbage bag.

Bandages and First Aid Kit
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Bandages and First Aid Kit

Pack bandages or a small first aid kit; they'll come in handy if you or your children get cuts or develop blisters during a long day of walking, McAlpin says. A good in-case-of-emergency tip is to write your cell phone number on a bandage and stick it on kids who can't memorize a phone number yet.

Maps and Documents
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Maps and Documents

Remember to bring copies of theme park maps, receipts, and travel records, especially if you pre-booked your tickets online. Having the documents handy can help quickly resolve any problems at the gate. If you have a smartphone, check if the park has an app that can guide you. It also helps to have a plan in place if anyone in the family gets lost. Ask the park if there are recommendations for how and where separated family members can find each other, McAlpin says.

Disposable Cameras
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Disposable Cameras

Purchase some waterproof disposable cameras for each member of the family to use while at the park, McAlpin says. They're a fun and inexpensive way to keep your children entertained between rides. The different perspectives of your vacation also make for a great photo collage or scrapbook.

Rain Ponchos
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Rain Ponchos

Sudden rain showers are common in warm climates where many theme parks operate, and parks often sell them at high prices. Purchase inexpensive ponchos from a dollar store and pack them before you leave, McAlpin says. When it stops raining, the ponchos can do double duty as a dropcloth for a picnic or for sitting on the ground before a parade or show starts.

Toys for Long Waits
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Toys for Long Waits

Packing small, inexpensive games and toys can keep the kids entertained while your family waits in line for rides. Something as simple as a pad and pencil can keep them busy with tic-tac-toe or hangman. Brush up on your word games too, so the whole family can play 20 Questions or I-Spy.

Spending Allowance
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Spending Allowance

Bring a roll of quarters for your younger children or give them each a five-dollar bill as their daily spending allowance, McAlpin says. Tell them that they can spend that amount each day or the total amount for the week on anything they want. Once they've reached the limit, don't buy anything else. "Otherwise you'll be bombarded all day with things they want you to buy," McAlpin says. "Kids also like that they can decide what they want to spend it on."

Bandanas
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Bandanas

Bandanas have a hundred and one uses that can come in handy at a theme park. Use them to wipe away sweat, towel off a dirty bench, or to cover heads from the hot sun, McAlpin says.

Flip-Flops
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Flip-Flops

Wear good walking shoes to the park, but remember to bring flip flops or slip-on shoes when little feet need a break, or if there's a water fountain they just have to jump in, McAlpin says. Keep in mind that some rides and areas at theme parks may prohibit flip-flops, so be prepared to change out of them if you have to.

Snacks
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Snacks

Theme park food is often expensive -- and not super healthy. Check whether the park allows guests to bring in snacks and pack bags of granola, peanut butter crackers, nuts or raisins. They can help tide those tummies until dinner. Also remember plenty of water to stay hydrated, McAlpin says.

Walkie-Talkies
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Walkie-Talkies

Walkie-talkies are a good alternative to cell phones to help families communicate in a big theme park, McAlpin says. You don't have to worry about how many bars you have, and kids love the technology. Over and out.

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