Leave your purse or handbag at home and go hands-free with a backpack. Remember, a heavy pack means a sore back, so choose a reasonably-sized backpack to fill with travel-size essentials.
If you have young children, they're going to get tired. Bring your stroller or rent one at the amusement park, and give the kids a ride (and some shade) when they need a break. Tie a colored scarf or bandana on the handle to easily identify your stroller.
Nothing can ruin a day at the park faster than a sunburn. Apply sunscreen ahead of time, and bring a small bottle with you to reapply throughout the day. Check this year's Skin Deep sunscreen guide from Environmental Working Group for a list of the safest and most effective sunscreens.
Double up your sun protection by bringing a wide-brimmed hat like the sun-protective hats made by Sunday Afternoons.
Zip-top plastic bags are always handy. Use them to stash cell phones and cameras when you go on a water ride or sit in the splash zone.
Bring a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer or small package of hand wipes for easy clean-up before and after meals and snacks.
Freeze bottles of water the night before, so they'll stay cold at the park. Bring healthy snacks like apples and trail mix to keep the kids fueled and in good spirits.
Avoid shelling out the big bucks for a poncho inside the amusement park, and buy yours for $1 at a discount store ahead of time. You'll be glad to have one to wear on wet rides or if it rains.
Bring a small digital camera to capture the memories. Take a photo of where you park and a close-up of your kids. You don't want to lose your kids or your car, but it's good to be prepared.
Bring a change of clothes for young children in case they get wet during water rides or shows. Clean, dry kids are always worth the extra bulk in the backpack.
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