Family theme park trips provide a lot of excitement and fun for the entire family, and Las Vegas has an abundance of them. That does not mean, however, that theme parks do not pose some risks. To make the most of your vacation, you want to make sure that you keep every member of the family safe and healthy throughout your theme park adventure. Use these tips to help with your theme park trip, especially when traveling with children. Speak with our experienced personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Michael T. Gibson to discuss your case and recovery option.
1. Make sure your child knows how to contact you in an emergency.
Children can go missing all too easily at theme parks. Big crowds can make it hard to keep your eyes on your children at all times. Loud noises, bright colors, and exciting attractions may catch your child’s attention at just the wrong moment, causing him to wander away from your group.
If your child does get lost, follow these steps to make it easier for him to connect with you again.
- Set a family meeting place. Tell children where to meet if you get separated. For older children, who may have the ability to wander around the theme park themselves for part of the day, set specific meeting times and times to connect. Choose a large, easily-identifiable landmark at the theme park that children will see from wherever they wander.
- Tell children what to do if they get lost. Do your children know what to do if they do get lost? Ideally, children should contact a staff member, who will then help them find you. Staff members at theme parks all receive training about what to do with lost children. Teach children to locate a staff member. Older children can learn your phone number. Children should also know your real name, not just “mom” or “dad,” to make it easier for staff members to find you.
- Put your phone number somewhere on your child, if needed. Young children may struggle to remember your phone number, especially if they get scared in an emergency. Give your child a bracelet with your phone number, print a temporary tattoo with that number, or write it in permanent marker, then cover with clear fingernail polish. All these strategies will make sure that a theme park worker can connect you in an emergency.
- Discuss how to avoid getting lost in the first place. Remind children to keep eyes or hands on an adult at all times. Hold hands, if necessary. Remind kids not to run off, no matter how tempting that attraction or show might seem.
2. Clearly designate which parent has responsibility for which child at all times.
To help prevent your child from getting lost, clearly assign an adult with the responsibility for a child or children at any given moment. If you have more adults than children present on your trip, try to assign each adult one child to keep track of on the trip. Even if you have more children than adults, however, assign specific children to specific adults. You may find it much easier to keep an eye on the two specific children you have responsibility for than to keep eyes on three or four little ones bouncing around you excitedly. This method can also help prevent you from assuming that the other parent has a missing child, which will facilitate finding that child faster if he does wander off.
3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Hydration remains incredibly important to your overall health, especially on hot, sunny days spent outside. With so much to do and see, you might forget to drink water, especially if you do not bring a water bottle along with you. Many theme park workers have seen the end result of that choice many times: dehydration, sometimes including collapse. Collapsing due to dehydration can quickly put a damper on your theme park fun!
Instead, make sure every member of the family, including the kids, drinks plenty throughout the day. Most theme parks will provide free water refills in their big mugs or offer free cups of water to every member of the family at their concession stands. Try to drink eight ounces of water at least once every hour, if possible.
4. Follow the safety rules assigned to the rides.
Many parents have suffered the temptation to have their child “cheat” the restrictions on a roller coaster or other ride, especially when that child is just a hair too short. You may also feel that the rules do not apply to you, or that you can get away with cheating just a little bit: holding your hands outside a ride to catch the water or touch the decorations, for example.
Those safety rules, however, exist for a reason. If your child does not meet the minimum height requirement for a ride, the harness and safety equipment for that ride might not protect her adequately. Reaching out to touch something from a roller coaster or other fast-paced ride could cause injury to you or to the equipment, leading to a ride shutdown.
Read the rules assigned to each ride carefully before getting on. Follow the rules, and make sure your children do the same. Those rules do not exist to ruin your fun, but rather to make your theme park visit a safer experience for every member of the family.
5. Check in regularly.
Your family may choose to split up for your theme park adventure, especially if you have a large family or children of several different ages who want to check out different activities. One child wants to check out the fastest roller coaster in the park. Another wants to visit all the characters for pictures. Splitting up will allow everyone to get in the activities they want most.
Make sure, however, that you check in routinely, either by phone or by meeting back up in person. Make sure teens and preteens, in particular, check in every couple of hours. Allow some wiggle room: some rides require riders to leave their phones in the lockers, and lines may last longer than originally thought. If you do not hear from your children within a reasonable time frame, however, check in with park staff and start a search.
6. Layer on the sunscreen.
You know your kids need sunscreen when they head out to the beach. At theme parks, that layer of sunscreen remains just as important—and tourists in Nevada sometimes forget they’re in the middle of a desert, especially during the cooler months when a sunburn can sneak up on you.
Choose waterproof sunscreen for water parks or parks with water rides, and reapply regularly. If you split up members of the family, make sure that each group has a bottle of sunscreen with them and that they apply it as needed. Pay particular attention to part lines, the backs of necks, and the tops of shoulders.
Spray or apply sunscreen based on the maximum amount of skin that will show throughout the day. For example, if your children wear bathing suits under their clothing, make sure you apply sunscreen while they wear the bathing suit alone, not just the T-shirt and shorts they plan to wear early in the day. Reapply sunscreen when a layer of clothing comes off or after getting on water rides.
7. Encourage teens and preteens to put down their phones while walking.
At a theme park, with something new around every corner, teens and preteens may have their phones out and ready for the next photo or selfie. This strategy may allow them to capture the entire vacation, but it may also cause them to miss out on events happening right in front of them.
Encourage your teens and preteens to put their phones down while walking. They may choose to send text messages or check in on social media while standing in line, but they should look up from the device before walking. Paying attention to their surroundings could prevent them from running into another person or facing a serious accident in unfamiliar surroundings.
8. Report unsafe behavior if you see it.
Theme parks represent a novelty for your family. For theme park employees who have to work there every day, however, the novelty often wears off quickly. Theme park employees may choose, as a result, to engage in unsafe behavior, especially if they believe no one will notice. As a theme park guest, you should report any unsafe employee behavior that you notice.
This might include:
- A theme park employee operating a ride while using a cell phone. A quick glance down to check the time or send a message may not prevent proper ride operation. Staying focused on the phone to the exclusion of the ride, on the other hand, could cause employees to miss important safety violations or problems with the ride. Find a manager and report any employees that you observe paying more attention to their phones and personal devices than to the ride.
- A theme park employee who appears inebriated or on drugs. If you notice an employee behaving oddly, especially one that seems under the influence of drugs or alcohol, report it to the park management. Several other common concerns, including blood sugar highs or lows in a diabetic employee or heat exhaustion, can cause symptoms similar to those displayed by an inebriated employee. Reporting your concerns to management may help protect both the employee and other theme park guests.
- An employee who fails to adhere to safety precautions. Some employees may have different safety regulations than the ones faced by guests to the theme park. Other employees may simply choose to ignore those regulations. If you notice an employee ignoring safety regulations, report it to park management as soon as possible. Another park employee may tell you that the employee followed regulations put in place for their safety, or they may launch an investigation to help prevent potential dangers.
In addition to reporting unsafe behaviors in park employees, you may want to take note of any unsafe behaviors in other visitors to the park. You do not have to take personal responsibility for the behavior of other guests, but you may want to draw attention to particularly unsafe behaviors that could cause danger to you, your family, or other visitors.
9. Watch your stroller.
You have young children in your family, and a stroller makes it easier both to transport those children and to ensure that you have all the stuff you need to care for them. A stroller can also, however, cause danger to others around you. Use appropriate ramps for your stroller, and in crowded theme parks, make sure you have plenty of room around you. Do not run over other people or ram into them with the stroller. Keep an eye on the stroller, too, to make sure nobody tries to steal any items out of it.
10. Maintain a safe pace while walking.
Many visitors to theme parks get in a hurry. They cannot wait to reach the next attraction or to enjoy the next ride. As a result, they may move faster than usual or even run to their next goal.
Try to avoid running while in the parks. Not only can this increase your risk of injury, since you may trip, fall, or fail to notice obstacles around you, it can increase the risk of others, who do not expect you to run past them. Walk safely to your next destination. The rides will not disappear while you walk, and the length of the line will not change substantially.
Also, try to avoid stopping suddenly in crowded areas. If you need to stop, step off to the side, out of the immediate flow of traffic. Not only does this help keep you safer, it may prevent your children from getting run over by other zealous park visitors.
Visiting a theme park can be a regular family trip or a once-in-a-lifetime, blowout family vacation. Regardless of how often you visit, however, you must keep your safety and that of your family members in mind at all times. Many of our clients travel regularly with their families, and we want to increase the odds that they will all have safe, enjoyable vacations.
Michael T. Gibson P.A.
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814