Let’s start with a joke. How is Viagra like Disneyworld? You have to wait an hour for a two minute ride. Amusement parks offer great fun for children and adults alike, but there are a lot of small issues with them that can really detract from your fun. Let’s look at a few tips that can help you get the most fun from your family’s day at the park.

1.     Avoid Holiday Weekends Like the Plague: Probably the most frustrating thing about amusement parks is the long lines waiting to get on the ride of your choice. Holiday weekends are the park’s busiest times, so those long lines and long waits are worse than usual. Planning your trip for less busy times can mean less time waiting in queues and more time screaming your lungs out on roller coasters. Try this: plan your family’s amusement park trip for the weekend before Spring Break starts, and do something else during your kids’ week off from school. Also, park employees report that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the slowest days, so that means even less corwds and lines.

2.     Pack a Picnic Lunch: Some parks allow you to bring your own food and drinks along; most, however, do not. Food and drink prices inside of amusement parks are astronomical, so buying from concessions can quickly blow your budget. Here are some ideas for how to make the trip more economical. First, have your wife break outher biggest granny purse and load up on juice boxes. They won’t stay cold, but they cost far less at your local convenience store than at a park concession stand. Another tip is to pack a picnic lunch in a cooler and leave it in the car. Get your hand stamped on the way out so you can get back in, and have lunch in the parking lot.

3.     Check Them Out on the Web: Pretty much every amusement park has a website these days, and you can find tons of information that will be helpful there. Park maps that you download and print can be a real time saver. You can plan your park visit around the rides you really want to hit, and make notes on your printed map for the best routes from one place to another. Another great feature on the websites is tickets that are cheaper than the gate price. Be sure to look for group discounts and specials that are on the web.

4.     Start at the Back of the Park: Most of the crowds will rush to get into line at the first ride they see, which means lines will fill up quickest at the front of the park. When you bypass all of that and move towards the back, you will find many great rides have no lines at all. Then, as everyone else is moving toward the back, you will be moving towards the front. You will hit a taffic jam somewhere around the middle of the park, but once you are passed that, you will find that you encounter less crowds once you get towards the front of the park once again.

5.     Hit the Most Popular Rides First or Last: the parks newest and best rides will have lines all day long, so there is no way to avoid lines all together. By hitting these rides right when the park opens, or shortly before it closes, you minimize the wait times.

6.     Bring Something to Keep You Occupied During Waits: A word search or Sudoku book and a pencil can be great. A PSP or iPod Touch for games, although the battery will probably not last you all day. These are just a couple of ideas of things you can do to keep yourself busy when you are standing in long lines waiting for your turn on the ride. By having something onhand to distract you from the long lines and burning heat, you will find yourself wondering where the time (an line) went when the attendant is locking you into your seat for the thrill ride of your life.

By planning ahead, you can save you and your family a lot of time and frustration when you visit an amusement park. By cutting out as much wasted time and frustration as possible, you will the most fun possible from your trip. And a trip to an amusement park should be fun, right?