11 Things to Keep in Mind When Going to a Cedar Fair Park (Or Any Other Theme Park)

Happy New Year everyone! King’s Dominion and Carowinds have recently announced that they are now all year-round parks! This means they will be open on select days from January through December! With this in mind, I believe now is a good time to talk about ten things to keep in mind while visiting Cedar Fair parks. Some of these rules can easily apply to any theme park, however, because my focus is primarily on Cedar Fair, I cannot speak for all theme parks. Without further ado, here are 11 things to keep in mind when going to a Cedar Fair Park (or any other theme parks)!

11. Download the official app.

Yes, I know: another app to download just to get basic information? Sadly, due to COVID, among other issues, many theme parks have discontinued the use of paper maps. However, trust me when I say that Cedar Fair theme park apps are super helpful! Not only does the app contain a map of the park, but also ride times and height requirements! They also have a GPS that will direct you to exactly where you want to go! During Haunt at King’s Dominion, the app also has a list of haunted mazes and attractions and where to find them! These apps are super helpful and will save a lot of time and grief!

(Photo from PointBuzz)

10. Consult Ride Information Signs

Whether you have children, have health issues, or are pregnant, it is super important that you read the signs posted at the entrance and exit of every ride! Ride information signs include:

a.) height requirements

b.) whether or not a child has to be accompanied by a parent 

c.) medical warnings

d.) whether or not bags can be carried onto the ride

e.) Cell phone/technology usage

I have witnessed so many people get short with ride operators because of the following issues listed above. For the sake of your time and patience, please read the ride signs before entering the line! 

9. Height Wristbands

This rule closely relates to #9. I cannot stress this enough, please get your child a wristband! If they don’t like it on their wrists, they can also go on the leg. For ride operators, measuring every single child can be challenging, especially when a child teeters between two particular height lines! With a wristband, your child will not have to be measured and the operator can quickly make a decision whether or not it’s safe to ride. Wristbands will be available at Guest Services as well as every ride. Disclaimer: please do not try to put a falsely measured height band on your child. A ride operator still has the authority to deny your children ride access if they discover your child has the wrong wristband. If this occurs, you will likely be directed to guest services to get the correct wristband. Please also be aware that there are different wristbands between the main portion of the park and the water park! For example, King’s Dominion has solid color bands, while Soak City has striped bands. This is due to wearing shoes in the main park compared to the water park where shoes are not commonly worn on rides. Thus, heights will be slightly different. 

8. Bathing Suit Dress Code

This primarily applies to the Summertime when both the main park and water park are open simultaneously. This also mostly applies to theme parks with adjacent water parks such as King’s Dominion, Knotts Berry Farm, King’s Island, etc. Rides tend to get extremely hot when in direct sunlight, which can lead to burning of the skin. Thus, there is a dress code in place for the guest’s safety when wearing swimwear. Essentially:

a.) Men and boys must be wearing shirts and pants.

b.) Women and girls must wear pants.

c.) ALL GUESTS must be wearing shoes at all times during a ride! I understand that you may have infants or toddlers that like to be barefooted or with socks-only. However, this is strictly prohibited in a ride-area! 

d.) Swimming goggles must be removed before boarding a ride.

7. Mask dress code 

This rule is primarily for Halloween events. There is a dress code in place for the safety of both guests and actors during Halloween events. Tensions can rise fast: It’s dark, it’s hard to see, plague doctors, clowns, and zombies are terrifying and can trigger a fight-or-flight response. In addition, some guests tend to get unruly during this time and want to cause trouble. If guests come into the park in full costume and makeup, others will get confused who are the trained actors and who are visitors. Essentially, the rules are as follows:

a.) Guests may not wear a full-face mask. Half-masks are permitted.

b.) Guests are not allowed to wear a full-face of costume makeup. If you do, you will be forced to wipe half of it off before entering the park. 

I have seen some truly beautiful and impressive monster make-up that takes a lot of time and effort to apply. Let’s not waste all that work. 

6. Guests with Disabilities Pass

These passes are not often talked about, and are awesome tools! Guests with Disabilities passes allow those who are highly-stimulated by crowds, have injuries, or other conditions, to bypass the line of a ride. For example, if you are confined to a wheelchair and it cannot fit in the ride line, you can enter the ride through the exit, and a ride operator will tend to you. Sometimes there are even elevators you can use! All you have to do is go to Guest Services, and they will assemble your Guest with Disabilities pass. This pass will also contain information on which attractions you are able to ride to save both you and the ride operators time and patience. Disclaimers:

a.) This does not function as a fast-pass. When the ride is busy, it is likely you have to wait equally as long as everyone else. 

b.) You will need your group to assist you in and out of the ride. These party members will be included on your Guest with Disabilities pass. 

5. Children in distress cannot be forced to ride

I get it, a lot of children just need to ride the ride in order to realize, “It’s not so bad!” However, ride operators are prohibited from starting or continuing the ride when there is a guest in distress. Even if a parent insists the child will be fine, it is strictly against park policy. Please keep this in mind when taking your child through a line.

4. Parent Swap Policy

Parents, does your child want to ride with both you and your spouse but the car can only allow two people? There is a solution! Simply enter the line and ask the ride operator about the parent swap policy! This allows the child to ride once with one parent. Then, when the ride ends, the two parents can swap places, and the child can go again! Please remember, this policy only applies if one or both parents are already in the line with the child! This is not a valid method to bypass the line! 

3. Be respectful to Ride Operators and other employees! 

I cannot stress this enough: PLEASE be respectful to ride operators and other associates! They are not your servants, and they cannot obey your every wish. They value your safety (and their jobs) over your qualms. Ride Operations is a tiring job: they are required to make split-second decisions, responsible for guest safety, and spend long hours in extreme temperatures. While it is rewarding, it is also tiring. Follow the rules listed here, and you shouldn’t have any issue with them. 

Portrait of a happy family buying food at an amusement park – lifestyle concepts

2. Encourage praise and rewards! 

I cannot speak for other Cedar Fair parks, however King’s Dominion began a reward system in 2021 where employees can receive coupons for free things ranging from admission to extra-fee rides, to a free soft-serve ice cream. If you have had a great experience with an Associate, find a supervisor (they will be wearing different uniforms compared to regular employees) and speak to them about it. No good deed should go unrewarded! 

Young modern woman working from home, using laptop

1.Read up on the park before visiting!

This is a common issue I see at every park. Guests come visit the park blind and understand little of how they work. They do not understand rules and regulations, extra fees for special rides or parking, park hours, or even regular rides being free with admission. Please go to the theme park’s website, check their calendar for hours and special events. Also be aware of weather forecasts. Most rides will close during severe weather. If the forecast remains grim the whole day, the park may close completely and keep your ticket valid for another day. Unless you have a certain pass, parking will almost always require a fee ranging from $25-$30. There are also kennels available for pets that cannot enter the park. If you do not know where to start looking, this list is a good jumping off point!

Theme parks are incredible experiences that can create amazing memories with loved ones. But it can also be a very stressful affair. Children have short attention spans, have quick energy burn out, are easily excitable, and are not developed enough to understand directions that adults can. So let’s take the time to do our research to reduce stress so we can focus on enjoying time with our families.

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