Travel: Theme Park dos and don'ts

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The Independent Travel
Get a map of the park before you go in so that you can study the layout. Most parks are divided into different lands. If you're there for just a day, it's worth concentrating on one or two lands that appeal to you most.

If you're touring with small children check out the suitability of the ride before you agree to take them. Even the most tame-sounding rides such as Snow White at Disneyland Paris can be terrifying for the under- fives. Some rollercoasters also look a lot tamer than they actually are.

Head straight for the ride that you most want to try. Crowds build up very quickly and the queues are bound to be bigger later in the day. Queueing for rides is also misleading as the lines snake around so they are usually much longer than they look. If in doubt, ask someone who works there just how long you can expect to be kept waiting.

Take in some small bottles of water and snacks - the cost of these at theme parks really mounts up, as do the queues for the refreshment kiosks.

Pace your day - more than a couple of hours in a theme park can be exhausting for even the fittest of people. Aim to do the highlights of the park rather than every single ride on offer. Take advantage of the shows on offer as this is a chance to rest your feet. The shows and parades are often of a high standard and may even turn out to be the highlight of the day.

Take an early or late lunch in order to avoid the queues. Or slow down the pace of the day by enjoying a leisurely picnic - many of the parks are actually set in beautifully landscaped grounds.

Don't load yourself down with too much to carry as you're going to be on your feet for most of the day. Make use of lockers which you usually find at the entrance to the park so that you can leave your belongings or any shopping you've bought. If you're touring with under-fives, it's also worth hiring a stroller but as these usually don't come with any sort of locking device, try to set yours apart by tying a brightly-coloured ribbon or piece of clothing round it.

In the seething crowds of a theme park it's easy to become parted from friends and children. Make sure you arrange a rendezvous at the start of the day and attach some sort of identification tag on the kids.

Many parks have a monorail or train ride around the perimeter of the park. This is a good ride to do in the morning as it will acquaint you with the layout and help you get your bearings. It's also a chance to rest weary legs later in the day.

Wet rides are great fun on hot days but they are often more soaking than splash rides. If you are planning to do some wet rides, come equipped with a small towel and change of clothing.