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A Carnie’s Guide On What To Bring To An Amusement Park

{The post What To Bring To An Amusement Park may contain affiliate links that I may earn a small commission when you click on or purchase from the links. This is at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own. You can learn more about this in my Disclosures & Disclaimers.}

You’ve got a park lined up to visit, ticket booked, and are now figuring out what to bring to an amusement park?

Hi. Welcome! You’ve found the right place.

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With over 620 parks in the United States to choose from and plan a vacation around, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to packing. But fear not, I’m here to help!

I’ve literally grown up going to amusement parks from infancy, riding roller coasters since I was three (yes, I was tall enough), and working at them since I was sixteen. So, I’ve got the tried-and-true rundown on what should be in your travel bag for your day at the amusement park.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time park goer, what you bring to a theme park can make or break your day. Something as simple and unassuming as a Ziploc bag can make all the difference on whether or not you’re returning to your car with a dead key remote.

So, let’s discuss what to bring to an amusement park to ensure a stress free, enjoyable trip!

(Note: Use the Table of Contents to jump straight to the theme park packing list!)

Related Reading: The Difference Between Theme Parks & Amusement Parks

Preparing For A Theme Park Trip

Before you even start packing your bags, it’s important you’ve already prepared your plans for your trip because factors from those plans can influence what you need to pack in your bags. That summertime hand fan might be moot when you actually need hand warmers for the winter.

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How Do You Prepare For A Theme Park?

To prepare for a theme park packing list, you ought to consider when you’re going, where you’re staying, who’s going, medical factors, and the park’s policies and procedures.

Here are some pointers to consider before you leave for the park:

Timing

Consider the time of year you’ll be visiting the park and seasonal weather. If it’s summer, expect high temperatures and plan to pack small towels, hand fans, and hats. If it’s the winter, expect cold temperatures and plan to pack gloves, ear mitts, and hand warmers. So forth and so on.

Where You’re Staying

Research where you’ll be staying to see if they offer any transportation to the park or any other helpful resources. If your hotel is just across the street from the amusement park, you won’t have to pack food or an extra change of clothes. You’ll be able to pop out the park for an hour or two and return back after lunch.

Who’s Going

Think about who will be joining you on the trip. If you’re going solo, you might prefer to keep your park bag light. If you’re going in a group, take into consideration what items they might need or prefer. If someone in your group doesn’t ride roller coasters, they’ll be able to hold onto the bag. If everyone’s riding, you might want to budget locker rentals into your trip expenses.

Medical Considerations

If you or anyone in your group has any medical considerations, be sure to plan accordingly. If there are any prescription medications, medical equipment, or medically necessary snacks and drinks–don’t forget to include them in your travel bag!

All parks are required to allow snacks, drinks, medical supply bags, and anything else medically necessary for your or your group regardless of if its non-medical equivalent is banned. Some parks don’t allow snacks and juices or bags after a certain time (usually Halloween season) but medical supplies are exempt from this!

The Park’s Website

Finally, research the park’s website for any information that can help you prepare for your trip. This may include details on their accessibility program, ride information, and even what food and drink options are available.

Different parks have different policies, so be sure to check the website of the park you’re visiting for the most accurate information! Some offer free locker rentals, so you don’t have to worry about avoiding taking a bag to avoid locker fees. Likewise, some parks don’t mind you bringing in outside food so you can pack a lunch.

By preparing ahead of time, you can have a better idea at what you need to include on your theme park packing list for a smoother, more enjoyable experience at the park.

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Should You Bring A Bag To A Theme Park?

The simple answer is yes. The best way to prepare for a theme park day is by bringing a bag. Here’s why:

Essential Items

There are several essential items that you will need throughout the day, such as your photo ID, credit/debit card (most parks are cashless), and sunscreen. Bringing a bag allows you to keep all of these items in one place, so you’re not scrambling to find them when you need them.

Water Rides

If you’re planning on going on water rides at the park, you’ll need to keep your phone and other valuables safe from water damage. Bringing a waterproof bag or putting your belongings in a Ziploc bag will ensure they don’t get wet.

Comfort

Depending on how long you plan on staying at the park, you’ll likely accumulate a lot of items throughout the day, such as souvenirs and food and drink containers. Having a bag to put everything in will keep you comfortable and hands-free, allowing you to enjoy the park to the fullest.

Note: If you’re going to the amusement park on your own, you may be fine without bringing a bag. Generally, I only ever take my ID, phone, and keys (and payment if I anticipate buying anything). But, if you have more items that you need or would like to bring, then you’ll want to take a bag.

On the bag subject…

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What Is The Best Bag To Take To An Amusement Park?

I would recommend taking a small backpack or drawstring bag to an amusement park. They’re not too burly and bulky to tote around, but efficient in hauling your gear without getting cluttered or obnoxious.

But ultimately, there’s a type of bag for what suits your preferences and needs, so we can touch on those.

When choosing a bag for your theme park trip, you want something that is comfortable, easy to carry, and has enough space to carry all of your essential items. And, make sure to consider the type of rides you’ll be going on and any restrictions the park may have on bag sizes!

Here are some of the best bag options:

Backpack

A backpack is a great option for a theme park. It’s comfortable to wear, distributes the weight of your belongings evenly across your back, and can carry the most items within it. Look for a backpack with several compartments to keep your items organized and easy to find.

Crossbody Bag

A crossbody bag can also be a great option. It’s comfortable to wear and keeps your items close to your body, making them less likely to get lost or stolen. Look for a crossbody bag with a zipper closure to keep your items secure.

Fanny Pack

A fanny pack is a popular choice for theme parks. It keeps your items close to your body and allows for easy access to your belongings. Look for a fanny pack with several compartments to keep your items organized. Just keep in mind that some parks are banning them from being worn on rides.

Drawstring Bag

A drawstring bag is a lightweight and easy-to-carry option. It’s great for carrying smaller items and souvenirs. Try to get a drawstring bag with a water-resistant material to protect your belongings from water rides.

Overall, a backpack is likely the best option for comfort and carrying capacity, but choose the bag that’s most comfortable and suitable for your needs!

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What Food To Pack For A Theme Park?

Packing food for your theme park day is a great way to save money and ensure that you have snacks and meals that you’ll enjoy. Some parks even have picnic areas for people who have brought their food.

However, a number of parks don’t allow outside food to be brought in, so you’ll have to picnic from your car. In which case, make sure you pack non-perishable bites or bring a cooler to keep your lunch from spoiling!

Here are some ideas:

Non-Perishable Snacks

Non-perishable snacks, such as granola bars, trail mix, or fruit snacks are a great option for the park. These snacks won’t spoil if left in a hot car until you’re ready to eat.

Sandwiches & Wraps

If you’re looking for something more substantial, sandwiches or wraps are easy to pack and won’t spoil if left in a cooler or insulated bag. Opt for protein-rich fillings like turkey or peanut butter to keep you satisfied throughout the day.

Drinks

Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. But also note that all parks offer free water cups at any drink stand or restaurant! If you’re looking for something with a little flavor for your personal picnic, consider packing sports drinks or drink mixes that can easily be added to water bottles.

Medicinal Snacks

If you or anyone in your group has a medical condition that requires specific snacks, be sure to pack those. For example, if someone in your group has low blood sugar, bring a juice box to prevent hypoglycemia.

It’s important to note that while some parks do not allow outside food to be brought into the park, snacks and drinks for medical purposes are allowed, so don’t hesitate to pack those!

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The Theme Park Packing List

Now that we’ve gone over how to create your theme park packing list, what bag to take, and what food to pack–let’s dive into the comprehensive list of what to bring to a theme park!

This will be chunked into the quick, easy reference theme park packing list and a brief rundown of recommendations for each.

On to the list!

What To Bring To An Amusement Park?

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Photo ID

Naturally, it’s always good to have your ID on you. Plus, if you’re of age, you’ll need it to buy drinks. Some parks mandate the ID check regardless of how old you are, so don’t get stuck without it.

Credit/Debit Card

Most parks have gone cashless now. Usually, these parks have a machine that you can deposit cash into and it’ll give you a card holding that amount. But, it’s simpler to just take your own credit/debit card with you to use.

Lanyard/Wallet

Either a wallet or lanyard to hold your ID, payment, and ticket or pass in. I’ve tagged lanyard because those can be easier to utilize if you’re packing light. Just tuck your lanyard into your shirt before riding the roller coasters and you won’t have to worry about your wallet slipping out of your pocket.

JMY has a waterproof lanyard you can tuck your ID and ticket into as well as clip you car keys to. It comes in over a dozen different styles and includes a 12 month satisfaction guarantee warranty, so you can get a full refund for it for up to a year after purchase if you don’t like it.

Ziploc Bag

These can be used for water rides or if it rains. Your phone, charger, car keys, payment, and anything else you want to keep dry should be put in the Ziploc bag for safe (dry) keeping. And even if you don’t think you’ll be riding any water rides, take one because you’d rather have it and not need it than otherwise!

You can get a 42 count box of Ziploc bags for just a few dollars if you don’t already have some in your pantry. With these being sold through Amazon, you’re eligible for a return, refund, or replacement anytime within the first 30 days.

Hand Towel/Fan

Whether it’s an electric hand fan or a traditional one that pops open (like we used in Ripper Row), take something to keep you cool when you’re out in the heat! Plus, a small hand towel doesn’t hurt to have to keep sweat, or log flume water, at bay.

Maitys sells a pair of traditional fans. And, you’d best believe I ordered some for myself to bask in good ole fashioned Lady of the Night nostalgia and because they really are nice for cooling you off (just ask Jack the Ripper). Bonus in that they are also really fun to whip too, but I’ll digress. They also come with a 30 day return, refund, or replacement offer.

Portable Phone Charger

Even if your phone is typically a champion in holding battery, amusement parks are a champion at draining that battery (and obliterating cell signal). You don’t want to be stuck with a dead phone by late afternoon!

This bestselling portable charger by Anker is the slimmest and lightest with a battery capacity of 10,000mAh. It has a safety system that includes overcharge protection, short circuit protection, and temperature control. The charger also come with an 18 month warranty, a 30 day return, refund, or replacement guarantee, and customer service.

Sunglasses & Glasses Strap

Sunglasses come in handy during a full day out in the sun! And, be sure to snag a glasses strap too so you don’t lose a hold of them. Even if they’re tight fitting, the tea cups might send them on a spin.

You can get a pack of sturdy glasses straps from SIGONNA. These have a unique non-slip clip loop to prevent glasses from falling and have an adjustable length. The glasses straps are also part of the 30 day return, refund, or replacement offer and include a lifetime warranty.

Sunscreen

Similarly, a full day in the sun also warrants sunscreen! Whether you tan or burn, sunscreen will help shield your skin from the rays. It’ll help prevent skin cancer, sunspots, and premature aging.

Sun Bum has a 50 SPF sunscreen lotion that’s vegan, cruelty free, and offers UVA/UVB protection. And no it doesn’t leave a white, ghostly film on your skin and it’s not greasy. This sunscreen is the best I’ve found and is game changer if you’re prone to burning easily! Plus, it’s eligible for return, refund, or replacement within 30 days.

Comfortable Shoes

You’re going to be doing a lot of walking throughout your day at the amusement park. And, your trip is not the time to try out that new pair of shoes. Wear something that’s broken in and comfortable so your feet won’t be too sore at the end of the day.

Blister Relief

Maybe your favorite pair of shoes that never gave you blisters before suddenly met their match walking around the park all day or you’re just prone to getting them. All the same, bring a blister relief treatment–whether that’s blister cushions to prevent them or a simple tube of Vaseline and gauze to treat them.

Dr. Scholl’s has a moleskin padding roll that’s great for both preventing blisters and shielding existing blisters. I always use it for park trips and whenever I’m performing. Amusement park grounds (whether it’s tarmac or aggregate) can be unforgiving and the moleskin is a skin saver! It’s also included in the 30 day return, refund, or replacement offer.

Medications

Every park has a health services station somewhere inside the park that typically have generic over the counter medications. So if you get a headache, just ask an employee directions to the first aid spot and they’ll be able to help you out there.

But, if you have any specific medications that you need regularly, don’t forget to pack them! Operate with the rather have and not need than otherwise mantra. Pack your meds!

Hand Sanitizer

After a day around the park, innately touching railings or merchandise, have some hand sanitizer on hand for once you’ve gotten your food and sit down to eat! Amusement parks are germy places.

You can get a 6 pack of Purell hand sanitizers that has vitamin E and aloe so your skin doesn’t dry out. The pack is eligible for a refund or replacement.

Hand Lotion

Going with the hand sanitizer, bring hand lotion too so your skin doesn’t dry out. And if it’s the cooler seasons, the air will likewise dry out your hands. It never hurts to have a little bottle of lotion on hand!

You can snag a coconut and honey hand cream from JR Watkins for a couple dollars. It’s a shea butter, cocoa butter, and avocado oil blend that’s USA made and cruelty free! And when you get it from Amazon, you can return it for a refund or have it replaced within 30 days of receipt.

Rain Poncho

If you’re not fond of getting wet or can’t afford to get your recently straightened hair frizzed up, pack a disposable poncho in case the weather forecast calls for anything but shine. Parks often sell ponchos when it rains, but they’ll be more expensive than they’re worth.

Hagon PRO has a 5 pack of disposable rain ponchos that are made from nature-friendly PE material. They are some of the largest and most lightweight ponchos and are small enough (folded up) to tuck in your wallet. These are often available on sale through that link and include the 30 day return, refund, or replacement policy.

Contact Lens Case

Unless your eyes are made of steel and couldn’t be bothered with scratched contact lenses, pack your contact lens case and even a small bottle of solution in case you need to take your contacts out at anytime.

Hair Bands

Hair bands are always nifty to have! If you have long hair, you might do a double take in the mirror after riding roller coasters. Also, the summer heat might make you second guess wearing your hair down.

Because hair bands are notorious for getting lost in a millisecond, you can get a 40 pack set of hair bands from Zulfaye. They’re thick and non-slip so they won’t immediately snap or snag your hair. They’re also part of the 30 day return, refund, or replacement offer.

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Additional Tips and FAQs

Before we wrap up, let’s go over some additional tips and answer some common questions about visiting amusement parks:

What Not To Bring To An Amusement Park?

To ensure safety and abide by park policies, avoid bringing items such as weapons, alcohol, and drugs, as well as any prohibited items additionally listed in the park’s policies. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go to prevent getting turned away at the security checkpoint.

Where Do You Put Your Phone When Riding Roller Coasters?

When riding roller coasters, put your phone in a closed pocket, leave it in a locker, or with a non-rider. And, make sure any pockets you use can close securely so your phone doesn’t accidentally fall out.

Yes, many people think there unsealed pockets will be tight enough to hold their phones or that because they rode one roller coaster before without it falling out, it won’t fall out the next time either–I couldn’t exaggerate the number of phones busted on show building floors because the phone fell out that time. If they fall from an outdoor coaster in the woods, good luck hoping a maintenance person will find it.

I emphasize this point because many people have been seriously injured by another rider’s phone falling out (each word is a different case/link). So, be kind. Save your phone and another person’s wellbeing.

Should You Bring a Water Bottle?

Theme parks have free cups of water at any food stand or restaurant that serves drinks. However, if you’re concerned about staying hydrated (which you should be), bring a refillable water bottle that you can fill up throughout the day.

Can I Bring My Bag On A Roller Coaster?

No, you can’t bring your bag on a roller coaster. It’s considered a loose article and loose articles are not permitted on attractions for the same reasons you shouldn’t take your phone on a roller coaster. Even if it’s a small bag or fanny pack, parks do not allow them on thrill rides.

Some rides have cubbies where you can store your bag during the ride. With that route, you have to be very trusting of other park guests. Ride ops can’t keep track of what bag belongs to who. So, if someone grabs your bag while you’re riding, you’ll have to formally report it stolen.

Most rides require that you leave your bag in a locker or with a non-rider, so be sure to check the park policies before you go.

Do Theme Parks Have Dress Codes?

Most parks don’t have specific dress codes beyond requiring shirts, bottoms, and shoes. Just be sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate attire!

Avoid wearing any accessories or clothing that could get caught on rides and note that profanity or vulgar designs on your clothes might get you turned away at the entry gate.

Can You Bring Outside Food into the Park?

Some parks allow it, while others have restrictions on what you can bring. Check the park’s website to see what their policies are. At worse case, you can head out to your car to eat a packed lunch and then head back into the park.

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Summary

An enjoyable theme park trip comes down to being prepared, and that includes what you bring with you. By bringing the right bag, packing the right foods (if desired), and prepping ahead of time, you can guarantee a fun and stress free day at the park.

Key points and takeaways:

  • Bring a bag (if you’re not going solo) to the park to keep your essential items close and organized.
  • Choose a comfortable bag that’s suitable for your needs, with enough space for all your items.
  • Pack non-perishable snacks or sandwiches, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Create a customized theme park packing list tailored to you and your group based on the list above.
  • Have a grand time at the park and ride a few roller coasters for me!

With this guide as your reference, don’t stress about your trip planning or get caught in the park with a dead phone battery. Make a checklist, pack your park bag, and enjoy the rides!

Have a great trip!

What amusement park are you currently packing up to visit?

For more amusement park guides, you can also check out:

Thanks for reading!

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