Traveling with little ones is tough enough, regardless where you go, but when you are outnumbered and in a busy park, it can be downright daunting. Some things to consider before you choose to go it alone:
Bathroom breaks. Sooooo much easier when my husband can take my son into the bathroom. My solution: Men’s bathroom with strict orders. “Go directly to the urinal and don’t look at or talk to anyone. Come straight out and I’ll give you a healthy squirt of Purell.” Note: The Boardwalk at Hersheypark is the only area that offers family restrooms.
Forgotten items. I can’t count how many times I left something in the room. Instead of husband and kids forging ahead while I backtrack, I had to either lug the gang back with me or forgo the item altogether. (One questionable mama decision: As the shuttle bus pulled up to the Lodge, I remembered that I had forgotten the sunscreen. Instead of waiting a half hour for the next bus, I skipped the protection and opted for less hassle.)
Parking. Gigantic parking lots call for a divide-and-conquer technique: One adult drops other adult and kids off at the entrance then finds parking spot on other side of the universe. In this case, we all had to schlep. To add salt to the wound, I left my parking ticket in the car, so when it was time to get it validated inside Chocolate World, I was told I’d have to go back to my car to retrieve it and then bring it back again to be stamped! No thanks – I’d rather spring for the eight bucks.
Rides. Many rides fit two per seat. When it’s just us three, one person’s alone. When safety’s a concern, I had to sit with my little one, which scored zero points with my older one, who either sat all alone or – gulp – with a stranger. (I found out later that Hersheypark offers Kiddie Swap, where adults can take turns with each child. See www.hersheypa.com for details.).
Food and shopping. My husband and I usually split the task of getting cafeteria-style food. The kids and I scout out a table as he orders and pays for the food. He meets us at the table and – voila! – we eat. Alone, I had to juggle two squabbling kids, a wallet of money and a tray of food, all within the confines of a narrow line. And it was no fun scoping out a decent table with my hands full.
Privacy. There is no alone time whatsoever when you share one hotel room. I did the best I could, allowing downtime where they could do their thing while I sat and watched, like on the hotel playground or even as they assaulted each other with stuffed animals on the hotel beds. But any way you slice it, there is no chance to duck out and separate for even a few minutes. Too young to be left alone and too old to nap, my kids were with me around the clock. We’re talking major togetherness. At all times.