Theme parks are often synonymous with deep fried snacks, cotton candy and hot dogs (along with their rides and attractions). So, feeding your family healthy foods while visiting an amusement park might seem like a far stretch. But, if there’s a will, there’s a way.
We recently took three young children to Canada’s Wonderland and while we allow them to indulge, we wanted a day filled with decent food choices.
Here are our FIVE tips to eating healthy at amusement parks.
(1) Check out the restaurant and kiosk options before you visit the park. That way you know what you need to pack with you to accompany food that you can get on property. Canada’s Wonderland offers a variety of food (from Burgers and beers to fresh sandwiches and Mac ‘n cheese). Once you know what’s available at the park, simply bring anything additional you might need for your little ones.
(2) Map out your route ahead of time. If you know you want to eat at a fresh sandwich shop, plan your morning activities so that you end up near the kiosk. If you wind up on the other side of the park at mealtime, you’ll be more tempted to buy what’s convenient. We started in Snoopy Land (on the right side of the mountain if you’re looking at a map) and ended at the Subway sandwich shop in Kidz Ville.
(3) Bring healthy snacks. If you’re planning on indulging in some Hot Buffalo Chicken strips, a funnel cake, or a burger for lunch, then bring in healthy snacks to balance it all out. Slice up some veggies, grab some grapes, or bring in some crackers and cheese cubes. The kids will enjoy fueling up as in between areas. Chances are, the kids will be so excited about the experience that they won’t scrutinize the food as much as normal.
(4) Pack a picnic and leave the cooler in your car. If you’re set on staying away from park food, you can bring a cooler with your food for your family. The key here is that you’ll have to exit the park and eat outside of the grounds (a lot of people set up collapsible chairs near their vehicle and picnic in the parking area. This can work if your kids are a bit older. But if they’re small/young, it’s quite a big distance to get back to your car and a lot of children won’t want to interrupt the day to leave the park and come back in.
(5) If you’re dealing with a specific allergy or health concern, you can always contact the theme park before buying your passes. For example, you can contact guest services (for Canada’s Wonderland: (905) 832-8131 and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org) with any specific dietary needs or questions.
Remember, kids are much more intuitive than adults in terms of food and nutritional needs. They can connect the dots between feeling sick and food, if you educate them. They often haven’t yet forced themselves to eat when they’re full (like most adults). Once their stomachs start churning and they fill sick, they will naturally put a halt to the junk. Read more on this from nutrition expert, Wife of a Grocer, who guest posts about food and travel.