In the “Less Stress, More Happiness” chapter of Kids First, Diabetes Second, there are several sections about “Summer Fun.” I share how we navigate amusement parks, water parks, camping, and travel. We have some of these activities planned for our family this summer. My son put “going to an amusement park” on his summer bucket list this year.
I love going to amusement parks in the summer. As a kid, I would ride the coasters over and over again. We have introduced our kids to the thrill of the amusement park, and they can’t wait to go again. If you do a little planning ahead, you will have an enjoyable day. Visit the park’s website and e-mail or call their guest services office to ask about specifics regarding accommodations that can be made for people with diabetes. I think you will find they want to be helpful, so you have a great experience. You may or may not need a letter from the doctor stating that the child has a medical condition and needs special accommodations.
Ask about passes for people with disabilities that allow you to jump to the front of lines or provide you with a time to return so that you aren’t standing in lines. Sometimes these passes only work for the larger rides and coasters.
(Edited to add: we don’t ask for a guest assistance pass to get any special favoritism. I know that Q tends to go low if she standing in line for long periods of time in the heat. When we were at Disney, our pass provided us a shady place to wait, which worked out well.)
I suggest stopping by guest services after entering the park. They can give you a map with medical stations circled. You can obtain the medical accommodation pass for your family, and they can place a sticker on your supply bag that identifies it as containing medical supplies. Also, while many parks allow no outside food or drinks, a person with diabetes should be able to bring in snacks and drinks.
I like to pack a couple of water bottles that we can refill throughout the day to stay hydrated. Remember, there is a lot of blacktop at amusement parks, which turns up the heat! Pack enough food to cover regular snack times, plus a few extras in case you need them to recover from lows. I also pack a few extras for other family members. Applesauce pouches and organic fruit strips hold up well in a backpack or cooler. Food and drinks can be expensive at amusement parks, and you don’t want to pay $3 or $4 for a snack to treat a blood sugar low. When you dine at parks, they probably won’t have carb counts available. If you pull up The CalorieKing app on your phone (or toss the paperback in your backpack), you can make a good guess.
You may be wondering what to do with your diabetes supply bag when you are on the rides. On some rides, you can keep your bag with you, but for others it’s not safe because it will obstruct seatbelts or could fly out of the car. There is usually a set of cubbies or a basket where you can put your supply bag while you’re on a ride. We also had guest services put a sticker on our supply bag saying that it contained medical supplies. In case it was lost, it would be more likely to be returned to the office and reunited with us.
Blood sugar might also be on a rollercoaster while you are at amusement parks. Adrenaline can cause high blood sugar, but all that walking can cause lows! I suggest checking blood sugar regularly and being proactive. Staying hydrated and sticking somewhat closely to regular meal and snack times will also help. During our last amusement park trip, Q had a perfect 100 come up on the meter!
If you’d like to learn more about the book, you can read more on the Kids First, Diabetes Second book page. It’s available widely in print and as an eBook from book sellers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and IndieBound. And if you do read it and find it to be a valuable resource, I would greatly appreciate if you could write a review on any of the online retail sites. Thanks!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to booksellers.
Please remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decisions for your own child.
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