Navigating Amusement Parks with Food Allergies

Navigating Amusement Parks with Food Allergies

by Rachel Hayden, Mom vs. Food Allergy

Summertime and food allergies can be especially difficult to navigate, particularly because it can be such a spontaneous time of year. At times I feel that it is harder to manage than during winter holidays. Spontaneity or not, food allergies are a consistent challenge to our summer fun, but I’ve come to relax after a few years of successfully visiting our local amusement park. We’re lucky enough to live close to a large amusement park, so we enjoy several visits every summer. Here are my tips for successfully enjoying a visit yourself.

  1. Take your own food and drinks. Every time we go I pack our own food, and only once have we been questioned about our cooler. We checked in with the Guest Services, showed them our food and Epi-Pens, explained our food allergies and we were on our way to enjoy the day. Be sure to pack FUN food so your child won’t feel left out, because everyone else is eating junk food at the park, too. Take plenty of snacks so you don’t run out.
  2. Ask about a Family Care Center. Our amusement park has a Family Care Center in the kid area of the park. It has a refrigerator and microwave where we can store and warm food for meal times. There is even a clean eating area that we can use rather than sticky, allergen covered tables elsewhere in the park. Check to see if your location has something similar.
  3. Carry epinephrine auto-injectors, inhalers and wipes. ALWAYS carry TWO epinephrine auto-injectors, and keep them cool in the heat using products like the FRIO carrying case.  Wipes are handy for cleaning tables and hands before and after eating. They are also great for quickly wiping down rides if you’re nervous. Don’t forget asthma inhalers as there are often extra aromas that may affect asthma.
  4. Wear a Medical ID/Contact Info/T-shirt. I struggle with getting my son to wear a medial ID, but he’s old enough to not accept food from a stranger. I do, however, write my cell phone number on our kids’ arms with a Sharpie marker. In the event one of them got lost, they have my phone number. I also try to have him wear a food allergy alert t-shirt for extra precaution. 
  5. Call ahead. Definitely call ahead to ask any questions you may have about possible safe food in the park, or their rules on bringing in food, etc… 
  6. Go on a weekday and take friends or family. Weekdays are usually less busy, especially in the morning. Avoid holidays and weekends if you can to dodge huge crowds that may increase your anxiety. If you can, take friends or family with you to be helping hands and extra eyes to prevent accidental reactions. 

Here are a few more tips to make the day easier and more enjoyable:

  • wear sunscreen
  • take a stroller to carry your cooler, water bottles, etc…
  • dress your kids in the same color to find them easier
  • take lunch into the park with you, keep a cooler of food in the car for dinner (check on park re-entry rules)
  • locate the First Aid Station for emergencies
  • use a waterproof Epi-Pen case if you plan on riding water rides

By taking basic precautions and planning ahead, most food allergy families should be able to easily navigate amusement parks with no problems. If you or your child has airborne allergies to foods, or severe contact reactions, please consult with your doctor first. I hope you enjoy your summer and have fun trips to amusement parks, zoos, and water parks!

About the Author:
Rachel Hayden is the creator and author of the blog Mom Vs. Food Allergy, and a homeschooling mom to Nathan and Julia. Nathan has asthma and food allergies to dairy, egg, peanut, carrot, celery, pumpkin, and olive. She lives in Ohio with her husband and children, and is actively involved in their food allergy support group in Dayton, Ohio called FEAT (Families Educating Allergies/Asthma Together).  She is also a No Nuts Moms Group Support Group Leader in Dayton. 

For more about Rachel, visit her Web site, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.