Survival guide: Making the most out of a day at an amusement park

People ride a roller coaster at dusk at the Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday, July 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — A day in an amusement park is not a walk in the park...unless you properly prepare.

There are some steps you can take before riding the coasters and eating the funnel cakes that will make your trip a whole lot easier.

  • Buy tickets online: Theme park tickets are always cheaper online, and it's just one more line you can avoid once you get to the park.
  • If available, download the park's app: Get information like wait times and maps to help you plan your day. Some apps even let you know if a ride has broken down.
  • Have a game plan: Don't be the group that waits in line for an hour, only to discover someone in your party doesn't meet a height or weight standard. Check that info for each ride either before the trip or right when you get there so you don't waste any time. It's also a god idea to take a refillable water bottle to save money.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Avoid flip flops. After 10 minutes of walking, you'll likely regret it. Always go with comfort over style.

Don't think you have to go to Disney World or Universal Studios to experience a great theme park. There are plenty in the Midwest that will satisfy the thrill seeker.

There are eight theme parks within a five-hour drive from Indy. With some opening in March and April, it's not too early to start your planning.

15 favorite Midwest amusement parks:

  1. Cedar Point: Sandusky, Ohio
  2. Six Flags Great America: Gurnee, Illinois
  3. Holiday World and Splashin' Safari: Santa Claus, Indiana
  4. Silver Dollar City: Branson, Missouri
  5. Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park: Wisconsin Dells
  6. Six Flags St. Louis: Eureka, Missouri
  7. Valleyfair: Shakopee, Minnesota
  8. Arnolds Park: Arnolds Park, Iowa
  9. Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun: Kansas City, Missouri
  10. Michigan's Adventure: Muskegon, Michigan
  11. Adventureland: Altoona, Iowa
  12. Kings Island: Mason, Ohio
  13. Nickelodeon Universe: Bloomington, Minnesota
  14. Wisconsin: Bay Beach: Green Bay, Wisconsin
  15. Indiana Beach: Monticello, Indiana

Source: MidwestLiving

According to MidwestLiving, Cedar Point is the No. 1 favorite theme park in the Midwest. Only a four and a half-hour drive from Indy, it's a great option for an overnight or weekend trip.

Indiana Beach just cracked the top 15 of that list. This season, the park promises a re-imagined children's area, new restaurants and live music.