To many parents of children with Autism a trip to the Royal Easter Show must seem like an impossible task. However I believe with good planning for many it can be both a enjoyable and educational day. For me planning is the key and what can make the difference between a successful trip and a nightmare. Here are some suggestions I have from my previous show trips.
1. Plan what day you will attend
While it would be preferable to wait and look at the weather and how your family is going on a particular day before heading off. If you plan and book your tickets in advance you can both save money and get some additional benefits that will make the day easier including parking (see below).
The show runs from Thursday 14 to Wednesday 27 April 2011. As school breaks up on the 8th April you can not avoid the school crowd but if possible try to come on a weekday (excluding public holidays). Also if possible try to avoid Easter Weekend (Friday 22nd to Monday 25th)
When booking your tickets look at the options you have. While all children below the age of 4 are free … if you have a health care card you can purchase a person with disability ticket that includes a free carer. This option is cheaper than having the child go for free and paying for the adult. (Normal adult price $34 and People with a disability including 1 free carer is $22.50) … Also if you plan and book ahead you can save up to 15% on tickets. Go to the Royal Easter Show website for details
2. Book Parking (assuming you have got the Mobility Parking Scheme Permit)
Accessible parking can also be pre-booked through Ticketek on 132 849. All vehicles must display a valid RTA access sticker and the RTA Mobility Parking Scheme permit must be shown upon payment to the cashier. Pre-booked accessible parking can only be purchased over the telephone, and not via the Ticketek website.
2. Plan to arrive early – leave early
If you are there when the gates open. Your day will be alot easier. Your kids will be in a better frame of mind, there will be less people (well less than at 10am or midday) and you will be able to do more without the crowds. Check out the Show Planner if there is something specific you want to see.
3. Plan for what you will see and do
I think this one is a key thing. Make a plan of where you will enter and what you will see and in what order. Study the map. If you want some ideas on what to do the Royal Easter show has a few suggested itineraries aimed at different age groups. I always try to get something that I know will be a big draw card not long after we arrive. I find that really helps to set a positive tone for the day. Also plan plenty of breaks and identify places where you can “check out”. Ideally as far away as possible from the Carnivals (I would even do as far as trying to avoid walking through there at all).
One of the first things I would recommend doing is getting a locker. My favourites are those located near the Woodchop and Dog stadium (Q8 on show map). These lockers you pay one fee and can use them (open and close) multiple times during the day. Locker hire for the whole day is $8 with a $2 key deposit. The trick though is that you have to come here first as these lockers go very quickly. Getting a locker (or 2) here is a a key ingredient for show success.
Plan when/if you are going to tackle showbag alley. Do it early or at lunch and store them in your locker. Generally I would advise against doing it when you are leaving.
4. Plan for all weather contingencies
As with anything that you plan days/weeks in advance bring things for all weather contingencies. However as you will have a locker. This is a great place to put this extra stuff.
5. Plan to bring plenty of food and drink with you
Not only with this save you money it will make it alot easier. Having food you know your kids can/will eat on hand saves you time (and potentially from tantrums) instead of waiting in line for food that would (in most cases) be inferior to what you would bring yourself. Again … remember you can store some of it in the locker.
6. Don’t do it alone
My recommendation is to have at least 2 adults and ideally at least 1 adult for every child plus 1. Last year I went to the show with 2 children and 3 adults. This made it alot easier and alot more enjoyable for everyone. It can be a great time to go out with grandparents, aunts and uncles.
7. Tag your children
While you do everything you can to make sure that they don’t run off. I think planning is always best. Last year I just used bright tags with their names on it. This year I am considering the wrist bands (although not too sure how long they would last) or using the old fashioned marker pen on the t-shirt/arm or temporary tattoo with my mobile number on it. Not sure … either way I know it will be prominent.
Above all … Have a great time.