Theme Park Tips (click for complete post)

Theme Park Tips (click for complete post)

*Watch the weather, and plan a "water" day for the forecasted warmest day of your stay.  Be sure to spend a day at the villa (especially during a particularly hot day), cooling off in the media room and in the pool!  Beach days and/or days spent playing at the villa are needed respite anyway; you'll enjoy your next day at the theme park more after you've had a day off your feet in the water!  For many people, two days in a row at parks is ideal, with a day off in between, and then another couple of theme parks days.  The themed water parks at Universal, Disney, and Sea World are also lots of fun, and Island H20 waterslide park is just a mile from our properties!

*Buy your theme park passes online in advance, so you're not wasting precious time in the entrance lines! will save you a few bucks, as will gift cards from Sam's Club or Costco to Disney.

*Spend a bit of time studying the system for DisneyWorld: Research Genie+, Virtual Queues, Lightning Lanes... there's lots of good tips on social media, so watch ours for some of this info!

*Arrive at theme parks BEFORE they open, so that you have parked your vehicle, walked through security and entered the parks, and even are waiting at your favorite ride BEFORE the official opening, when rides start. 

*Ride just before park closing, as some of the most popular rides have quicker lines during the last hours of the day!  This includes Harry Potter and Velocirapto rides at Universal, Disney's Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, or Slinky Dog Dash in Disney's Hollywood Studios, amongst many.  All parks will honor your ability to ride as long as you are in line before closing (for example, if you line up by 8:59 and the park closes at 9PM, you're GOOD TO GO!). But by this hour, you no longer need to compete with disability/Genie + or Lightning Lane, Express Passers, etc....since the parks don't offer those, your line will move much quicker.  Plus, other guests are often awaiting fireworks shows, or trying to beat the exiting crowds to the trams.  

*Magic Kingdom and Wizarding World of Harry Potter are the most crowded areas/parks, so avoid those parks on weekends and holiday days (ie., if you are in Orlando for Spring Break, be sure to attend those parks on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, when it's less crowded than it will be Saturday!).

*When the forecast shows rain all day, and the day begins with rain, GO TO THE PARKS!  Buy your water parka at a dollar store or Wal-mart in advance and bring an umbrella.  The rain will scare away local crowds, but you will enjoy shorter lines.

*Take a mid-day rest at our villa, especially during hot summer months, and especially if the parks are open for long hours, into the evening.  For example, if you arrived at Magic Kingdom to begin riding by 9AM, leave around 2PM and return to the park around 5:30 PM.  You will find as you re-enter, you are passing many other tired parents and children who are leaving exhausted; worn from the heat and long lines of the day.  Come home, get off your feet and cool off in the pool during that mid-day break...grill a REAL meal on the BBQ, and head back refreshed for a long evening with beautiful weather!  (During the summer, the afternoon shower has pulled down the humidity from the air, so stay until closing at the theme park!  Especially at Magic Kingdom, lines at the rides die down significantly at dark when the parade or fireworks are going (5 minute lines, or walk right onto the ride!)

*Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Sea World might be great parks to see on a busy weekend or holiday day.  More of the attractions at those parks are fun shows, with little/no lines and in shaded pavilions!

*The worst crowd to be caught in is the last leaving with the last firework show at Magic Kingdom every evening, so it may be worth leaving just before they end.  Waits at the transport back to parking (monorail or steamship) can be 45 minutes or more during crowded seasons.  Consider taking the bus to the TTC (Ticket and Transport Center, AKA parking) from Magic Kingdom, when waits for the exit ride on the tram can be over an hour!

*Sometimes breaking your travel party into smaller groups is the only way to enjoy a theme park.  For very large groups, it's counter-productive to try to stay together when it's crowded.  Meet up again for a specific favorite ride or lunch/dinner together!

*Character dining saves time in the wait meet-n-greet lines!  It's pricey, but so was your whole trip, and especially theme park admission.  If the lines for the four princesses your daughter wanted to meet were each 30 minutes wait, schedule your princess dining experience instead, where you're eating, sitting, and relaxing as princesses COME TO YOU!  Boom.  In 45 minutes, you ate AND met four princesses.  The same can be said for the other character dining experiences.  And for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique--book it for a free day at Disney Springs, instead of pulling time from your precious paid day at Magic Kingdom!  Make these reservations well in advance.

*Use the child swap options for bigger rides at the theme parks.  At the top of the line, one parent waits with the small child while the other parent rides. Then swap.  Others in the party can ride twice!

*Use the shows or restaurant dining to breakup the monotony of waiting in long lines; ride a ride, then watch a show, then ride again, etc.  Shows are always at least in shade or maybe indoors with air conditioning, so they will get you out of the heat on a long afternoon.  Dining experiences are perfect for avoiding long lines during the heavy rushes of mid-afternoon.

*Pack some snacks and drinks if you're bringing a stroller for your kiddos!  This is a no-brainer to avoiding the long food "quick-serve" lines, LOL.  And of course it saves some cash.  You'll find insulated food bags at the villa--or just bring your food in grocery bags for easy disposal at teh parks.  Snacking while waiting for a show or in line is a double-use of time, and keeps the kids busy and parents happy.  (Sea World does not permit outside food or drink.)

*When one needs to use the bathroom, we all go!