8 Tips for the Best Orlando Theme Park Experience
Planning a trip to Orlando's world-famous theme parks? Lucky you! A day at the parks is always amazing, but as seasoned visitors know, a little planning and knowledge can make it even more so. Whether it's your first visit or you want to refine your approach, here are eight sure-fire tips for having the best theme park adventure ever.
1. Buy Tickets in Advance
Buying tickets online before you arrive can be a big time-saver — and Visit Orlando can help you save money on those tickets. In addition to discounted passes to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and LEGOLAND Florida, we have savings on attractions throughout the area.
If you're already in Orlando but haven't bought passes yet, stop by our Official Visitor Center, conveniently located on International Drive in the heart of the tourism district. You can get discounted tickets there too, and our knowledgeable Vacation Guides will be happy to provide you with planning assistance, free resources and even a free gift bag.
2. Spend Less Time in Line
Lines are unavoidable at theme parks, but there are ways to minimize those waits. At Walt Disney World, purchasing passes in advance gives you access to FastPass+, which lets you reserve times for up to three rides and shows up to 30 days before you arrive at no additional cost. (Guests of Disney's on-site resorts can make reservations 60 days out.) After you've used the first three FastPasses, you can use the free My Disney Experience app to set up more depending on availability.
Universal Orlando's Universal Express Pass program is available at an additional cost for up to three parks on the same day. Guests of select Universal Orlando on-site hotels, including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, get the service for free.
SeaWorld has a few different express upgrades at additional cost. Those under the Quick Queue program provide front-of-the-line access to select rides. Signature Show Seating, which gives reserved seating for popular events, is also available, and you can get the best of both worlds with the Signature Show Seating + Quick Queue Unlimited combo package.
Finally, LEGOLAND Florida has two paid quick-ride upgrades. The Premium Play Band includes instant access to all rides, all day, while the Awesome Awaits Pass lets you skip the line on one ride.
3. Arrive Early
Sleeping in is always nice, but there are benefits to arriving at a theme park before it opens. For one thing, crowds are smaller during the first hour or so, which means you can knock out a couple of must-rides before lines get too long. And in summertime, morning hours are the coolest hours.
An early start can also help if you're traveling with small children. Once midday crankiness creeps up, take a hotel intermission. After a quick bite, a relaxing dip in the pool and maybe a brief nap, head back to hit up more attractions before the evening's fireworks display. That way, you'll still get in a full day without it feeling like a forced march.
Learn more: Orlando Hotels & Resorts
4. Choose Your Footwear Carefully
A day at the theme parks is about comfort, not fashion, so make sure everyone in your group wears comfortable, durable shoes. For example, walking the perimeter of Disney's Magic Kingdom will put more than 2 miles on your pedometer alone, and that doesn't come close to accounting for all the mileage you'll accrue once ride queues, bathroom visits, general sightseeing and other considerations are factored in!
If you do wind up getting a bad case of blistered feet, all of our parks have first-aid stations where you can get Band-Aids and other ways to ease any discomfort. But prevention is the best medicine here.
Learn more: Sports, Recreation & Outdoors in Orlando
5. They're Going Left — So Go Right
It's a time-honored maxim that most people move right upon entering a business ... but studies have shown the opposite effect when it comes to theme parks! If you take our third tip to heart and arrive early, you'll usually encounter far fewer crowds, and enjoy correspondingly shorter ride times, by taking a clockwise route.
6. Come Prepared
You're going to want to take a lot of photos and videos while you're at the park, so arrive with your devices fully charged, and bring portable charging equipment if you can. (If you forget the latter, you can buy one at all of Orlando's theme parks, and some offer free battery charging at guest services; check with your park for details.)
Also, if you're visiting during the summer, there's always a chance of afternoon rain — fortunately, it usually doesn't last long. If you don't feel like carrying umbrellas or ponchos, be prepared to find a covered spot to relax if the skies do open up.
7. Bring Your Own Snacks and Beverages
Bringing your own snacks and beverages to theme parks can be a money-saver. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida have fairly open policies regarding outside food and drink — provided said food does not require heating and said drink isn't alcoholic in nature. SeaWorld is a bit more restrictive, but baby formula and food is permitted, as is food for guests with special diets.
Learn more: Restaurants in Orlando
8. Don't Forget Where You Parked
Orlando's theme parks attract hundreds of thousands of visitors on a daily basis, and their parking options are correspondingly massive. If you don't want to spend time on a needle-in-a-haystack search, make sure to note where you parked, or use your cellphone or camera to take a photo of your location. To help you in that regard, our theme parks' parking lots and garages use section names and numbering — but they can't remember the details for you.
Learn more: Transportation in Orlando
Written by Nate Shelton, consumer content writer at Visit Orlando. He's an experienced journalist and native Floridian who enjoys the entertainment, cultural and culinary aspects of Orlando and Orange County.
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