If you live in Florida then you know that between the heat, visitors, and crying children, theme park adventures can easily go awry. If you are a regular theme park goer, or plan to visit multiple times throughout the year, annual passes, albeit an investment, is definitely the best way to experience Orlando’s most popular tourist destination. Some of our contributors weighed in on best tips for a Florida Theme Park Survival Guide to make the most of your experience!
Stay Away from Peak Seasons.
The best time to go to a park is when school is in session – and definitely avoid major holidays! Annual passes give you the freedom to enjoy your visit and not worry about rushing from ride to ride. You won’t have to spend 12 hours straight in the park, feverishly trying to ride every single ride.
If you want to keep your sanity, stay away from theme parks from June to August. Seriously! You have annual passes, why even take the chance of having a miserable day with over 2-hour ride lines? Not worth it!
Stroller & Accessories – If you can rent a stroller at the parks, they are so easy to push and turn on a dime. Bring a colorful ribbon to tie onto the handle. This way you can spot it in the sea of strollers outside a ride. Also, when the kids want to walk for a while, the stroller can be a great place to stash stuff.
Snacks – Visiting theme parks with kids can become very costly, especially if you visit on a weekly basis. Bringing snacks for the kids and yourself is a must. You can easily pack sandwiches and potato chips in your backpack or lunch box. Leave the eating at restaurants for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Believe me, it’s so worth it when you see your child’s face on their birthday, and Mickey is singing to them.
Stay Hydrated – Living in Florida, we are a little bit more used to the heat and humidity, but it really will hit you quicker than you realize. Make sure to always bring extra water bottles for you and the kids. Plus, some annual passes – like the Universal Studios Premier Annual Pass – include free water bottles.
Backpacks – Take a backpack to help split up the things to carry. When you park your stroller and get in line for a ride, a backpack is an easy bag to hold and free up your hands.
Other Essentials to Remember – Sunscreen, Tylenol, hats, sunglasses, wipes, band-aids, rain ponchos, snacks that won’t melt and Ziploc bags. Ziploc bags make things easy to find and will keep your belongings safe in case of rain.
Getting Through the Park Quickly, While Still Riding the Rides:
Theme parks generally put their souvenir shops in the front, and you can get stuck in these areas. Bypass the shops and note the direction people tend to gravitate. Then head the opposite way.
Most tourists want to experience a ride with someone they know, but instead, try the single-rider line or the baby swap line. You can still stand in the line with your family and friends, but the wait time is shorter. You’ll be off the ride within a few minutes of each other to share the thrills!
What’s Worth Your Time and Money?
Parades – Parades can be a lot of fun, but people start staking out good spots really early. Once you have seen the parade once or twice, take advantage of this time by going on the popular rides while the big crowds are waiting for and watching the parade.
Disney Fireworks are amazing – but it can make for a long day! Consider a separate trip to see the fireworks, arriving around dinnertime to do a few rides or see a show or two, and then stay for the fireworks. This way the kids won’t be worn out from a long day.
Souvenirs – Merchandise will be everywhere you look, so it’s a good idea to decide about souvenirs before you step foot off the parking lot tram. Browsing in shops will be tempting since they offer a nice, air-conditioned break from the heat. Establishing rules ahead of time about when and if you will purchase items will help to save your sanity.
Character Dining – If you are looking for a place to find your favorite princess, you will want to visit the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot. You’ll join Disney Princesses for Storybook Dining inside a medieval castle with soaring archways and cathedral ceilings. Or, you will love the new breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk. It’s the only place to meet Flynn Rider, Prince Eric, along with Rapunzel and Ariel.
The Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness Resort is also a popular spot to see Mickey and Minnie. Another favorite is dining at Ohana in the Polynesian Village. Hang loose with Stitch and friends at breakfast and enjoy games, storytelling and a Hawaiian-style feast at dinner. Crystal Palace at The Magic Kingdom is a great place to feast with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood at this whimsical, all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet. And finally, Be Our Guest restaurant, where you will step inside the Beast’s enchanted castle for a delicious quick-service breakfast or lunch—or an unforgettable sit-down dinner.
Do you have any tips to add? Share them in the comments below!