Florida Guide > Planning your Trip
Getting the most out of Orlando’s Theme Parks
Orlando is world famous for theme parks – true!
Theme Parks are notorious for long queues – not true! At least, it’s not true if you have a plan.
Firstly, decide which theme park you want to visit and on which day of the week. It is important to get the right park for your party. Most theme parks have rides that will entertain the very young, the young and just those that are just young at heart but some are more specifically targeted! Then pick the right day of the week to visit. There are plenty of publications that will tell you the busiest days for the various theme parks.
OK – having decided which park you want to visit, take a look at the park website or brochure literature and work out the rides you want to go on. The most popular rides tend to be the fastest and the scariest and if you want to go on one or all of these, you will need a strategy.
The most important strategy is – get there early. Find out the opening time and aim to get there at least half an hour before opening. By arriving this early, you get to park closest to the entrance and you’ll be one of the first in the queue (the only queue you should have all day).
Think about where your rides are located and try to go on them in a sensible order around the park – there’s no point in criss-crossing around the park all day, this uses up energy and takes up time. On the other hand, if the most popular ride in the park is on the other side of the park to the entrance, don’t leave this until last, go straight for this and then work your way back to the entrance.
As soon as the park opens go straight to the Fast Pass or Express Pass booths for the most popular ride you want to go on and book a ride for later in the day. Even if everyone in your party doesn’t want to go on rides, get Fast Pass or Express Pass tickets for them anyway, because then others in your party can go on the ride twice (there is usually a 15-30 minute window on each pass).
Then go to your third most desired ride (I’ll tell you about the second most desired ride in a moment) and have fun.
A lot of people arrive between 10am and 11am but by arriving early you will have visited most of the rides before the crowds arrive and any queues will be very short.
Another advantage of arriving early is that it’s cooler, much better for the kids and for tempers! You also miss the traffic making it a much shorter journey to the parks.
Once you have ridden on your Fast Pass or Express Pass ride, you can then get another ticket for your second most favourite ride. While waiting for this ride, you should visit any rides that appeal to you but that are not necessarily the most popular rides generally.
Another tip is that if you are still at the park at lunchtime, this is a good time to visit the rides because the queues tend to be shorter. Eat your own lunch early or late. If you want a restaurant (particularly a Character) lunch, then book this up as soon as you get to the park, because these can become booked very quickly. This is especially important if you have a large number in your party.
If you’ve arrived at the park by 8am, by lunchtime or shortly afterwards, you will have visited all the rides and attractions you want to. You will have visited in the coolest and less busy time of the day and you will find that you will fit in far more rides with much shorter queues than if you arrive later in the day.
You can then travel back to your accommodation (or elsewhere) for the afternoon missing the crowds leaving the park late afternoon. If you want, you can come back to the park (depending on your ticket) for the attractions and illuminations in the evening.
We have always had to visit the parks in Orlando at peak season times because of school holidays, but we have never (and I mean never) had to queue for more than 10 minutes for a ride, and that was only on one occasion. When we leave the parks early afternoon to head back to our villa for a relaxing swim or off to the shops, and see the queues of people starting (and that’s just to get in) then we are always glad that we chose our early arrival strategy.
A final tip – what to bring to the theme parks? Our essential list includes:
- Sun screen
- A sense of adventure!
Have fun at the theme parks !!
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