THEME PARK ADVENTURE GUIDE
From getting up early to asking for help, follow these ten key principles for a truly magical adventure. For those who want a deeper look, check out our full guide here!
GET UP EARLY
Yes, you do have to get up early. And not just “when the park opens” early. Plan to get to the park gates around an hour before the park opens every day. There is a little wiggle room here for longer adventures, where rest days are often necessary. On most trips and most days, the benefits of arriving early can not be overstated.
DO ROPE DROP RIGHT
You arrived early, now what do you do? Managing a rope drop can actually be quite challenging. There are large crowds all trying to get to the same place. Pushing and bumping definitely will happen. Be kind and look out for others, but stand your ground when necessary and walk FAST.
KNOW WHERE TO GO SECOND
Nearly as important as going to the right attraction first, is following that up with a solid plan for the rest of your morning. Once you get off that first major attraction, take a little time to enjoy whatever awesomeness it was that you just experienced and then be on your way. In some parks the next best choice is the ride next door. However, sometimes, you may need to traverse the park for your next ride.
UNDERSTAND THE "PASS" SYSTEM
With each park having a different system, it can often be confusing as to how each one works. Take time before you go to read up on the specifics. And note that while Disney World does not charge for FastPass+, the MaxPass at Disneyland and Express pass at Universal Orlando do come with a fee.
LEVERAGE THE "PASS" SYSTEM
Once you understand how the system works, it's important to use it to its fullest potential. For example, at all the parks, never use a pass first thing in the morning when there is no wait. If you have a pass, ride in the standby line first thing in the morning and then wait for the lines to get longer to use your pass and ride it a second time. We can pretty much guarantee that if you are rope dropping a ride, you will want to do it again!
USE THE APP
From checking wait times, to viewing park maps and showtimes, to using the FastPass+ and MaxPass system at Disney, the Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando apps are must haves! Check it out before you go to familiarize yourself with it. It will be your most important ally on the days of your visit.
GET SOME REST AND VARIETY
Since getting up early is so important, it is also super essential to find times for rest every day. Trying to go to a park from sun-up to sun-down is a recipe for disaster. We recommend heading back to your hotel after lunch every day to grab a nap or spend time by the pool. It's these breaks that will allow for you to enjoy all of the early mornings and have truly fun and relaxing evenings without getting burned out.
BE PREPARED TO ADAPT
Every day at Disney and Universal is different, so it's impossible to set a perfect plan for your entire day. You can follow the tips for where to go and in what order, but making wise decisions in the park can make or break your visit. Study up on park hours and show times. Take a look at park maps so that you can easily get around. Read about quick service food options and have a few spots in mind that you would like to try.
PACK WHAT YOU NEED
Getting the right content in your bag for a day in the park is the first rule of visiting a Disney or Universal theme park. Bring too much and you will have a sore back all day. Bring too little and you’ll end up having to purchase overpriced bandaids, snacks or water bottles. We recommend cleaning out the bag each night and ensuring you have just what you need for the next day.
ASK FOR HELP!
Our final rule of engagement for theme park adventures is to ASK. FOR. HELP! Every time we have set foot into a guest services building we could not have asked for a better experience. From closed rides, to changed plans, to even misunderstood rules, guest services has always been friendly and often able to solve our problems. Also, if you, or someone in your party, has a medical condition or different ability, you can also get a medical pass to help manage waiting in line or other challenges you may face while in the parks.