30 TIPS TO SURVIVING THE ORLANDO THEME PARKS

The theme parks of Orlando can be hot and cruel, here are some tips on how to survive the parks whilst making the most out of your visit!

Disney Souvenirs
Disney World - Magic Kingdom

1

Water

Take a bottle of water and refill it at the various water fountains or ask the servers in restaurants.

2

Organise

Use the website and park apps to get use to the layout of the park, so you can head straight to the ride you are most excited for.

3

Beat the heat

If you are not too fussed on riding every single ride, head to the park at around 2.30pm, meaning you beat the hottest time and the park is starting to clear.

4

Ride times

Both Universal and Disney offer apps with ride waiting times, check these before you leave and whilst your at the park so that you know which rides are quieter when deciding what to ride next.

5

Child Swap/Rider Switch Pass

Travelling to parks with small children? Many rides offer a ‘child swap’ option for young children to swap with their siblings; particularly helpful when you have only one adult or older sibling wanting to ride.

30 Tips to Surviving Orlando Theme Parks
Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios

6

Forget the parade

If you do love rides, then forget watching the parades and head straight to the best rides you want to try. Queues tend to be a lot quieter during parade times, particularly the evening parades.

7

Buy your tickets online

Avoid queues and save money by purchasing your tickets online and print them before heading to the park. We saved money and time by purchasing ticket packages at Undercover Tourist.

8

Pack light

Although it is tempting, don’t over pack your bag! This will weigh you down and will probably be full of un-useful items anyway. Bring your phone, wallet, camera, raincoat and water bottle.

9

Leave Potter to last

Whilst visiting Universal, both Harry Potter areas and rides get incredibly busy, incredibly early. Leave it until later in the evening, when younger children are heading home, to avoid the 3 hour waiting time.

10

The correct footwear

We have all done it; worn pretty new shoes on a day out and ended up with blistered achy feet. Trainers are the best choice for trekking around these theme parks but I do love wearing a comfy pair of flip flops in the hot months.

Exploring the magic kingdom
Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom

11

Food

Food in parks can be so expensive but don’t forget you can bring your own food in with you. We like to bring in a few snacks and get the refillable cups. Eating at an indoors restaurant can be a god send during the hot summer months, so bring some extra money for this.

12

Sunscreen

In Orlando, it is so essential to bring sunscreen and keep applying it. It is easy to forget when your whizzing through the air at super speeds but don’t spoil the next few days of your holiday by forgetting to apply a bit whilst you’re queuing for the next ride.

13

Wear layers

Orlando’s weather can change throughout the day, so bring layers to avoid the ‘waiting for the parade’ chill or to keep you covered in a thunderstorm.

14

Single Rider

If you aren’t too fussed about sitting next to your friends or family, take the single rider queue, which can cut your wait time by half, if not more.

15

Bring a camera

Avoid paying overcharged ride shots and bring you camera to capture your fun memories.

30 Tips to Surviving Orlando Theme Parks
The Simpson at Universal Studios

16

Arrive early

I know I have said arrive late if your not too fussed on the rides but if you are fussed and want a full day at the park then get there early. Parking lots start to fill up from 9am!

17

Poncho

Bring a Poncho to avoid the inevitable rainy afternoons.

18

Bring spare clothes for water rides

Island of Adventures includes lots of water rides that help you cool off in the summer. Unfortunately, because of the high humidity of the Orlando, clothes don’t always dry as well, so bring along some spare underwear to avoid walking around in wet clothes all day.

19

Start at the back

Walk to the back of the park when you first enter the theme park and work your way forward to avoid long queues and hectic walkways.

20

Alternate your rides

Much easier to do so in Universal parks, but alternate your rides between outdoor and indoor air conditioned rides to avoid over heating during hot months.

30 Tips to Surviving Orlando Theme Parks
A Parade at Disney

21

Sit near an exit

When watching a show, try and get seats near an exit to allow for a fast escape at the end.

22

Charge your phone

Not just for pictures but for those moments you suddenly lose your party, make sure your phone is fully charged. If you are like me, with a certain phone that seems to run out of battery very quickly, then head to Wossamotta U, located in Adventure’s Toon Lagoon (Universal) and purchase 30 minutes of charging time for $5. Internet access is available in this area of the park too.

23

Souvenir shopping

Buy your souvenirs at the end of your day, there is nothing worse than carrying around a half deflated balloon and a collection of Simpson coasters around the theme park all day. At Disney, if you choose to buy souvenirs during the day, you can collect the items at the exit as you leave the park or even get them sent to your hotel if you are staying at a Disney Resort.

24

Book food reservations in advance

If you are a large family or want to eat in a popular sit down restaurant for dinner, you need to book a table prior to your visit.

25

Transport

Choose a hotel near the theme parks that offer a shuttle bus to avoid high taxi charges. You can rent and drive yourself, which we found the most convenient method of transport but be warned that parking in any of theme parks is expensive, costing upwards of $25 per day.

30 Tips to Surviving Orlando Theme Parks
Island of Adventures

26

Height Restrictions

If you are travelling with younger children, check the height restriction before visiting so you can purposefully avoid certain rides and therefore avoiding child disappointment.

27

My Disney Experience app

Use the app to reserve restaurants and book your fast pass choices.

28

Gum

Bring your own gum, it is not sold in any of the parks.

29

Use the Crowd Calendar

Undercover Tourist have a brilliant Crowd Calendar that gives you a rough idea of the parks busiest days and weeks. Check it out before you plan any trip and avoid the Christmas period if possible.

30

Photograph the parking lot

So, theme park parking lots are massive! Take a photo of the area and lot you have parked in so you can find your car at the end of the day.

We booked our theme park tickets via Undercover Tourist, they offer some great discounts and packages.

undercover_tourist_logo_with_leap

Book theme park tickets with Undercover Tourist.

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Showing 26 comments
  • Noemi of Pinay Flying High
    Reply

    This is a great list! I love all the tips you mentioned about the best times to go to avoid the crowd and the heat. I’m not sure though if I should give up the parade, I had a fun time watching the one in Disney Paris. Lol. But then again, I’m not into rides so I guess I’ll skip the rides. :p

  • Diana - MVMT Blog
    Reply

    All great tips! I haven’t been to Disney in years, but I thought your tip about going later in the afternoon after the kids have gone home is a great tip. I can only imagine how crowded Potter world must get even though I’ve never been.

  • Natasha Welch
    Reply

    Awesome tips here! Aw man I’m feeling so nostalgic, visited Orlando Disneyworld as a kid twice, have to say they didn’t have the apps or the child switch option then, seems like things are improving! Visited Potter World the very time that it opened and it wasn’t actually that busy then (relatively to Disney ofc!), probably hadn’t built up the hype yet

  • Delaine Dcosta
    Reply

    I wish I had known some of these earlier. We waited at Harry Potter for 2 freaking hours, and just when we were about the reach the ride stops working. It was the worst! In all that commotion, I forgot to drink Butterbeer too!

  • Reply

    These are great tips! I think a lot of people come unprepared and your post could save them a lot of trouble. The gum one made me chuckle!
    I personnally don’t like rides (at all), but I guess I have to visit Disney at leace once! It’s really nice that they let you bring your own lunch. The only major theme park in Québec doesn’t allow you to anymore, which is ridiculous, especially since all they offer is overpriced crappy junk food 🙁

  • Clare
    Reply

    Great tips. I have never been to Orlando but when I do I will use these. I have heard that it’s very expensive to eat in the parks but then one meal will do for several people as the portions are huge. Good tip though starting off with the furthest away rides 🙂

  • Ivy
    Reply

    This makes me miss the Orlando theme parks so much! It’s been more than 5 years since we last went and I’m itching to go back. Maybe when we have children so we can use the child swapping pass 🙂

  • Reply

    Wonderful list of tips! I will definitely use them when I visit Orlando next time. I would love to go on some rides!

  • Jen
    Reply

    Oh how I miss Orlando!! I can totally relate to your list. This is really helpful for those planning to visit Orlando.

    By the way, I love the layout of your blog. It makes the post very easy and fun to read.

    • Katie
      Reply

      Thank you Jen! Happy to hear you like the blog layout!

  • Sagar Kole
    Reply

    The place is awesome & useful tips! I I wished to visit this Christmas, but already we have planned a vacation to Dubai. Next year definitely will plan. Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle D.
    Reply

    Ugh how I wish I had this post when I want to Orland this summer! It’s is so hectic and crazy that the preparation in advance really does help a lot! You’ve got some great tips in here that I’ll definitely be using next time.

  • Punita Malhotra
    Reply

    That’s a lot of tips. Imagining the crowds and the craziness, I suppose all of these are so necessary, specially for a first-time visitor.

  • Neha Parti
    Reply

    Very informative! Bookmarking this for future.

  • EG III
    Reply

    Great list of tips. Orlando is one of those elusive places that I have yet to travel to. You mention to arrive early…is it possible to see everything in a full day if you get there first thing in the morning?

    • Katie
      Reply

      Hey EG,
      Yeah if you arrive at opening you can certainly see the majority of the park. If it is super busy (during summer holidays or over Christmas period) then you may not get a chance to ride all rides but we visited in August and were able to ride the ones we wanted to ride and tour the park within a few hours.

  • Gareth
    Reply

    I was a kid when I first had the pleasure of visiting Orlando and all its theme parks and while, at that age, it all just seemed like a fairy tale, for my parents I imagine it must have been super-stressful. Certainly, now that I am older and have to make my own travel plans, I always take these things into consideration and bringing plenty of water is obviously great advise as even now I can remember near constant thirst back at Disneyland. Nice tips and definitely one for Orlando-bound parents!

  • Anna
    Reply

    I’ve never been to Orlando and its theme parks, but I can only imagine how crazy such places can get. Personally, I believe I’d find it too overwhelming. Your tips would certainly enable me to enjoy my time there a bit more!

  • Wanderlust Vegans
    Reply

    These are really useful tips for theme parks. I hadn’t thought of riding as single people to get through the line faster. Also going on rides during the parade is a good one. I like the rides more.

  • Gypsy soul
    Reply

    Some useful tips there. I have only been to Paris Disneyland when I was a child, never been to US.

  • TogetherInThailand
    Reply

    interesting that they don’t sell gum…maybe they are trying to keep people from chewing and spitting it around? I like your tip about starting at the back of the park and working forward! Brilliant! I always tend to just buy souvenirs whenever, but you have a great point about buying at the end so you’re not carrying i it 🙂

  • MARINEL DE JESUS
    Reply

    I didnt realize how many useful tips there can be for visiting disneyland. I agree though – it’s a rough place to be when it’s hot and crowded. thanks for these lovely tips.

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