Theme parks are full of fun, excitement, attractions, and people. Planning helps you make the most of your visit. Here are ten tips to optimize any amusement park vacation.
1. Peak and non-peak season
Holidays, school breaks, and good weather tend to be the busiest times at amusement parks. If possible, consider non-peak periods when planning your next amusement park vacation. Booking during the off-season means fewer crowds and cheaper rates on everything from tickets to hotels.
Planning how you will spend your days will make your visit run smoother. Sit down and strategize. Where will you eat? What rides and attractions are most important to experience? Planning keeps you from wasting time crossing back and forth across the park. Plan to eat at unusual times to avoid typical rushes. Park Parades and shows usually mean short attraction lines.
3. Take advantage of Fast Passes
Each park has different rules for their fast passes. Fast Passes assign you a time to return to an attraction for quicker access. Some parks allow you to schedule your fast passes online before reaching the park, while others require you to visit the attraction first, and still, other parks only enable you to use your fast pass on one attraction at a time. Plan how you will use your Fast Passes to make the most of the park every day.
4. Find ways to save money on Tickets
Frequent visitors can benefit from unlimited annual passes offered at discounted rates that pay for themselves in a couple of visits. Take advantage of packages, group discounts, and Early-Bird deals but beware of purchasing tickets from unofficial websites. Skip suggested add-ons and remember that visiting one park per day is ideal.
5. Consider your hotel options
Staying at a park hotel is more expensive, but does come with extra perks. For example, you get free parking and "Extra Magic Hours" in Disney parks. These additional hours are a must-have for enthusiasts. However, nearby hotels are significantly cheaper and often offer shuttles to the various parks.
6. Be Prepared
If it's warm, wear loose fitting clothing and sunblock. If it's cold and rainy, wear warm clothes and bring an umbrella. Nothing can ruin a day at the park quicker than uncomfortable clothing and you won’t want to travel back to your hotel. Dress in layers that can accommodate a full day of fun.
7. Life is unpredictable
Once booking and planning are done, it’s time to relax and go with the flow. Even the most perfectly planned trip can be sidetracked by unforeseen factors. Sideshows, bathroom breaks, sudden hunger, and photo moments quickly throw a tightly scheduled day off track. Remember it’s the experience that matters.
8. Take advantage of the free perks and areas
Every waking moment does not have to be spent inside the park. If you stay inside the resort, enjoy the amenities. However, Downtown Disney and Universal City Walk, both adjacent to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood parks in California respectively, are entertainment-filled shopping and eating areas open to the public.
9. Use Guest Services
Don't be afraid to utilize guest services. Employees are trained to help guests find attractions, care facilities, and answer general questions about the park. They’ll also have insider tips about navigating the park.
10. Slow down and enjoy yourself
With so much to do and so little time, make sure you relax and have fun. It's okay to sit down, enjoy a snack, and take in the sights. Amusement parks are excellent places to watch people from all over the world, so just unwind.
The most important thing to remember is that vacations are supposed to be a break from the pressures of life. Set yourself up for a successful, low-stress trip by planning ahead. Once you get there, go with the flow and have some fun!