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15 Top Tips and Tricks for Visiting Theme Parks

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I have visited many theme parks, thankfully without enduring massive queues or spending a fortune. Check out my top tips for visiting theme parks and maybe you can too.

 

 

1. Book your tickets in advance

This may sound obvious but booking tickets in advance is one of the top tips for visiting theme parks! Tickets are ALWAYS dearer at the entrance to a theme park and you don’t have to queue! Attraction Tickets Direct have the LOWEST theme park ticket rates on the web, with free delivery and no credit card fees.😎 

Attraction Tickets Direct also offer many combination tickets that are not available to buy at the gate. You may get 2 days for the price of 1, or get discounted tickets to multiple theme parks, that are only available on their website. If you prefer to book by phone or are confused about what tickets to buy, why not call the expert staff in Attraction Tickets Direct’s Dublin office. They are open from 9am-9pm, 7 days a week, call free on 1800 936 640. All they sell is theme park tickets and hotels, so they know all the theme parks inside out!

 

 

 

2. Research, research research.

I can’t stress this enough. You WON’T be able to go on every ride, no matter how fit you are, or how small the theme park is. Check the height and or age restrictions before you go, so you can rule out rides that are not applicable for your children. Not only will this save you time, but by preparing your kids in advance you may avoid any upset, if they are too small to go on a top attraction. Mark the attractions that are ‘must see’ and go for them first. Check the times of shows or parades and decide what you want to see. Rides are usually quieter during parades, so bear that in mind if the parade is repeated and take advantage.

top tips for visiting theme parks

 

3. Parking tips:

Before you decide to drive, check the price of the parking. In some cases it can be exorbitant. It may be quicker and cheaper to take a shuttle bus to the park. If you do decide to drive, take note of where you parked. You will probably arrive at the park early, when the car park may be somewhat empty. Leaving however is a different story, so if you don’t know you where you parked your car, you could be in for a long night!

 

4. Bring supplies.

If there are water rides, bring swim suits and if you don’t want to get wet bring a poncho. A waterproof casing for your phone is also a good idea, as is a powerbank for your phone. You will probably take hundreds of pictures so you will want to re-charge it. Bring snacks, they will come in handy when you are waiting in line for a long time, and will be a lot cheaper than buying snacks in the park. A lightweight back pack is ideal as sunglasses and phones are not allowed on some of the fast rollercoasters. Most parks have lockers available, take advantage of this rather than carrying a bag around all day. If travelling during the summer time – don’t forget your sunscreen!

tips for visiting theme parks

 

5. Arrange a meeting place if you get lost.

Hopefully this won’t happen, but having a meeting place pre-arranged will alleviate some of the stress, if you manage to get separated from your friends of family. Remember there will be rides that only some of the family will go on, and on some occasions the rides finish in a completely different place to where they started from. Having a meeting place is essential.

 

6. Plan your route.

Don’t follow the herd. Most people tend to turn right when they go into a theme park. Why not go anti-clockwise or go to the rear of the park and work your way towards the entrance. Another good option is to go straight for the rides that you really want to go on. The most popular rides will have the longest queues, so go on them first when you have more energy and don’t mind queueing. This is a much better than standing in line for an hour at 5pm with exhausted children!

tips for visiting theme parks

 

7. Check out fast passes / fast track

Fast track passes vary from park to park. Disneyland Paris for instance has a great ‘free’ fast pass system. You simply go to a ride and get a time slot for later that day, then come back to a shorter queue. Other theme parks are not so good, or indeed free.

Fast pass tickets in some parks can be a Godsend if you are travelling during peak season, and if you want to go on the most popular rollercoasters. If however, you happen to be travelling off peak and/or you have small children who are unable to go on the big rides, they may be a waste of money. Fast passes in many parks are only valid on the top attractions, many of which are unsuitable for small children. Make sure you check each park for their individual offering.

 

 

8. Use the single rider lanes

There may be one or two people in your group who want to try the fast coasters. Make use of the single lanes where there is usually little or no queue. It may mean that you wont be able to sit next to your partner, but you may be seated in the row behind them, and if that means saving a half hour in the queue, it might be worth it!

tips for visiting portaventura

 

9. Use the baby swap.

The baby swap facility is not available in all theme parks, but if you see it – take advantage. They are used primarily for people who are travelling with a small child. You all queue together, one person stays with the baby in a room at the top of the queue, while the other goes on the ride. When your partner is finished the ride, you simply swap places.

 

10. Go at night time

Not only are queues way shorter at night-time, but many parks offer discounted tickets for evening visits. You may also catch a parade or fireworks display.

tips for visiting theme parks

 

11. Bring ID

This is one of the top tips for visiting theme parks in America. You have to have picture identification if you want to buy alcohol, regardless of what age you are in America. A nice cold beer after an exhilarating (or terrifying) ride might be needed, so make sure you bring ID with you.

 

12. Consider staying in one of the theme park hotels for a few nights.

Many theme parks including Universal Studios, Disney World and Port Aventura, have hotels on site. These can be handy if you are planning on spending a lot of time in these particular parks. You will usually have early access to the park before the general public, so you can go on top attractions without large queues. It can also be handy at night time for dining options, and for easy access to the park for firework displays, parades or shows.

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13. Check the shows are in English

We got caught out in Disneyland Paris when we queued for 45 minutes for the French version of Frozen! Many shows in theme parks are shown in different languages. Make sure the show you are planning your day around, is the English version. Sometimes there is a small icon on the park guide showing which language the show is in, failing that, check in with the information centre beforehand.

 

14. Pre-purchase Disney’s Fast Pass+ and Memory Maker.

Disney’s Fast Pass+ allows you to pre-book your favourite rides and attractions online before you go. This is automatically included with Disney tickets purchased through Attraction Tickets Direct. Similarly Disney’s ‘memory maker’ which normally costs $199 is free if you buy your Disney tickets through Attraction Tickets Direct. This allows you to keep ALL photographs that are taken of you in the park.

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15. Download the App

Many theme parks have their own free apps with tips for visiting theme parks, as well as wait times for rides, showtimes and availability in restaurants. Download the app before you go.

 

So they are my top tips for visiting theme parks. If you have any to add, just comment in the box below I would love to hear them.  This post was sponsored by Attraction Tickets Direct but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Like this post? You may like:

 

The best tickets to buy for PortAventura

The best tickets to buy in Orlando

10 things to know about Universal Orlando before you book

New attractions at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens & Aquatica 

Book a Disney hotel & park tickets for 2020 and dine for free with drinks

 

Sarah

 

 

 

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Zootropolis – The ‘Zootopian’ holiday destination!

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Imagine a holiday destination where predators and prey walk side by side, where anything is possible, where you follow your dreams and they DO come true – that’s Zootropolis, the latest feel good movie from Disney!

 

The movie brings you through a large city of four boroughs were both predator and prey live in harmony. It is one of those places where there is something for everyone, complete with a transportation system to die for! You can sunbathe, snowboard, gamble and even trek through the rainforest. Now if only I could find such a place and sell it – now there’s a thought! A word of warning though! Please be on the lookout for isolated incidents of crime. The police departments are investigating some ‘violent’ crime on ‘prey’ victims in some areas. Investigations are ongoing…

This is where little Judy Hopps (aka a bunny rabbit voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) fits in. She always wanted to be a police officer and decides to take the high speed train to the big city where ‘anyone can be anything’ – Zootropolis, to fulfil her dream. Discounted by the chief of police, a buffalo (Idris Elba) and her colleagues, she is reduced to traffic duty on her first day. Determined to prove everyone wrong she sets out to solve the case of the missing mammals. Judy meets Nick, the sly fox (Jason Bateman) who eventually agrees to help her, after some clever hustling on her own part.

A review of Zootropolis by the travel expert.

A clever movie ensues as Judy and Nick meet all sorts of interesting characters. With help from the hilarious sloths (my kids favourite), the naked elephants and the rodent Godfather, they attempt to solve the case and explore the lands of Zootropolis along the way….

Little Rodentia:

First off you definitely will not be staying here. Little Rodentia is a only twenty one inches tall and located in Savanna Central Park, a gated community to avoid large mammals mistakenly entering the area. The district is based on Greenwich Village, New York,with a wealth of restaurants and shops (especially cheese shops!!). It’s also home to a terrific transportation system modelled on tubes normally reserved for hamster cages!

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Tundra Town:

Tundra Town is a district for polar mammals in the city of Zootropolis. A district conceived with those who enjoy a colder climate and is twinned with Moscow. A great place for the adventure skier or snowboarder to visit. Once again, prey and predator live together in harmony here so you need not worry about the large population of polar bears.

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Sahara Square:

If you are a bit of nightowl, this district is the one for you! Sahara Square was built for animals who live in the desert, with strong influence from both Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. Sahara Square would very much remind visitors of Dubai – literally coming alive at night with bustling clubs and casinos.

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The Rainforest District:

And finally, the Rainforest District. A place for those seeking adventure and also spa treatments! The climate is humid and can be particularly wet during the rainy season, but beautiful nevertheless. The lush vegetation and scenery will keep you coming back for more but if you are looking for the elusive tan, perhaps best stick to Sahara Square!

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Getting to visit Zootropolis before others was a treat that I really enjoyed, so many thanks to my friends at Disney, from my family and I! You too can visit Zootropolis from March 18th where the good people at Disney make dreams come true. To this day, my kids are still singing the theme tune, Shakira’s ‘Try everything’ – if only they came back from holidays feeling the same way….

 

Sarah

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My Stay At Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida

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Universal Studios is my favourite theme park in Orlando. They have 3 parks, Universal Studios, Islands of adventure and the newly opened Volcano Bay.

 

I’m a bit of a movie buff anyway so I was mesmerised looking at the film sets and loved taking photos with all my favourite characters. The simulator rides are amazing. I think it’s safe to say that there are rides for everyone to enjoy. Some have height restrictions but there are enough rides to keep the small kids happy too.

You really feel like the ‘Transformers’ character, Optimus Prime is throwing you up in the air on the Transformers ride, the technology is mindblowing. Dispicable Me, Spiderman and the Simpsons are fantastic too. You are seated in what appears to be a small car, but they feel like rollercoaster rides. I should mention that if you are a Simpsons fan, there is a whole area dedicated to them. You can have a drink at Moes Tavern, try a Krusty Burger or just hang out and meet some characters.

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If Rollercoasters are your thing, there are plenty. Although I don’t particularly like being scared to death for fun, I did go on a few for research purposes! The Hulk goes upside down 7 times, I don’t know how I managed it, but I did it.

I preferred the water rides in Islands of Adventure. There are several, and they area a great way to cool down during the heat of the day. Some are more daring than others, like Dudley do-Rights Ripsaw Falls, which is really a rollercoaster on water! For a great fun family ride try Popeye and Blutos Bilge-Rat barges, ride the white water rapids but beware you will get drenched! Since my visit Universal Studios have opened a dedicated water park called Volcano Bay, I guess I’ll have to go back and try that one out!

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There are so many great rides in both Universal Studios parks, but for me the pièce de la resistance is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even if you have never watched the Harry Potter movies, you cannot help but be amazed at the technology and the attention to detail. There are now two rides, one in each park, but you can go between the two on the Hogwarts Express Train. It is not just about the rides though. You visit Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, you would easily spend a whole day there! Make sure you go to Olivanders and buy a wand. They are beautifully made and presented in a box, a really nice gift ($35) to bring home. See my detailed blogpost on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter by clicking here .

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Like most of the rides at Universal Studios, there is a child swap facility. If both parents want to ride, but can’t leave the kids alone, one parent can wait in the child swap area and they won’t have to stand in line again. Speaking of queues, these can be quite long during peak season and around school holidays.

I recommend buying an express pass to save yourself queuing time. Generally speaking  with an express pass you shouldn’t have to queue for longer than 20 minutes. Alternatively if you stay at one of Universal’s luxury hotels, you get the express pass for free. You also avail of early access to the Parks, one hour before opening time which is a huge advantage especially if you’re visiting Harry Potter. Incidentally the only area the express pass isn’t accepted is on the Harry Potter rides, so staying at one of Universal’s Hotels is the only way to avoid long queues there, by availing of the early access to the park.(See my other blogpost on where to stay in Orlando by clicking here)  In low season queues are much shorter and express passes should not be necessary.

Universal Studios

Located next to Universal Studios is City Walk. This is a huge area with bars and restaurants and a few shops too. Remember if you are planning on having a drink, you must bring age identification with you. Even if you think you couldn’t possibly be asked, you will! There were people aged over 50 refused alcohol because they had no identification with them, so don’t say you haven’t been warned! Keep your park entrance ticket, as this allows you free into the bars and night-clubs without charge.

I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the food here and throughout the park in general. The biggest Hard Rock Cafe in the  world is here and there are also some really nice restaurants too. I loved Vivo Italian Kitchen and Antojitos authentic Mexican. They make the guacamole at the table beside you and you can choose how much garlic and spice you like – it’s a nice touch.  Dare I say it, but I liked the Karaoke bar too! Rising Star is not like the tacky karaoke bars you might find abroad. You sing with a live band and backing singers, and the talent is really good!

So whether you want rollercoasters, simulator rides, movie memorabilia or some great night life – don’t miss a visit to Universal Studios, Orlando!

 

For the lowest price ticket options visit Attraction Tickets Direct.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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Orlando, Florida

Orlando with the Travel Expert

Orlando is as much an adventure as a holiday.

In fact, if you choose to visit all the theme parks while you are there you may find that you need a holiday when you get back! Without doubt, its probably one of the best family holidays you will have with your kids, but what surprised me was how great it is for couples too. I travelled without my kids on an inspection trip and I had such a fantastic time (sorry Luke & Alex – I probably shouldn’t say that!)  There are direct flights to Orlando with Aer Lingus making it so easy to get there and transfer times from the airport are no more than 20 minutes.  Flying direct from Ireland to the USA allows you to go through customs in Ireland, so once you arrive in the States you are treated like a domestic passenger and avoid all the queues – bliss!

Depending on how much time you have you really need to plan your stay. If you are travelling with young kids, Disney is a must. The Magic Kingdom, as its name suggests is magical! There are more rides for younger children here and they can meet their favourite  Disney characters. They have daily parades too which are fantastic for adults and children to watch.  If you can let them stay up late, the firework shows are well worth it. Try not to go to Disney on your first day because the kids will probably be too tired to appreciate it and will inevitably fade before the fireworks begin. There are four Disney parks, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios so depending on whether you have kids, and their ages, you may choose to select specific parks rather than try to see them all. Bear in mind there are over twelve theme parks in the Orlando area and four waterparks so unless you are there for three weeks you won’t see them all.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan your trip and allow for rest days and also shopping days in between!

Pluto in Disneyland, by The Travel Expert

Discovery Cove for instance, where you have the opportunity to swim with Dolphins, needs to be booked in advance as they limit the number of visitors to the park each day. It may seem expensive at $289 but this is an all inclusive park so all meals and drinks are included and your ticket automatically allows you entrance to Seaworld and Aquatica too. If you upgrade to the Ultimate package, Busch Gardens is included in the price and you can go to either park as many times as you like within a 14 day period.

If you don’t want to go to Discovery Cove, the Orlando Flexticket might be for you.  You have unlimited access to Seaworld, Aquatica, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure , Wet ‘n Wild and Citywalk. The Flexticket plus includes Busch Gardens and a free shuttle bus from Orlando. If, on the other hand you want to see everything, then the Orlando Freedom ticket plus is for you, this has entry to all of the Disney Parks and all of the parks on the Flexticket plus and at the moment Legoland too.  Now can you see why planning is important?

My favourite is Universal though, they have two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of adventure. I’m a bit of a movie buff anyway but even if you are not,  the simulator rides are amazing. You really feel like Optimus Prime is grabbing you and throwing you up in the sky on the Transformers ride, the technology blew me away. If rollercoasters are your thing, there are plenty ! Personally they are not for me but I did  love the water rides in Islands of Adventure, there are several and a great way to cool down during the heat. The Wizarding World of Harry  Potter was the icing on the cake for me.  The attention to detail in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley not to mention the two simulator rides and the Hogwarts Express – as the American’s like to say ‘awesome’!

Orlando

Beside Universal Studios there is City Walk. This is a huge area with bars and restaurants and a few shops too. I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the food here and throughout the park in general. There are plenty of nite clubs too if that’s your scene. Dare I say it but I liked the Karaoke bar- Rising Star, it’s not like the tacky ones you find abroad, you sing with a live band and backing singers – the talent is really good. Remember if you are planning on drinking you must bring ID with you, even if you think you couldn’t possibly be asked, there were people aged over 50 refused alcohol because they had no Identification with them, so don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Last but not least – the shopping! The Florida Mall is a like a traditional shopping centre with all the typical high street stores, it has Abercrombie and Fitch and the new Pink store from Victoria Secrets plus a huge range of other shops. If on the other hand you are looking for a bargain , then head for the Premium Outlets, like the name suggests, it’s mainly designer shops at discount prices. Make sure you register at the information kiosk before you start. You need to pay $5 for a discount booklet, it will save you  a lot more in each shop, a massive 20% off the already discounted bags in the Michael Kors outlet alone! Remember to purchase an extra suit case  on your plane ticket for your return journey, or better still pack light on your outbound journey and then you will just have to go shopping when you get there!

Like this post? Check out my  blogpost on Universal Studios.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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