I have visited a lot of theme parks, thankfully without enduring massive queues or spending a fortune! Check out my top tips and tricks for visiting theme parks and maybe you can do too 🙂
1. Book your tickets in advance
This for me is a golden rule. Tickets are ALWAYS dearer at the entrance to a theme park. Attraction Tickets Direct have the LOWEST theme park ticket rates on the web, with free delivery and no credit card fees. They also send you real park tickets (not vouchers) so you can walk straight through without queuing 😎 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 combination tickets to multiple theme parks, that are only available on their website.
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 you can prepare your children so that they are not 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.
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. Inevitably you will 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! Not only are theme parks usually expensive but they can tide you over if you are waiting in line for a long time. A lightweight back pack is ideal as sunglasses and phones are not allowed on some of the fast rollercoasters. You don’t need to worry about where to leave extra clothes or snacks as most parks usually have lockers available. And don’t forget your sunscreen!
5. Arrange a meeting place if you get lost.
Hopefully this won’t happen but having one pre arranged will alleviate some of the stress if you do manage to lose someone or you get separated. Remember there will be rides that only some of the family will go on and if they are unable to bring their phone or other items on the ride, having a meeting place is essential.
6. Plan your route.
Don’t follow the herd. Go to the rear of the park and work your way towards the entrance or anti-clockwise or 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 option than thinking about standing in line for an hour at 5pm when you are shattered.
7. Check out fast passes / fast track
These vary from park to park. Disneyland Paris for instance has a great ‘free’ fast pass system where you go to a ride and get a time slot for later that day, then come back to a shorter queue. Other systems are not so good, or indeed free. Fast pass tickets in some parks can be a God send 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 can be a waste of money. Fast passes in many parks are only valid on rides that 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 might 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 will probably be seated in the row behind and if that means saving a half hour in the queue, it might be worth it!
9. Use the baby swap.
These may not be in all theme parks yet but if you see them – 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 but many parks offer discounted tickets for evening visits. You may also catch a parade or fireworks display at night time.
11. Bring ID
If you are visiting any of the American theme parks, bear in mind that you have to have picture identification if you want to buy alcohol. Regardless of what age you are, in America, they always check for a photo ID. A nice cold beer after an exhilarating (or terrifying) ride might be just what is required so make sure you are able to purchase by having ID with you!
12. Consider staying in one of the theme park hotels for a few nights.
Universal Studios, Disney and Port Aventura, to name but a few, all 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 to go on the top attractions. It can also be handy at night time for dining options and for easy access to the park for firework displays, parades or shows.
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 on-line 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.
15. Download the App
Many theme parks have their own free apps with tips and tricks as well as wait times for rides, showtimes and availability in restaurants. Download the app before you go.
So they are my top tips and tricks for visiting theme parks. If you have any to add, just comment in the box below. I also have dedicated posts on the best tickets to buy for Port Aventura and the best theme park tickets to buy in Orlando if you happen to be planning visits to either of these. This post was sponsored by Attraction Tickets Direct but all views, as always, are my own.