Surviving The Theme Parks

Florida Guide > Disney General

The parks make for a brilliant day out & with a little fore-thought the experience can be made all the more enjoyable. We have been to the parks in Orlando many times & these are just some of the hints we have picked up as we have gone along:

  1. If you are staying in a villa & have a fridge freezer with filtered water dispenser, fill plastic bottles the night before. The following day by mid-day they will have thawed sufficiently to make a refreshing ice cold drink – for free!!
  2. If any of your party have special needs go to guest services at the beginning of your day, taking any medical information you may have. At Disney you will be given a special pass to show which determines your level of disability & giving staff information on any special requirements. If you require special access (eg for wheelchair use) other members of your party will also obtain wrist bands to allow the party to stay together. The level of improved access depends on the ride, at some you will be directed to the Fast Pass entrance, at others the exit & at others you will be able to proceed through the normal queues. As they are newer parks most rides at Universal have been designed to offer disabled access on all rides through the normal entrance. We have always found staff helpful & there is generally special information available as to the suitability of each ride.
  3. Strollers & wheelchairs are available to hire at all parks from around $10 per day. There is a lot of walking involved in the parks & children (or adults!) who normally don’t need assistance can find they are flagging! If you have a 7 day or a 14 day pass, consider buying a stroller from supermarkets such Walmart . It may be a cheaper option than hiring every day or you may find that if you are staying in a villa that the owner includes a stroller for your use.
  4. There can be long queues to have bags checked at the entrance to the parks. Consider one person taking the bag through while the others go straight through the ‘no bags’ aisle & start to collect strollers, maps etc
  5. If possible try to get hold of a map of the park before your visit, this way you can plan what are your ‘must dos’ & get to them first so you don’t miss anything!
  6. Make sure you are ‘suitably dressed’ for Disney. “Excessive amounts of skin” are not allowed (as our teenage daughter found out!) and neither is clothing bearing “inappropriate messages”. They have the right to turn you away & this means you will lose your days ticket! At Universal there are many water based rides so they do allow bikini tops or swimming costumes (don’t forget to take a t-shirt if you want to go in any restaurants). By Florida Law, everyone must wear a top at all times – this includes very young children. If you want to go on the water rides it’s a good idea to carry some spare clothing in the car if you want to eat out on the way home.
  7. At Universal you can obtain Priority Parking passes for approximately $3 more than standard parking. This is very useful to avoid a long walk even though courtesy buses operate through the car parks. Always make a note of your car park reference – its too easy to forget after a long day & you could be searching for a very long time!!
  8. Go round the parks in an anti-clockwise direction or start from the furthest ride away to avoid the biggest queues. Spend ten minutes studying the map & decide which rides to get fast passes for. Always ensure children (and adults!) know where to meet up if you get separated!
  9. Rides are less busy during parades – particularly rides suitable for small children.
  10. If you are at a water park & there is a threat of lightening they will order all out of the water (for obvious reasons!) Many people choose to leave at this point but we found that everything may be open again within an hour giving you time to replenish your energy levels & MUCH shorter queues afterwards!
  11. There are a variety of places to eat at all the parks, offering a variety of types of food & prices. If you know you want to eat at one of the “proper” restaurants book a table at guest services as soon as you get to the park as tables are taken very quickly, especially if there are character visits.
  12. ENJOY YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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