Top 10 Theme Park Hacks

Cut wait times and save money with these expert tips.

Photo By: Move Collective LLC

Photo By: Garth Vaughan

Photo By: DISNEY/LUCASFILM

Photo By: © 2013 Universal Orlando Resort

Photo By: Photographer: Leonardo Patrizi

Photo By: © 2013 Universal Orlando Resort

Photo By: Bloomberg

You Snooze, You Lose

Plan your visit to the park so that you arrive a few minutes before the gates swing open. You’ll zip through lines for the major rides. You can further reduce wait times by immediately heading to the back of the park where crowds will be thinnest.

Stay Hydrated for Free

Don't spend $5 for a bottle of water again. Most theme parks, like Walt Disney World, will give you a cup of water for free at any food service counter. Pack a lightweight water bottle and refill at no cost. 

BYOL

Save money by bringing your own lunch and snacks. You can rent a locker to store a small cooler or lunchbox. This is a great tip for families with members with allergies and special dieterary needs. 

Take Advantage of Free Fast Passes

With any park admission, Walt Disney World and Disneyland offer free FastPass+ tickets that allow you to skip the lines and schedule exactly when you want to ride the park’s most popular attractions. Most park visiters grab a ticket for these once in the park but, you can actually reserve these 30 days before you set foot in the park and 60 if you’re staying at one of the park resorts. This perk is limited to three rides a day so we recommend the using your passes on the three mountains in Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Don't Let Rain Spoil Your Trip

If you're visiting any of the major parks in Orlando, be prepared for afternoon showers no matter the season. A lot of visitors leave during this time but any Florida native knows that in half an hour the sun will be back. Keep a poncho on hand and use the time to shop, get a snack or visit popular characters indoors.

Follow Parks on Social Media

Follow your favorite theme parks on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to their newsletters so you don’t miss out on flash sales like discounted tickets and deals on dining and park hotels. Social media fans are also the first to know about new attractions and shows like Walt Disney World's new Star Wars additions. 

Learn From the Super Fans

Plan your trip based on tips and reviews from other park fans on community websites like Theme Park Review or Ultimate Roller Coaster and vacation planning blogs like Orlando Informer and Theme Park Insider. Listen to WDW Radio or one of the many amusement park-themed podcasts for advice on best times to visit the parks and can't-miss events like Harry Potter fan weekends at Universal Studios.

Download Park Apps

Apps like My Disney Experience feature interactive maps, wait times for rides, online dining reservations, show times, sharing options via Instagram, etc. and that crucial GPS bathroom locator.

Buy in Advance

You’re much better off buying theme park tickets in advance than by burning park time waiting in lines at the entrance. Pre-purchasing can also give you access to discount codes and seasonal specials. While it may be tempting, never buy tickets from sellers on Craigslist or eBay. There’s nothing worse than explaining the concept of “counterfeit” to your six-year-old. 

Best Deals for Souvenirs

You're going to pay top dollar at shops inside the parks, especially items like stuffed animals and T-shirts. Opt for outlet stores outside the park like Disney Springs in Orlando. You can also order souveniers from many major theme parks online to skip the hassle of hauling items around the park all day.

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