30 Top tips for visiting ORLANDO THEME PARKS

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks

Heading to Orlando theme parks? We share these top tips for visiting Orlando theme parks so you can enjoy the parks without stress.

Things to know before you go to Orlando

Top tips for visiting Orlando Theme Parks

  1. WATER

Take a bottle of water and refill it at the various water fountains or ask the servers in restaurants. Most parks will refill water bottles free of charge and we love bringing a foldable water bottle like this; you can collapse them whenever you are finished with using them, so they take up much less space in your bag and you don’t have to worry about it getting crushed under all your souvenirs. 

  1. ORGANISE

Use the website and park apps to get use to the layout of the park, so you can head straight to the ride you are most excited for. With the introduction of Genie +, there are many new things to learn about the Disney parks especially, so make sure you watch vlogs of those based in Orlando and get planning your days in the park. We always recommend you choose your ‘must-do’ attractions and rides before you visit, so that you know which queues to prioritise. 

  1. BEAT THE HEAT

If you are not too fussed on riding every single ride, head to the parks at around 3.30pm, meaning you beat the hottest time and the park is starting to clear. Enjoy the parks in the evenings are great ways to beat the crowds and heat, especially if you are stuck to visiting during school holidays. 

  1. RIDE TIMES

Both Universal and Disney offer apps with ride waiting times, check these before you leave and whilst your at the park so that you know which rides are quieter when deciding what to ride next. Make sure to keep refreshing the app too so that you have the most up-to-date times. 

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. CHILD SWAP/RIDER SWITCH PASS

Travelling to the theme parks with small children? Many rides offer a ‘child swap’ option for young children to swap with their siblings; particularly helpful when you have only one adult or older sibling wanting to ride.

  1. FORGET THE PARADE

If you do love rides, then forget watching the parades and head straight to the best rides you want to try. Queues tend to be a lot quieter during parade times, particularly the evening parades.

  1. BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE

Avoid queues and save money by purchasing your tickets online and print them before heading to the park. We save money and time by purchasing ticket packages at Undercover Tourist.

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. LEAVE POTTER TO LAST

Whilst visiting Universal, both Harry Potter areas and rides get incredibly busy, incredibly early. Leave visiting these sections until later in the evening (when younger children are heading home) to avoid the 3 hour waiting time. Also, skip the wand purchases whilst here, these are massively overpriced. Read this guide to visiting Harry Potter World on a budget if you plan on spending a lot of time at the Universal parks but don’t want to spend too much money. 

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. PACK LIGHT

Although it is tempting, don’t over pack your bag! This will weigh you down and slow you down during your trip. Bring your phone, wallet, camera, raincoat and water bottle and that is all! If you are travelling as a couple or a group of friends, perhaps take turns in bringing a bag. 

  1. THE CORRECT FOOTWEAR

We have all done it; worn pretty new shoes on a day out and ended up with blistered, achy feet. Trainers are the best choice for trekking around these theme parks but I do love wearing a comfy pair of flip flops in the hot months. You could also wear pumps or ballerina shoes, whatever you feel comfortable in, but just make sure to avoid brand new shoes. This foot glide is a must too! Slip it into your bag and use on achy, blistered feet when needed. The same company have this amazing body glide to prevent chaffing too, so you can wear those dresses and skirts without any thing aches after!

  1. FOOD

Food in parks can be so expensive but don’t forget you can bring your own food in with you. We like to bring in a few snacks and get the refillable cups. Eating at an indoor restaurant can be a god send during the hot summer months, so bring some extra money for this. Alternatively, enjoy half days at the park and eat at restaurants outside of the parks before or after your time inside a theme park. This is especially useful at Universal, when you can pop outside of the park and eat at City Walk. 

  1. SUNSCREEN

In Orlando, it is so essential to bring sunscreen and keep applying it. It is easy to forget when you’re whizzing through the air at super speeds but don’t spoil the next few days of your holiday by forgetting to apply a bit whilst you’re queuing for the next ride.

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. WEAR LAYERS

Orlando’s weather can change throughout the day, so bring layers to avoid the ‘waiting for the parade’ chill or to keep you covered in a thunderstorm. We love little raincoats that fold up into a tiny bag – we can throw them into our backpack and wear them for wet rides or when it downpours.

  1. SINGLE RIDER

If you aren’t too fussed about sitting next to your friends or family, take the single rider queue, which can cut your wait time by half, if not more.

  1. BRING A CAMERA

Avoid paying overcharged ride shots and bring you camera to capture your fun memories. You don’t need an expensive one either, just a decent phone camera or an afforable point and shoot camera would work. We love these travel cameras under $300.

  1. ARRIVE EARLY

I know I have said arrive late if your not to fussed about riding all the rides but if you are fussed and want a full day at the park then get there early. Parking lots fill up faster in the popular months and currently you need to book ahead of time to secure your place in a park. 

  1. PONCHO

Bring a Poncho to avoid the inevitable rainy afternoons. 

  1. BRING SPARE CLOTHES FOR WATER RIDES

Island of Adventures includes lots of water rides that help you cool off in the summer. Unfortunately, because of the high humidity of the Orlando, clothes don’t always dry as well, so bring along some spare underwear to avoid walking around in wet clothes all day. This is also true for most theme parks if you want to enjoy their wetter rides. 

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. START AT THE BACK

No matter which park you are heading to, walk to the back of the park when you first enter the theme park and work your way forward to avoid long queues and hectic walkways. This is especially true if you are visiting first thing in the morning. 

  1. ALTERNATE YOUR RIDES

This one we find much easier to do in Universal parks, but alternate your rides between outdoor and indoor air conditioned rides to avoid getting too hot  during the day. Also, try to time indoor meals or indoor rides during the middle of the day, when the sun and temperature is at its highest. 

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. SIT NEAR AN EXIT

When watching a show, try and get seats near an exit to allow for a fast escape at the end.

  1. CHARGE YOUR PHONE

Not just for pictures but for those moments you suddenly lose your party, make sure your phone is fully charged. We always like to carry a lightweight battery pack on busy and long days out but you can also find recharging stations around most theme parks these days. 

  1. SOUVENIR SHOPPING

Buy your souvenirs at the end of your day, there is nothing worse than carrying around a half deflated balloon and a collection of Simpson merchandise around the theme park all day. At Disney, if you choose to buy souvenirs during the day, you can collect the items at the exit as you leave the park or even get them sent to your hotel if you are staying at a Disney Resort.

  1. BOOK FOOD RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE

If you are a large family or want to eat in a popular sit down restaurant for dinner, you need to book a table prior to your visit. This is especially true at the moment, with many places running at a reduced capacity. Remember, you can always opt for a meal at one of the Disney resorts if you want the Disney experience but restaurants in the park are fully booked. 

  1. TRANSPORT

Choose a hotel near the theme parks that offer a shuttle bus to avoid high taxi charges. You can rent and drive yourself, which we found the most convenient method of transport but be warned that parking in any of theme parks is expensive, costing upwards of $25 per day. Disney resorts offer free transport to Disney parks, Universal resorts are within walking distance to the Universal parks and there are many hotel chains that offer free shuttle buses (especially on international drive). 

  1. HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS

If you are travelling with younger children, check the height restriction before visiting so you can purposefully avoid certain rides and therefore avoiding child disappointment. 

  1. APPS

Take advantage of the theme park apps. Not only do they have wait times like we mentioned before, but you can use apps to reserve restaurants too. Disney’s Genie app can be used to help you cut down on wait times at certain rides whilst the Disney Genie Plus app is a paid for service which allows faster access to most rides. 

  1. USE THE CROWD CALENDAR

Undercover Tourist have a brilliant Crowd Calendar that gives you a rough idea of the parks busiest days and weeks. Check it out before you plan any trip and avoid the Christmas period if possible.

top tips for visiting orlando theme parks
  1. SPECIAL EVENTS

Throughout the year, the parks hold special events; whether it is a Christmas event, Halloween event or Disney’s popular Food and Wine festival. For after hour events, make sure to book tickets in advance, arrive early and stay late to make the most out of your time and money. Don’t overspend on food at these events (be picky about what you try) and avoid the first or last night of an event; these are always the busiest. 

  1. PHOTOGRAPH THE PARKING LOT

So, theme park parking lots are massive! Take a photo of the area and lot you have parked in so you can find your car at the end of the day. 

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Orlando things to do

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29 Comments

  1. This is a great list! I love all the tips you mentioned about the best times to go to avoid the crowd and the heat. I’m not sure though if I should give up the parade, I had a fun time watching the one in Disney Paris. Lol. But then again, I’m not into rides so I guess I’ll skip the rides. :p

  2. All great tips! I haven’t been to Disney in years, but I thought your tip about going later in the afternoon after the kids have gone home is a great tip. I can only imagine how crowded Potter world must get even though I’ve never been.

  3. Awesome tips here! Aw man I’m feeling so nostalgic, visited Orlando Disneyworld as a kid twice, have to say they didn’t have the apps or the child switch option then, seems like things are improving! Visited Potter World the very time that it opened and it wasn’t actually that busy then (relatively to Disney ofc!), probably hadn’t built up the hype yet

  4. I wish I had known some of these earlier. We waited at Harry Potter for 2 freaking hours, and just when we were about the reach the ride stops working. It was the worst! In all that commotion, I forgot to drink Butterbeer too!

  5. These are great tips! I think a lot of people come unprepared and your post could save them a lot of trouble. The gum one made me chuckle!
    I personnally don’t like rides (at all), but I guess I have to visit Disney at leace once! It’s really nice that they let you bring your own lunch. The only major theme park in Québec doesn’t allow you to anymore, which is ridiculous, especially since all they offer is overpriced crappy junk food 🙁

  6. Great tips. I have never been to Orlando but when I do I will use these. I have heard that it’s very expensive to eat in the parks but then one meal will do for several people as the portions are huge. Good tip though starting off with the furthest away rides 🙂

  7. This makes me miss the Orlando theme parks so much! It’s been more than 5 years since we last went and I’m itching to go back. Maybe when we have children so we can use the child swapping pass 🙂

  8. Oh how I miss Orlando!! I can totally relate to your list. This is really helpful for those planning to visit Orlando.

    By the way, I love the layout of your blog. It makes the post very easy and fun to read.

    • Thank you Jen! Happy to hear you like the blog layout!

  9. The place is awesome & useful tips! I I wished to visit this Christmas, but already we have planned a vacation to Dubai. Next year definitely will plan. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Ugh how I wish I had this post when I want to Orland this summer! It’s is so hectic and crazy that the preparation in advance really does help a lot! You’ve got some great tips in here that I’ll definitely be using next time.

  11. That’s a lot of tips. Imagining the crowds and the craziness, I suppose all of these are so necessary, specially for a first-time visitor.

  12. Very informative! Bookmarking this for future.

  13. Great list of tips. Orlando is one of those elusive places that I have yet to travel to. You mention to arrive early…is it possible to see everything in a full day if you get there first thing in the morning?

    • Hey EG,
      Yeah if you arrive at opening you can certainly see the majority of the park. If it is super busy (during summer holidays or over Christmas period) then you may not get a chance to ride all rides but we visited in August and were able to ride the ones we wanted to ride and tour the park within a few hours.

  14. I was a kid when I first had the pleasure of visiting Orlando and all its theme parks and while, at that age, it all just seemed like a fairy tale, for my parents I imagine it must have been super-stressful. Certainly, now that I am older and have to make my own travel plans, I always take these things into consideration and bringing plenty of water is obviously great advise as even now I can remember near constant thirst back at Disneyland. Nice tips and definitely one for Orlando-bound parents!

  15. I’ve never been to Orlando and its theme parks, but I can only imagine how crazy such places can get. Personally, I believe I’d find it too overwhelming. Your tips would certainly enable me to enjoy my time there a bit more!

  16. These are really useful tips for theme parks. I hadn’t thought of riding as single people to get through the line faster. Also going on rides during the parade is a good one. I like the rides more.

  17. Some useful tips there. I have only been to Paris Disneyland when I was a child, never been to US.

  18. interesting that they don’t sell gum…maybe they are trying to keep people from chewing and spitting it around? I like your tip about starting at the back of the park and working forward! Brilliant! I always tend to just buy souvenirs whenever, but you have a great point about buying at the end so you’re not carrying i it 🙂

  19. I didnt realize how many useful tips there can be for visiting disneyland. I agree though – it’s a rough place to be when it’s hot and crowded. thanks for these lovely tips.


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