Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. No doubt many of you began planning your summer vacations long ago. But no matter whether you planned every detail of your Disney or Universal vacation last winter (or earlier!) or you've just started thinking about which parks you might like to visit this summer, here are 10 things that you should make sure not
to do on your next vacation.
10. Buy Your Tickets
Do you really want to wait in an extra line, and make a decision worth hundreds of dollars, the first morning you're at the parks? Buy your tickets before you leave home and you'll have the time you need to research the best deal. And with your tickets in hand, you also will give yourself a head start on getting into the park when you arrive. Now, if you happen to find some interesting roadside attraction that inspires you to stop, go ahead and buy your tickets for that when you're there. But don't wait until your vacation starts to buy the tickets for the major destinations on your trip.
9. Use a Selfie Stick
Want to get a picture of you, taken at more than arm's length? Ask someone to take it for you. Theme parks are filled with thousands of cast and team members whose job descriptions include taking your photo, when asked. And theme parks attract thousands of like-minded, potentially friendly visitors like yourself who probably would take a moment to tap that screen for you, too. Why, then, should you haul a selfie stick into the park, just to get in people's way on crowded paths? Every major theme park now bans the sticks on rides and during shows, too. Leave the stick at home.
8. Get a Sunburn
Sure, you want to get out into the sun after that nasty winter. But vacation is supposed to provide relief from the rest of the year — not more suffering. Take a few moments and spread on some sunscreen before going out into the parks for the day. Your skin will thank you later.
7. Carry around Souvenirs
If you decide not to leave your souvenir shopping until the end of the day, you don't need to carry your haul around the park with you until you go. Many parks have a free package check service for people who buy souvenirs in the park. Either the store can hold your purchases for you until you leave, or they can direct you to the place in the park that will do that for you. If you are staying at an on-site hotel, chance are you can have your purchases delivered to your room, instead.
6. Buy Stuff You Could Have Brought
When you spend money in the park, make sure that you are getting something unique that you could not find elsewhere. Don't pay theme park mark-ups for that plain Mickey plush you could have gotten at Target at home for several dollars less. Bring your sunscreen, pain relievers, diapers, baby wipes or whatever other supplies you will need during the day. (Or make plans to head back to the hotel to take a break and restock at some point.) Sure, parks have just about everything you might need available for sale, often behind the counter upon request, but you'll pay a premium. Save your money for something special, instead.
5. Spend Money You Don't Have
...Not only on supplies, but also on tickets, vacation packages or other upcharges that you can't afford. As part of your vacation planning, make a realistic budget that you can keep. Then do. Parks will try to entice you with upcharges for front-of-line passes, all-you-can-eat meal deals, character experiences, extra attractions, collectible souvenirs — anything imaginable to lure your money from your pocket. If you can afford it and want it, go for it. But don't leave yourself with credit card debt that will suck the money from your bank account to pay interest charges for months, maybe years, to come.
4. Force Children to Go on Rides
Yes, you want to get full value for the money you've spent. But trying to force your child on a ride isn't creating a happy memory for anyone. When your kids are crying, ride operators can't let you on the ride, or dispatch your ride vehicle. That holds up the line for everyone behind you, and creates a risk that the entire ride will have to shut down for your stubbornness. Step aside and let everyone in the family come to an agreement before getting on rides. And obey all posted ride restrictions, including height limits. They are there for everyone's safety.
3. Yell at People
Don't get mad at cast and team members who are trying to do their job. Don't get mad at other guests, who are simply trying to enjoy a vacation without having to hyper-analyze every moment. Not every moment on vacation will go as planned, and with so many people in a confirmed space trying to do the same things, conflicts are inevitable. But getting angry doesn't make anyone more inclined to help you. Being angry only makes you more miserable. If something goes wrong, try your best to remain calm and treat other people as you would like to be treated.
2. Push Yourself to the Breaking Point
Here's the key to staying calm in trying moments: Don't push yourself so far that you become too exhausted to maintain control. Take a break. Hit the high-capacity, indoor, air-conditioned, sit-down shows during the middle of the day. Make sure everyone has had enough to eat and to drink. If everyone's getting too run down, leave the park and head back to the hotel for a nap or a swim. Vacations are supposed to be fun. If you get to the point where everyone's getting miserable, it's time to walk away for a bit.
1. Accept a Bad Time
Here's our best piece of advice for visiting a theme park — cast and team members are there to help you. If anything is going wrong on your vacation, ask for help. Stay in control of your emotions (see #3 and #2), be nice, and ask for advice. Don't make demands. Ask for advice, instead. You'll get better results that way. If someone you ask cannot help, they likely will direct you toward someone who can. If someone in your family is sick or feeling ill, employees can help you to the park's First Aid station, where you can get free, basic care and treatment. Having trouble navigating your way through the park? Employees will help you craft a plan. You don't need to accept a bad time on a theme park vacation. Even on the most crowded and difficult days, there's fun to be had in theme parks, and the people who work there can help you find it.
What's your best advice on things to avoid on a theme park vacation?