What do you wish you'd known?What are some of the questions you'd wish you had answers to before planning your first big family theme park vacation?
From Robert NilesWhat do you wish you'd known before you planned your first family visit to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Disneyland or some other big theme park resort?
Posted November 24, 2012 at 2:58 PM
If you're a trip-planning veteran, please take a moment to be humble and share with us a big mistake that you could have avoided on that first trip, if you knew what you know now.
And if you haven't planned a vacation like this before, please share a few questions to which you'd like to have answers.
Thanks in advance,
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Anthony MurphyWhile I am a veteran, here are some that I wish I knew the first time out:
Posted November 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM
Also, I wish I knew about the dining reservations for Disney online or on the phone 180 days early. Very important for the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
From Daniel EtcheberryI wish I had known that the queue for wheelchair users at Disneyland's Peter Pan (which is the ride's exit) is very short; from my point of view (which was next to the exit door) I was not able to see the end of the line, and I thought it was a long one. The line was not moving and I didn't want to miss other attractions, so I got out of the queue. Back home I saw a video of this ride (including the exit) and I was amazed how close is the exit door from the actual ride. Now I will never experience that ride because at Magic Kingdom one has to be ambulatory to ride it. Oh well, at least E.T. gives a similar experience and I don't have to get out of the wheelchair.
Posted November 24, 2012 at 5:38 PM
From Dominick DThat you have to be there at rope drop to ride Toy Story Mania.
Posted November 24, 2012 at 5:50 PM
From Chad HI wish I had known how long the bus ride is between Alton Towers and the recommended train station... Its a killer. If you're travelling with kids, staying in the hotel resort may not be a bad idea simply due to how far it seems to be from anything.
Posted November 25, 2012 at 11:28 AM
From Amy SmithI wish I had known that not everyone in your party has to do the same thing all the time. My first trip to Disney (I was a kid), my parents wouldn't let me ride anything that my siblings couldn't because it wasn't fair that they had to wait. If we had split up and then traded parents halfway through the day everyone who was able to would've been able to ride all the mountains.
Posted November 25, 2012 at 7:05 PM
From Kelly MuggletonI wish I had known about behind the scenes tours! I don't think they are as advertised as they should be at the parks, while they're not too bad online.
Posted November 26, 2012 at 5:19 AM
However I had to ask about the tour I wanted to take at Seaworld as it wasnt on any of the advertising boards at guest services.
I only found that Disney had Keys to the Kingdom etc when I became interested in park blogs etc.
A quick 2 minute check online can provide what the parks have to offer...but not everyone may think to look.
From Skipper AdamI cried after leaving the Orlando parks because I never thought that I or my family could ever be in a situation to come back. I wish I knew I'd end up with a career here so I would have relaxed a bit more.
Posted November 26, 2012 at 6:50 AM
From Flavio de SouzaI wish I'd known that the single line was a better option than child swap for couples with children in Disneyland and USH. I only discovered that in the last day of my vacation.
Posted November 26, 2012 at 7:56 AM
From Brian EmeryI wish I knew about the back free entrance into Islands of Adventure before I starting to pay for tickets….
Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM
From Mike GallagherI wish I knew what a P.O.S. Great Adventure's Dark Knight was going to be the first time I rode it. That's 15 minutes of my life (queue, pre-show, ride) I'll never get back.
Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM
From Tony DudaI wish I had known that an annual pass at Busch Gardens is about 1000 times better than the Fun Pass because you get free parking for the entire year for only about $20 more. Also discounts for food and drinks and merchandise.
Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:21 PM
From Betty Rohrercheck for unknown passholder benfits that can interfer with your trip. like bring a friend free
Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:59 PM
From cynthia heniseyComfortable shoes and a fanny pack are more important than style.
Posted January 18, 2013 at 3:07 PM
Single rider lines are often the best choice.
From Andrew DoughertyMoving platforms aren't good if your dad has bad legs.
Posted January 18, 2013 at 3:34 PM
From Duncan Hennyback in 1990 my mum and dad booked our first vacation to orlando and they chose a hotel in Winter Park (the langford resort) which was miles from all the parks not very practical
Posted January 20, 2013 at 8:16 AM
From Joshua CounsilI wish I had known that maximizing your time in a park does not equate to maximizing your fun. When I visit theme parks now, especially on extended vacations, I wake up early and spend the morning touring the park, the afternoon at my hotel relaxing, and the evening back at the park.
Posted January 21, 2013 at 12:55 PM
From cynthia heniseyRent a locker. Don't carry everything with you all day.
Posted January 25, 2013 at 12:24 PM
From Tony DudaThe majority of visitors at theme parks are idiots (or act like it on vacation)so expect that before you go and don't get upset when that reality smacks you in the face with a backpack or a shin with a stroller or scooter.
Posted January 25, 2013 at 5:39 PM
From Eric SThe biggest thing to me is that pretty much everything you need to know is on the maps or the times guides. Get a map immediately when you walk in or before if possible and keep it handy.
Posted January 27, 2013 at 7:06 AM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014
Get all of Theme Park Insider's reader ratings, tips, and advice for planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld, in our new 2014 Orlando guidebook! It's more than 200 pages of well-tested, insider information that will help you get the most from your vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)
Connect with Theme Park Insider
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2014 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr.
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive