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?
What 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?
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.
While I am a veteran, here are some that I wish I knew the first time out:
I wish I would have known that I can purchase most tickets online on the park's website sometimes for a reduced price.
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.
One that I am still discovering at Disney is the amount of free events that have going on at the resorts, Wild World of Sports, and Downtown Disney. There are plenty of items outside of the park that can make a cheap afternoon or evening.
I 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.
From Dominick D
Posted November 24, 2012 at 5:50 PM
That you have to be there at rope drop to ride Toy Story Mania.
From Chad H
Posted November 25, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I 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.
From Amy Smith
Posted November 25, 2012 at 7:05 PM
I 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.
I 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.
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.
I 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.
I 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.
I wish I knew about the back free entrance into Islands of Adventure before I starting to pay for tickets….
I 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.
From Tony Duda
Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:21 PM
I 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.
check for unknown passholder benfits that can interfer with your trip. like bring a friend free
Comfortable shoes and a fanny pack are more important than style.
Single rider lines are often the best choice.
Moving platforms aren't good if your dad has bad legs.
back 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
I 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.
Rent a locker. Don't carry everything with you all day.
From Tony Duda
Posted January 25, 2013 at 5:39 PM
The 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.
From Eric S
Posted January 27, 2013 at 7:06 AM
The 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.
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