Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Vote of the week: Early bird or night owl?

February 22, 2008, 10:12 PM · I've long advocated that people get to parks early in the morning, to get rides on a park's most popular attractions before the lines get long. But not every one's an early bird, and hauling yourself out of bed hours before normal ain't much of a vacation for most folks.

So... what kind of theme park visitor are *you*?

Notice that I didn't allow "both" as an option. ;-) Ya gotta pick one. Discuss in the comments, please!

Replies (27)

February 22, 2008 at 10:15 PM · Ideally I'm both, if my friends and I can last that long.
February 22, 2008 at 10:53 PM · In my area of interest (zoos/oceanariums), it's really best to get in early. This is especially true for any type of dolphin swim-with program. Spaces for those at many parks are first-come, first-served, so it makes sense to get in as early as you can to get a good spot.

For zoos, the critters tend to be much more active during the early morning or early evening hours. Middle of the day is not that good a time to visit.

Happy travels.

February 23, 2008 at 4:49 AM · Certainly not both, theme-park-wise. I don't recall ever getting to a park right at opening. On the flip side, I can't recall the last time (if ever) I've left before closing.

And remember, lines frequently get short near closng time if the park is closing late enough that day, especially on a Sunday.

February 23, 2008 at 5:49 AM · Since I am a true morning person, I am also a theme park early bird. That is certainly the time of day I feel the most excitement at any theme park. Though I have certainly been in parks during closing hours, and I actually enjoy the beauty of rides lit up at night, it still doesn't have the same level of energy for me.
February 23, 2008 at 6:14 AM · I prefere to get to a park about 1 hr after openning...dont have to wait long to get your tickets and most have gone thru the gates....
February 23, 2008 at 7:40 AM · Definitely night because sometimes the ride operators will let you go a second time!
February 23, 2008 at 8:24 AM · I am more of a morning guy. I may stay at a park till like 9:30 then I leave because I get there when the park opens. 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. is a long time.
February 23, 2008 at 8:29 AM · If your goal is to ride all the biggest and best rides a park has to offer, there is no question that getting to the big parks early makes your task much easier to achieve. Often you can get most of the major rides done before lunch, then the rest of the day is a piece of leisurely cake!! Another benefit of arriving early is that you can leave for the afternoon when the park is at its peak, rest up, swim, nap, etc., then head back to the park in the evening to enjoy the night time festivities. I call that The Best Of Both Worlds Touring Plan! =)
February 23, 2008 at 8:33 AM · I voted first, but based on these comments, may start pushing back my arrival till noon or later to catch the late hours.
February 23, 2008 at 9:02 AM · At Walt Disney World we always arrive early.
February 23, 2008 at 9:06 AM · I usually get there around 12 or 1, but if I'm at USF or Islands of Adventure I don't go without the Express Pass, so lines aren't a problem.

Disney World however, I try to get there early since I know I will be waiting for a while.

February 23, 2008 at 9:49 AM · Usually, I'm both.
February 23, 2008 at 10:42 AM · I will still to choose morning.

Some theme parks lose their magic at night. Beside in night, you can't really see anything. Morning's air also tends to be much more fresh and healthy, thus you don't get tired that much.

At night, it gets creepy. You see a lot of people tired, oh, that really lets me down when I see people tired.

February 23, 2008 at 10:55 AM · I am a night owl. Cooler air flows at night and the sun is not beaming down on you. It's one of major reasons why I like the Magic Kingdom alot. It mostly closes at 10pm or later.
February 23, 2008 at 11:44 AM · Im always a early morning person!!!! Since alot of people are too lazy to get to the parks early. It is the best to get to the park early, at least 1/2 to 1 hr early so you can hit alot of ride with little to no waits.

But I also often stay till closing, escpecially when on vacation where I use all available time to enjoy the park im at.
The only time I dont stay till closing is when I go to my local SF park where I make a half day visit and get in alot rides and leave when it gets really bad in terms of crowds.

February 23, 2008 at 11:54 AM · I am always one hundred percent there from OPEN to CLOSE ;) I am first through the turnstile and last to be kicked out. I just LOVE getting my money's worth.
February 23, 2008 at 12:12 PM · 30 minutes prior to park opening. Always have my tickets in advance and plan the rides to hit first. It always works - you get right on several popular rides within the first hour, then you can slow down. I always have to warn people when they join me on amusement park trips..."We're getting there prior to opening then you're going to move FAST for the first hour!"
February 23, 2008 at 1:37 PM · Walt Disney World Extra Magic hours is clearly the way to go for our crowd. The parks get real this during those times and we are able to cover as much during those extra hours as we are able to cover all day.
February 23, 2008 at 6:35 PM · I would have to say both cause I went to IOA at opening then stayed all day for HHN 17, I wouldnt want to leave cause then you have to deal with parking and walking back etc.
February 24, 2008 at 10:43 AM · I didn't choose either option simply because I can't think of the last time I wasn't both. When I went to WDW in October we got the gates at 9am (when Epcot opened) and got back to our car at 11:30pm (well after MK closed). I have done the same at Disneyland, Bush, and Universal.

For my local park, World's of Fun, I do both as well. There are days where I plan to go to the park and get there before the gates are open, spend a few hours there and come home. Then there are other days when I am bored in an summer evening and just decide to go for a couple of hours before the park closes.

February 24, 2008 at 7:13 PM · It all depends...I've been known to be an early bird to a park, due to the fact that the crowds are light at most parks in the morning. I do like to stay late into the night too...there's just something about the midway lights that I love. Even when it's crowded, I just like to be there. Many times if I'm staying closeby or on the property, I'll open the place, go to the room for lunch and a break or a swim, and go back in the evening. I'll have done most of my riding by then, so I'm in no hurry.
February 24, 2008 at 8:21 PM · It depends on who I am going with. My family are not early risers, but stay for the duration. I have gone opening to closing on many occations, harder to do as time goes on.

Do any of you do opening and closing but take a break in the middle of the day? During the summer it sure makes it easier.

February 25, 2008 at 4:43 AM · Personally, I like to get in as early as possible and hit the most popular attractions first, that way I'm not sitting in line for three hours to ride something once. Most of the people I've come with have learned to deal with that, at least on the first day going to a new park. Get your rear in gear, or you get left behind. That's my motto.

Subsequent visits can be taken at a leisurely pace.

February 25, 2008 at 6:11 AM · Mostly first in, last out. ALWAYS first in, last out for Disney's Hollywood Studios. I ride the Tower of Terror as much as humanly possible in one day.
February 25, 2008 at 7:23 PM · The first time we went to Disneyland we were so excited about being there and completely wore ourselves out being at the gate at 7am every day. Got home and felt like we needed an additional vacation. So we've learned not to set any alarms while we're on vacation and we just go when we go. We use the fastpass system at Disneyland/WDW and that works out well for us. Particularly at WDW and that humidity, we'll go to the park around 11-ish, see a few things and head back to our resort room for lunch and cooling off, maybe even a nap. Then we usually head back over in the evening. We have to keep in mind that it is a VACATION and one of the things we want to do is relax as well. This helps if you attend a park that has a similar fastpass system or a front-of-the-line type pass. I know a lot of people don't like having to pay that extra cost but to us it's so worth it, not having that feeling of rushing all the time.
February 26, 2008 at 2:20 PM · I ALWAYS get up early for an amusement park. That way, however many hours the park is open, you actually fufill your $50 (about) that you paid to get in. In some Six flags parks, they let people come in, but you have to stay in a small area without opening any rides and wait 20 minutes to officially open the park. I was very upset when I was stuck in traffic for a Busch Gardens Europe trip after doing a timeshare thing to get into the park for free. Like usual, they held us an hour late and we got to be at the park for 11 hours, not 13. A lot of others think that it doesn't make a differrence, but it sure does to me.

I can never seem to hold back my excitement when It's the day I go to an amusement park. That is the only time that I feel like waking up at 6:00 even though the park opens at around 10.

February 27, 2008 at 5:37 PM · I like to get to the parks before the official opening time to try and get to the big rides first. On the other hand I feel a park really comes to life after the sun goes down an the lights come on. Especialy after a hot day it can feel so good just to walk around after the sun sets and a cool breeze blows.

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