You’ve planned and saved, prepped and packed and now you’re finally here — at the doorstep of Disney or Universal. While many visitors hand over their tickets and just simply walk in, veterans know that time is everything. If you want to see it all at Orlando’s theme parks, you need to cut time out of other areas. Waiting to get into the parks is one area where you can cut time out of your visit, especially if you follow these tips and tricks.
1. Don’t follow the crowds
Many people at Disney are visiting for the first time and have no clue where to start. Don’t follow the crowds or you’ll risk getting stuck in a cattle-like processional as people figure out where they want to go. Once you’re in, head straight to the back of the park and work your way up to the front, going counterclockwise. Typically, people start at the front where they enter and head around clockwise. Mixing it up against the crowd can help you avoid some of the lines once you’re in the park.
2. Find the shortest lines
Look around as you’re making your way up to the entrance, observing which lines are moving the fastest. Find the ones that are the shortest and make a beeline for one of those. Most people head straight to the middle, so opt for turnstiles on the far ends. You’ll have to walk a little farther but usually won’t have to wait as long.
3. Get there early
While all the major theme parks in Orlando have posted opening and closing times, they often don’t adhere to them. Both Disney and Universal typically open the gates anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before the posted time. Plan to arrive at least 60 to 90 minutes before opening time to have the best shot of getting in early. It also pays to stay on-site — when you stay at a Disney resort or Universal hotel, you get early entrance privileges. While it may cost more to stay at these accommodations, you’ll save valuable time at the parks. Early admission through resorts and hotels gains you an hour or more of park time.
4. Avoid the lines with trainees
While it’s important for new team members to train and get experience, these lines can often take twice as long. You can tell who is a team member in training at Disney because they’ll have a red ribbon on their name tag.
5. Pay attention to your fellow guests
If the people ahead of you have numerous bags that security will have to check, it will probably take longer. Also, families with numerous young children and strollers most likely will also take longer to get through the line.
6. Utilize “secret” or hidden entrances
At Animal Kingdom, for example, the Rainforest Cafe gift shop has a set of turnstiles right outside. If the main turnstiles are extra crowded, take advantage of this “secret” set of turnstiles. Just don’t get distracted by the cool items in the Rainforest Cafe gift shop!
7. Take advantage of Disney transportation
All forms of Disney transportation, except the Magical Express, are free. You don’t have to be a guest at a Disney resort to use them either. Buses leave each resort about two hours before the parks open to get you there early. They return up to an hour or more after the parks close too. Even if you bring or rent your own car, it can still pay to take the bus or monorail. Both drop you off right at the entrance, so you can save time walking in from the parking lot.
8. Buy your tickets in advance
Purchase advanced tickets to skip the ticket lines and head straight to the security lines. You’ll not only save time, but money too. Both Disney and Universal offer discounts on advanced tickets. You can also find cheaper tickets on websites like Undercover Tourist.
9. Eat breakfast ahead of time
Seems simple, but eating breakfast before you get to the park will save you money. If it’s too early to eat then, visit a few attractions and then break for breakfast.
When you stay at a Casiola property, you’ll be in a prime location to get to the theme parks early. Casiola’s properties enjoy close proximity to Interstate 4 and other major highways, so you can quickly and easily reach the best Orlando theme parks.
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