Theme parks are lots of fun with a lot of things to see and do. You can enjoy your experience more when you are prepared. Here are some tips you can use to save some money and heighten your enjoyment of Orlando theme parks.
When to go to Orlando
Plan to visit Orlando theme parks when they are less busy. Summer, Spring Break, holidays and school vacations are about the worst times to go. If you must go at peak season, expect to spend much of your time jostling through the crowds and waiting in line.
Off-peak, which is when Orlando theme park crowds are much smaller is January to mid February and August to mid-December.
These Theme Parks tend to be the busiest on the following days
The busiest and least busy times of the year to visit Orlando Theme Parks
• January (except New Year's Day) until just prior to Presidents' week in February (third Monday)
• The week following Labor Day until just prior to Thanksgiving (U.S.) week
• The week following Thanksgiving (U.S.) until the week prior to Christmas
• After Presidents' week in February (third Monday) through early March
• Late April through early June (except Memorial Day weekend)
•The first part of Thanksgiving (U.S.) week
• Presidents' week in February (third Monday)
• Mid-March through Late April ("Spring Break")
• Memorial Day weekend
• Mid-June through Labor Day
• Thanksgiving Day (US) and weekend
• Christmas week through New Year's Day
How to enjoy your visit
The following tips will help you make the best of your visit to Orlando theme parks.
List the attractions you simply must see and plan your theme park experience around them. Theme parks are huge and filled with a lot of things to see and do, which can be overwhelming. If you don’t have a plan, at the end of the day you may feel dissatisfied because you didn't visit all the attractions you really wanted to see.
Make a budget on how much you will spend while in the theme park. It is easy to get carried away and want to buy every cute theme character or T-shirt you see. And they aren’t cheap!
Do what’s necessary to keep cool. Florida summers are extremely hot and humid, so it’s very important that you stay hydrated and dress appropriately. You will need hats, sunglasses and sunblock to keep out the sun.
Most theme parks do not allow food or drinks so make sure that your budget includes purchasing water and look out for the water fountains.
Choose water over juice, soda and alcoholic beverages when you are thirsty. Such drinks will not adequately quench your thirst.
Start to prepare for your theme park experience two days before your visit. Drink enough water to hydrate your body.
Make sure everyone has a good breakfast before you leave for the park. This will help you save some money. If you drive, consider storing some lunch in your car. Around lunchtime, you can take a trip to your car. Make sure you get your hand stamped so you can return to the park!
Arrive as early as possible. This way you will have more time to see more attractions and there will be less of a crowd to deal with. More people arrive at theme parks in the afternoon.
Remember where you parked! When in a hurry to get to the fun, most people just park their cars and hurry off, forgetting to take note of their parking spot. Look for the numbers on the lampposts if you are parking outside. If you use a parking lot, take note of the level as well as the section.
Bring your camera, and film or extra memory cards. Expect to take lots of photographs during your visit. If you forget your camera or don’t have one, you can purchase a disposable version at a souvenir stores in the park. Of course, it will be less expensive to buy this before you get there.
Planning your day at the theme park
Wear comfortable shoes. These are a must!. Theme parks are huge and you will be doing a lot of walking. You could be on your feet quite a bit more than you may anticipate. For this reason, we do not recommend wearing flip-flops or heeled shoes to the parks.
Remember to apply your sunscreen. Remember Florida is the Sunshine State. Trust me It doesn't take long to get sunburned. If you plan to get on a water ride, make sure your sunscreen is waterproof. If not, remember to apply more sunscreen when you get off the ride.
Sunglasses is a must have. They will help protect your eyes from the bright sun. If the kids have sunglasses, bring them also. Don't spend all day squinting.
Pack a Baseball cap or wide brimmed hat. Hats will help to shield your eyes and face from the Florida sun. This is especially essential for men with bald or shaved heads.
Swimwear is very essential. Sooner or later you'll want to cool off in the pool while you're in Orlando or head to one of the great Orlando Water Parks.
Take garbage bags with you to save some money. If there are rides or shows (SeaWorld) that involve some water and you don’t want to get wet. Garbage bags are an inexpensive way to stay dry. You won’t need to buy raincoats and you can throw these away when you are done. Just cut a hole at the top and at the sides for your head and arms. Take enough for everyone.
If you are planning your vacation in the winter (between December and February), remember to pack a light jacket or sweatshirt. It can actually get a little cold in Florida. Always check the weather forecast for the entire length of your stay, especially if you're visiting in the winter.
If you plan to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom or Bush Gardens Tampa, you should know that animals at animal exhibits are active in the mornings so visit early. You can also find out, ahead of time, the best times to visit these exhibits.
Don't forget to bring any essential medications you or your family will need during your visit to Orlando. When visiting the theme parks, you can stop by Health Services at each park for assistance with storing your daily medication.
For Disney Resort guests, it helps to take a break in the afternoon, especially if you are planning to enjoy the extended evening hours. Theme parks get extremely crowded in the mid-day, so this is often a good time to get out of the crowd and spend a couple hours relaxing back at your resort hotel. Plan to return to the park in the late afternoon or evening to fully enjoy the rides when everyone except for Disney Resort guests has left the park.
If your child needs diapers, make sure to bring lots of them.
Although children have a lot of energy to burn, they won’t handle long walks through the theme park well. Remember to take frequent breaks. If you are on a multiple day trip to Orlando, take breaks in between days. With younger children, long days in the park back to back can get really miserable.
Bring a stroller for young children or consider renting one.
Take a pack of Wet wipes. These are a good idea if you're traveling with kids, especially if they're going to be snacking.
Bring sunscreen. You may not burn easily, but for little kids, this is something you don't want to do without.
Take a backpack for your stuff. This will help to keep your hands free.
Acceptable and Prohibited items at Orlando theme parks
• Bottled water
• Small snacks that do not require heating
• Any food required for medical purposes and medically–indicated nutritional supplements
• Any food required for special dietary needs
• Baby food/baby formula
• Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5" wide x 6" high x 6" deep
• Picnic lunches
• Food that requires heating or refrigeration
• Alcohol and glass containers
• Hard-sided coolers
• Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5" wide x 6" high x 6" deep
• Coolers, suitcases, and bags with wheels
Please be advised that all bags and personal items are subject to inspection.
Do not bring your passport, airline tickets, and all your money to the theme parks. We recommend that you pack only basic essentials and leave valuable items in your hotel safe.
Orlando Water Park Tips
Apply a waterproof sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Typically, water- resistant sunscreens lose their SPF after 40 minutes in the water, so be prepared to reapply when needed.
Concrete walkways and steps to rides can get very hot in high temperatures. Wear non-slip foot-wear as protection.
Most rides have a 36-inch (91-cm) minimum height requirement for kids riding alone.
For ladies avoid wearing two piece bikinis. High speed rides can leave your top exposed. Wear one piece swim suits and consider adding a T-shirt for added protection.
Renting a car while in Orlando is not a necessity. Many hotels offer free shuttles to the major attractions, allowing you can save on car rental. However, If you have small children, it's often convenient to have a car so you can return to your hotel on your own schedule.
A great way to stay cool is to bring a big Ziploc bag and a washcloth. Wet the washcloth, and fill the Ziploc bag with ice before you leave your hotel. When the heat gets bad, pull it out and blot down.