ORLANDO, Fla. – Hi everyone, my name is Landon McReynolds. I’m a news producer at News 6 and a theme park writer at ClickOrlando.com. I’m also the author of the News 6 newsletter In The Loop: Theme Park Scoops, which comes out every Friday morning with some of the biggest theme park headlines you may have missed during the week!
This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, and it’s all about the best ways to tackle Central Florida’s theme parks. Is there a good way these days? It used to seem like our theme parks had slow seasons – but not anymore!
So what are some of the top tips to make your experience a good one?
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
plan ahead. What are some of the must-do attractions? How will be the weather? Any must-try foods? Find out about the parks in good time.
If like me you’re on your phone a lot, check out some of these reusable battery options. Most parks sell FuelRods. $30 once, and then you can always swap in new batteries at the kiosks.
If you are staying for several days and have a hotel with an incredible pool, maybe choose a day to relax. That’s called a vacation! Enjoy it.
These are some of my tips to get you started. But don’t just listen to me. I also polled some of the News 6 staff to get some of their tips.
Matt Austin, News 6 presenter
I would say never watch a parade. Parades are when all the people line the streets waiting for characters to drive by. The real experts use this time to take advantage of shorter queues! (Except for Disney’s Christmas Parade when it snows on Main Street. It’s kind of magical.) I’d also say that you should always make dinner reservations. You can eat whatever lunch you like, but you want to make sure you have a place for dinner. Otherwise, every good seat will be full and you’ll be stuck with a hot dog for dinner and your family will be cranky and cranky for the rest of the evening.
Lisa Bell, anchor of News 6
Don’t overlook the smaller attractions on International Drive. I have 8 and 5 year old boys and they LOVE Fun Spot Orlando, Dezerland and Wonderworks.
Ginger Gadsden, News 6 presenter
I would recommend going with a friend to keep your hand on the rides. Also, go if the forecast looks a bit bleak. When it’s raining lightly, you don’t want to stand in line.
Erik von Ancken, News anchor of News 6
Don’t even think about going there in the summer — unless you enjoy brown sweat on the hard-plastic seats, slimy grab bars, sticky melted ice, and smelly, cranky tourists in endless lines and heat exhaustion.
Justin Warmoth, News 6 moderator
I always advise people to bring a ziplock case to protect their phone from water damage. Works for both water rides and afternoon thunderstorms.
Bridgett Ellison, News 6 presenter
Prioritize a short bucket of experiences for the day and plan ahead, but expect surprises along the way and be flexible.
Don’t be frustrated or let down by unrealistic expectations of what you or your group can accomplish in a day or trip. Someone can and is likely to get frustrated, overheated, have a breakdown, or all together before it’s all over. It’s not magical, but it’s so normal.
Oftentimes a “let’s do as much as we can!” mentality can overtake you or your group as you anticipate your trip or day at the parks. Plan when you can, but resist the urge to seek gratification through volume and quantity. It’s a destination that dreams are made of, so stop, smell the flowers and food, enjoy the scenery, snap photos and make memories with loved ones while taking it all in.
Crystal Moyer, News 6 presenter
Is the park closing? As long as you queue for an attraction before closing, hop on the ride. (Also makes for some great photo opportunities after the park is cleared on your way out.) Wear leggings too! They are comfortable and dry faster than jeans after water rides. Ride the waterslides when it’s raining – zero line and you’re about to get wet. Don’t worry it’s safe they will close the ride if lightning is a problem.
Candace Campos, News 6 meteorologist
This one is for the parents: don’t stress out and have a total meltdown when you realize you forgot your diaper bag. I MAYBE I’m speaking from experience! Every Disney park has a baby care center. You can buy diapers, wipes, butt cream, pacifiers and even baby food (surprisingly at unreasonable prices). This small, QUIET, air-conditioned oasis also has high chairs, large changing tables and nursing rooms.
Molly Reed, News 6 reporter
Always bring a poncho to throw away at the end of the day or when you don’t need it. I would also recommend wearing closed and comfortable shoes and anything dry fitting. Eat an early or late after-hours lunch and travel clockwise around the world on EPCOT (from Mexico). Have a game plan before you head out. First think about where you want to go and then go geographically from there to save time instead of wandering around.
Erik Sandoval, News 6 investigative reporter
If you find yourself struggling in large crowds, just remember – you are there to have fun. Take a deep breath and enjoy. Sometimes I have to take my own advice.
Ezzy Castro, News 6 reporter
If you’re going to the parks on a budget, be sure to bring a water bottle that you can keep refilling. All parks have water fountains. A Disney popcorn bucket is only $2 to fill up during your stay and it’s a great snack to enjoy while walking around!
Carolina Cardona, News 6 reporter
Arrive as soon as the gates open and ride the most popular rides first before the lines get too long.
Sweetheart Roberts, News 6 reporter
Go when it’s cooler outside for a better experience. Running for hours in extreme heat is exhausting. Buy Mickey/Minnie Mouse Ears from Amazon before you go to Walt Disney World to save money. The ear headbands cost about $30 at the theme parks.
Jason Olson, deputy news director of News 6
As a father of three, pack snacks and water. Be sure to pack ponchos, too, because in Florida it can be raining one second and sunny the next.
Angel Blazquez, executive producer of News 6
Go to the most searched rides first, even if they are far from each other. Plan ahead on which ones are most important and spend time in the lines early when everyone is fresh and then you can explore the whole park a little later.
Tara Evans, executive producer of News 6
Wear athletic leggings or shorts, or athletic clothing made from dry-fit fabric. Even if you get caught in the rain, they’ll dry out quickly (because that’s what they’re made for) so you won’t end up wearing soggy uncomfortable jeans. Get a battery powered stroller fan – whether you have a baby or not. They’re nice and firm and, especially if you have a stroller, keep the hot little people from turning into animals.
Ken Pilcher, producer of News 6
I always stress anyone who has never been to a particular theme park — or hasn’t been in a while — study a park map/download the app before you go. See what’s open in advance and decide what you’d most like to do. The biggest way to miss out is by not having a game plan. Just hiking to a park and then walking around all day is a waste of time and money.
Ashleigh Coran, producer of News 6
Wear comfortable shoes. You never know how far you’ll go. Also bring some snacks for the kids.
Erika Briguglio, producer of News 6
Buy a souvenir mug, it will be a lot cheaper to get refills than constantly buying drinks. This is key, especially on a hot day!
Brooke Savage, producer of News 6
Epcot always seems to have a festival these days. If you’re interested in eating and drinking around the world, bring a friend or significant other. It can get expensive, so you might want to split some things up to keep costs down. If you want to eat at the theme parks and go to a specific restaurant, make reservations in advance through the Disney app, you usually have to do this months in advance.
Haley Coomes, producer of News 6
The ferries and the Skyliner are not just for transportation. A ride on the Skyliner is a fun pastime and a great ride option when popular attractions at Epcot or DHS have long waits. Discover the resorts and what they have to offer. During the holiday season, the Christmas displays are unique to the resorts and, in my opinion, more impressive than what you see in the parks.
Christie Zizo, digital editor
One of these cooling towels works well. Pour water on them, grab them, put them around your neck – they help. Keep replenishing your electrolytes. Peanuts, almonds, and bananas are foods that are easy to carry around the parks and help. Also, if you can get fruit like watermelon, strawberries, or citrus, that helps too. Also make sure to take air-conditioned breaks, especially in the afternoon between 2pm and 5pm. Have a late lunch, try to schedule shows or rides for that time. Also, some parks have spots that are inherently cooler, like Knockturn Alley at Universal or the Mexican Pavilion at Epcot.
Stacy Greenhut, Social Media Producer
Freeze water bottles. They thaw all day and provide cold water – you can bring your own bottled water and groceries. There are many times I’ve gone to a theme park and didn’t buy anything because we came with water, a lunch and our own snacks.
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