We asked Vlogger and first-time Florida visitor Lucy Wood to put together all her top tips for helping first timers like her navigate organising a Florida theme park holiday. Here's the video she created to help if you're not sure where to begin:
1. Make the most of waking up early on your first days.
We found that the time difference meant that waking up early was much easier at the beginning of the trip when we were still running on UK body clocks. Waking up at 6am still felt like 10am for a couple of days, so this was a great time to book in a couple of early breakfasts, make the effort to go to the early opening hours of the parks, and do the whole ‘rope drop’ thing before you start getting adjusted to the time zone.
2. Have a vague plan in advance
Even if you’re spontaneous, chilled holidayers like us who don’t like a lot of structure, this is a different kind of holiday, and you kind of have to play the game a little bit along with the most organized of bookers. Because of attraction and dining reservation systems that some parks have in operation, you don’t stand a great chance at getting to do ALL the things you want to do if you don't and you might miss out on some really amazing things if not.
3. Book theme park tickets before you go
Again, even if you’re not typically really organized with your holidays, you definitely will not regret buying your theme park tickets with AttractionTickets.com before you jet off. Not only are they much, much cheaper to buy in advance, which makes it instantly worthwhile anyway, but it also means that you’ll avoid big queues on the day which can get really long and take up so much valuable theme park time.
4. Extra luggage space for outlets
Only really applies if you’re planning to visit any of the awesome Florida outlet malls during your trip, but we were really amazed by how great they were. We visited two during our holiday and said each time that we really regretted not giving ourselves a bit more luggage space to play with so that we could have done a bit more shopping.
5. Get to know the apps available to you
The Florida theme parks each have amazing apps that you can really use to your advantage, so take some time before you go, even if it’s just 20 minutes or so, to familiarize yourself with them so you’re not stood in the middle of Main Street trying to figure out how to use maps and the attractions reservation system.
6. Stay on site
If you’re still weighing up the decision of whether to book a separate hotel or villa for your trip, or whether to stay on site at the theme parks, I’d fully encourage you to stay on site. The perks that come with it are absolute gold dust. It means you can get early admission to the parks, transportation to different parks, the earliest attraction reservations and dining reservations, depending on which hotel(s) you stay at.
7. Book through an expert, secure company like AttractionTickets.com
If you’re a complete Florida beginner like Adam and I were, it’s so helpful to make your booking through a company that really knows every single detail you could ever need to know. Doing ours through AT.com meant that we found out everything we needed to know because they’re such experts. They provide guides on their website to loads of Florida questions and queries, they send info out with their ticket packages.
8. Don’t underestimate the weather or the walking
Everyone tells you before you go that a Florida holiday is intense, but you sort of just assume that people are either being dramatic, or they’re the type of people that want to do EVERYTHING. But no, trust me, your Florida theme park holiday will be exhausting. We walked at least 25,000 steps every day of our trip, so opt for the comfiest shoes that you possibly can. Don't risk new flip flops, cute new trainers, just wear your trustiest pair. And as well as that, it is HOT. It’s impossible as a Brit to be fully prepared for the heat, even in October it was crazy, so make sure you bring the essential trio.
9. Don’t go too crazy with restaurant reservations
Before we went, I kind of thought that we’d have to have dinner booked every night of our trip, maybe a breakfast booked every day, and a plan for lunch every day, but that’s absolutely not the case at all. Obviously the busiest and most popular restaurants will be worth booking in advance, and any that you’ve really got your heart set on, but in the end I’m so glad that we didn’t do too many.
10. Don’t try and do everything
Kind of a similar idea, but I think it’s really important to remind yourself that as much as you might want to, it’s just not possible to do everything during one holiday. Honestly, when you’ve never been to Florida or the theme parks before, it’s completely overwhelming and I totally understand why you might plan your trip hour by hour to try and squeeze everything in, but it’s just not possible.
Bonus 11. Take ID everywhere you go if you think you might want a drink
It’s not like the UK with the whole ‘looking over 21/over 25’ thing. If you look under 30 then they’ll want to see your ID and they’re really strict with it.