by Oliver Brendon, founder of ATD
Just like you, we love theme parks, but hate the prospect of big queues. It needn't be like this though, for there are a number of ways you can beat the dreaded lines...
We see the same questions over and over again about the queues in Orlando. "What are the queues like in Orlando in July?", "What are the queues like in Orlando in August?", "When's the quiestest time to visit Orlando?". Although we give lots of great advice on when's the best time to visit for shorter queues among other advice in our Expert Guide, we also love to recommend the following tips and tricks for beating the queues in Orlando...
One of my children calls me ‘the most impatient man on earth’ and whilst that is probably a slight exaggeration, it is certainly true that I don’t like queuing which can be a problem at theme parks. I have been in Florida over Easter and we spent 5 days in Orlando during the US Spring Break which is a really busy time as it coincides with Easter. Here are my top tips for avoiding long queues.
Things you can do for free
1. Get there early. This is always, always the number one tip but it’s amazing how many people ignore it. We got to Blizzard Beach at 8:30am, the park opened at 9am and we had gone down every water slide by 10:30; By the time we left at lunchtime, the park was fairly packed. Similarly at Universal Studios, the park seemed quiet before midday but after lunch, queues for the major rides were all over 60 minutes. We tended to arrive early, go back to the hotel in the afternoon during the hottest part of the day and go back to the parks in the early evening to do a few rides and watch the fireworks.
2. Do the newest, most popular rides first.
3. Go to the back of the park first and work towards the front.
4. Pre-book Disney rides 30 days in advance using Disney’s FastPass+ system. All of our Disney tickets are FastPass+ enabled and you will get the widest choice of rides and ride times if you book them exactly 30 days in advance. The later you leave it, the less choice you’ll have. For more details of FastPass+, click here.
5. Pre-purchase real tickets, not vouchers. All of our tickets to the major theme parks are actual, gate ready tickets so you will be able to go straight into the park rather than queue to exchange a voucher for a ticket. It is always better value to pre-purchase.
6. Avoid US School holidays if you can. Spring break tends to be at the beginning of our Easter school holidays and US schools usually go back during the 3rd week of August but there are other holidays to watch out for also; for example, Thanksgiving Weekend is usually the third weekend of November and the parks are packed from Thursday to Sunday. If you can visit in September, you won’t queue for a single ride and you’ll also probably get great weather.
Things that you can pay for
1. Buy a Universal Express ticket. Express queues at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are usually a maximum of 15 minutes long although they aren’t valid on Escape From Gringotts, The Hogwarts Express or Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey so if you do buy an Express Ticket, it’s still advisable to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions first. You can either buy an Express ticket on the day (the price varies depending on how busy the park is) or pre-purchase it from www.universalorlando.co.uk.
2. Buy a Quick Queue or VIP tour ticket for SeaWorld and/or a Quick Queue ticket for Busch Gardens and bypass the main queues and jump straight on the rides in some cases.
3. Stay at an on-site hotel. If you stay at a Disney property, you will be entitled to visit their parks during Magic Hours every day. The parks are not open to off-site guests during Magic Hours so the queues are considerably shorter. All of the Universal Orlando hotels allow you to access the Universal Parks before they open to the general public and three of them (The Portofino Bay, The Hard Rock and The Royal Pacific) also entitle you to Universal Express.
Best wishes from Sunny Florida.
Founder, Attraction Tickets Direct
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