Florida Attraction Tips
With so much to see and do across the multitude of parks on offer in Florida, planning your trip can feel a little overwhelming. But, by doing your research, booking activities in advance and following our tried and tested tips, you can make your Florida break as stress-free as possible...
If you’re heading for the rides and want to beat the queues, walk to the back of the park. Most visitors approach rides in a clockwise rotation from the entrance, so you’ll have a better chance of beating the queues.
Planning on taking the plunge at one of the state's waterparks? Pack waterproofs or a change of clothes for the water rides and seal mobile phones, money and any other valuables in zip lock sandwich bags to keep them safe and dry.
Many of the parks sell Fast or Express Pass tickets for their rides. Some of these must now be used within the one hour window printed on your ticket. Not all party members are required to wait in line, providing the person doing the queueing holds passes for all those who wish to ride. Check your tickets for details and restrictions.
Don’t forget the essentials...pack plenty of water, suncream and hats. Beat the heat by riding the water rides or taking in a show during the midday sun.
On your way to Harambe Village, look out for the last path on the right after the Tree of Life and before the bridge. It's a secret path, covered by lush greens, but it's still open to the public and offers some great photo opportunities.
Busch Gardens advises animal lovers to visit the habitats in the morning or evening when the weather’s cooler. During the midday heat, animals are likely to head for shade or enjoy a lazy nap.
Want to swot up on your favourite animal while at Busch Gardens? Hunt out a Zoo Education staff member (they’re the ones wearing the green shirts and name tags) and quiz them about the animals. You can even meet animal trainers at special “Meet the Keeper” times. They’re usually arranged around animal feed times, so check the back of your park map for the day’s schedule.
Disney's Hollywood Studios:
Disney’s Hollywood Studios hosts “Extra Magic Hours” for those guests staying at one of the Disney Hotels every Monday and Saturday, so if you can, avoid visiting on those days as they tend to be amongst the busiest.
As with the other Walt Disney World Resort parks, FastPass tickets are available for specific attractions and rides. You’ll be issued with a timed entrance to avoid waiting in line.
If you’ve got the stamina, stay at the park until the evening to enjoy Mickey’s “Fantasmic!” fireworks. Or rest up and enjoy dinner at one of the park’s restaurants while watching the show.
To make the most of Epcot, arrive early, ideally by 9am, and bypass Spaceship Earth until later in the day, heading instead for some of the parks biggest (and most popular) rides, such as Soarin’. Your afternoon will be free to explore World Showcase.
Autograph hunting at Epcot? While plenty of your favourite Disney characters can be found throughout World Showcase, there’s an area tucked in the right-hand-side of the Innoventions buildings where eager autograph hunters can meet a whole gang of their heroes in one go. Don’t forget your camera!
When planning your trip to World Showcase at Epcot, if you have your heart set on dining out on à la carte French cuisine or grabbing some sushi in Japan, make your reservations before you travel. As soon as you’ve booked your holiday, tickle your taste-buds by checking out what’s on offer and book your table as soon as possible.
If your little ones have duplicate mini-figures, bring them along. Many of the LEGOLAND staff have “minifigs” on their badges and will happily trade.
Like many of the parks, you’ll need more than one day to take everything in. A two-day ticket offers good value for money. Book your tickets online before arrival to avoid the long queues.
If you’re visiting the 4D shows, sit more than a few rows from the front...that is of course unless you want to get splashed!
Get creative! With all the LEGO stimulus around, it won’t be long before the kids are begging to get building themselves. Thankfully, there are plenty of play points spread right across the park.
With so much to see, planning ahead of your arrival at the park is essential. Ask every family member to list and order their top five attractions. First, get online and book anything you can, such as lunch or dinner with Cinderella, first. Next, take out your park map and plan your route, working everyone’s top two choices into your route. Remember, most visitors take on the park in a clockwise rotation from the entrance, so you’ll have more chance of beating the queues if you head for the back of the park first. Factor in any timed shows, such as the parade and fireworks, as well as meal times and snack breaks. If on the day you're done early, look back to your top fives lists and begin working your way back around the park, content in the knowledge everyone's happy.
Get there early. Sounds obvious, but as well as getting a head start on the crowds, by arriving at least fifteen minutes before the park opens, you’ll catch a special show featuring some of your favourite characters!
Stake out your spot for the fireworks early, you’ll be surprised by how early crowds start gathering for these and the parades. Great viewing points include the Plaza and the area between Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Carousel. If you have small children, who may be weary by firework time, consider setting up camp near the Town Hall. When the show finishes, you’re within easy reach of the Monorail without having to drag them through the crowds.
Queues and crowds are part and parcel of the Disney package, but don’t let them spoil your day. Be flexible, stay calm and enjoy yourself. Take time to take in your incredible surroundings and the magical smiles on the faces of your loved ones. This is once in a lifetime stuff.
Make a note of mealtimes, it’s the best time to really get close to the animals. Check on the day’s schedule as soon as you arrive at the park and head to the enclosures with plenty of time to spare.
Pack a waterproof disposable camera...those splash or soak zone signs don’t lie! A poncho won’t go amiss either.
Get quizzing! The SeaWorld staff are incredibly knowledgeable and infectiously enthusiastic about their animals, so challenge your little fact finders to ask away.
Book a behind-the-scenes tour. If budget allows, a 90-minute backstage tour will really leave its mark on your animal enthusiasts. They’ll get to touch a shark, explore a polar bear den and interact with a penguin.
Cool down in the midday sun by heading for some of the park’s cooler attractions. Wild Arctic is home to beluga whales, walruses and polar bears and has a seriously chilly indoor area. Penguin Encounter and Nautilus Theatre also offer some good cool off spots.
Dine with Shamu. You won’t have to pack a wetsuit, but book your table for this memorable event and you’ll enjoy dinner adjacent to Shamu’s enclosure. As you eat, you’ll be able to see Seaworld’s star, and some of his friends, having some laid back fun with their trainers. Magical!
Universal Islands of Adventure:
As one of the smaller parks, it’s possible to explore Universal Islands of Adventure in just a day. Unless you’re travelling with real potty Potter fans, in which case a two-day ticket may be more suitable.
Check minimum height restrictions before you arrive and avoid disappointment for your would-be superheroes. Children must be at least 40” to ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and those below 48” will need to be accompanied by an adult.
Eating and drinking in all the parks can get expensive, but Universal Islands of Adventure does allow guests to bring drinks, some come prepared and save yourself some precious dollars.
Planning on taking the plunge? Pack waterproofs or a change of clothes for the water rides and seal mobile phones, money and any other valuables in zip lock sandwich bags to keep them safe and dry.
Pack the essentials. Keep cool with sun hats, slap on plenty of suncream and wear comfortable shoes for walking and queuing.
Universal offers Express Passes, much like Disney’s Fast Passes. Buy your Express Passes to skip the queues on participating rides and attractions.
Guests over the age of ten can take advantage of Single Rider options. Since most visitors prefer to ride in groups of two, anyone willing to go it alone will often be able to skip ahead when the opportunity arises.
Carry your autograph book with you. Universal Studios Florida is one of the best places to pick up character scribbles, from Spongebob to Marilyn Monroe.
Don’t miss your turn to ride, just because you’re visiting with children who are too small to board. Most of the rides offer a “child swap” program (not as terrifying as it sounds!), it allows one adult party member to sit out the ride with the smallest guests, and then tag back in again when the rest of the party have ridden.
Lastly, soak it up. With so much to pack in, it’s easy to spend the day racing from one end of the park to another. Take time to take in your surroundings, the beautiful animals and the smiles on your loved ones faces. This is meant to be a holiday, after all.
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