Know Before You Go: 7 Tips for Orlando Theme Parks

Know Before You Go: 7 Tips for Orlando Theme Parks

Expert advice for Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort By: Samantha Davis-Friedman
<p>Keep kids happy by checking height requirements at WDW in advance. // © 2015 Walt Disney World</p><p>Feature image (above): Hard Rock Hotel at...

Keep kids happy by checking height requirements at WDW in advance. // © 2015 Walt Disney World

Feature image (above): Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando gives Express Passes. // © 2015 Universal Orlando


There’s No Time Travel Ride
WDW has an efficient transportation system that features buses that connect the WDW collection of parks and hotels. But be sure to cushion itineraries that include Downtown Disney, because the park buses won’t take you there. 

If you’re heading to Downtown Disney’s restaurants and shops, expect to head back to the hotel first. From Disney’s Contemporary Resort, it’s about a 20-minute bus ride to Downtown Disney.

Stroll Solo
While WDW rents out strollers, they cannot be taken between parks. Parents must return strollers as they leave each park, so tell them to keep their receipt to pick up strollers at their next destination.

Fast Passes for the Win
There are two ways to access the Fast Pass system at WDW: at kiosks located throughout the parks or via the My Disney Experience smartphone app. 

Guests can book Fast Passes in advance if they prepurchase park tickets and/or stay in on-site hotels. Because of this, guests who purchase tickets after they arrive may find some attractions have no Fast Passes available. 

Another caveat for those not booking early: Fast Passes can only be booked for the park that guests are currently in. If clients insist on winging it, tell them to seek out the help of cast members at Fast Pass kiosks and to use the app for map and wait-time information.

Alice in Wonderworld
Disneyland regulars should know that height requirements at the Magic Kingdom park might be different than those for the same ride at Disneyland. To avoid meltdowns, parents should check height restrictions beforehand. For example, Space Mountain at Disneyland accepts shorter kids than the same ride at the Magic Kingdom.


Sorting Hat Blues
No one wants to be in Slytherin. As a travel agent, where you book your clients strongly affects their fate — specifically when it comes to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. 

Guests staying on-site get access to this popular attraction (and the Escape From Gringott’s ride) one hour before the park opens, an advantage that may be worth a one-night stay in an on-site hotel even if staying elsewhere for the rest of the trip. 

Guests at Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort also receive complimentary Express Passes, allowing unlimited expedited entry onto some of the most popular rides.

Room to Not Ride
For rides with height requirements, Universal has designated “child swap” rooms. The rooms are at the front of the line and feature air conditioning, seating and even television — but you can’t leave kids alone there. 

Families wait in line together and then one parent can stay in the room while the other rides. After the first parent rides, ride operators will direct him or her straight to the child swap room and the other parent can immediately get onto the ride. No need to wait in line twice.

Prospective Students
Guests who don’t meet height requirements or don’t want to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey can still see the inside of Hogwarts Castle. Simply ask the Hogwarts students at the entrance for a tour, and they will allow you to bypass the ride queue. Magic!