• Nine ways to successfully handle crowds in the theme parks

    By: Shelley Caran/OnTheGoInMCO.com

    With the busy season upon us at the Theme Parks and Attractions in Orlando, being prepared for crowds and longer-than-usual waits is a necessity!
    Here are 9 ways to be prepared for successfully handling crowds at the theme parks:
    1. Be realistic
    If you are visiting the theme parks during high volume times, you will want to prepare everyone in your group to be realistic about wait time expectations.
    Make sure that everyone is mentally prepared to wait in line for their favorite attraction or for the perfect parade or fireworks spot.
    If you go in being realistic about waiting, you will sometimes be pleasantly surprised by a shorter than anticipated wait rather than upset to find that 'everything' has a line.
    2. Be prepared
    While you don't want to pack like you are going on a two week excursion, you do want to bring items to the park that you may need.
    We've talked about packing the Ultimate Theme Park Bag before, but having these items on-hand helps cut down on a few stresses and unnecessary lines to purchase items you already have at home. 
    Also, don't forget to check the weather often so you won't be caught off-guard with weather woes. (Have I mentioned how awesome the WFTV Channel 9 Weather App for Apple or Android is lately?) 
    3. Have a good attitude
    Now this one is easier said than done, but try your best to have a good attitude when you are waiting. Everyone around you is in the same boat (or could be), and keeping a good outlook on things makes the experience better for everyone.  
    4. Prioritize Attractions, Entertainment, and Dining Experiences
    Since you will be waiting in lines for a large percentage of your day, you will want to make sure that you prioritize what attractions, entertainment, and dining locations you want to experience during your visit.
    Try to choose the experiences that are enjoyable for your entire group whenever possible, but be sure to find out what everyone MUST DO before they leave for the day.
    5. Apps to Download
    When you are in the parks, you want to make sure that you download their official apps to help better plan your trip and to find information during your visit.

    When you are in the parks, you want to make sure that you download their official apps to help better plan your trip and to find information during your visit.

    My Disney Experience (Apple & Android) – Where you can find all things Walt Disney World in one single app. Tickets, dining reservations, fastpass+ schedule, current wait times at the attractions. and your Disney PhotoPass pictures can all be managed from this single app.

    Shop Disney Parks (Apple & Android) – Shows all the merchandise available at Walt Disney World Resort, where you can buy them, and choose to either pick up your order in the park on the same day or have it delivered to your Walt Disney World Resort or home.

    The Official Universal Orlando Resort App (Apple & Android) – The app helps you navigate the parks of the Universal Orlando Resort, gives you a list of what's near you, and information about wait times at the attractions.

    SeaWorld Discovery Guide (Apple & Android) – With this app you can save the location where you parked your car, see show times, check the shortest route between attractions, and you'll even find a scavenger hunt where you have to collect 19 badges.

    Busch Gardens Discovery App (Apple & Android) – The app is very similar to SeaWorld Discovery Guide, but it also offers weather information, hours and show times, and the option to buy tickets and upgrades.

    Make sure you download these apps before you visit the theme parks, because they do require some set-up!

    6. Checking Wait Times
    While you are in the parks, make sure that you keep an eye on the wait times of both the attractions you want to visit and closest to you to watch for spikes and closures.
    A great time to beat some of the crowds at more popular attractions is to experience them during parades, shows, and fireworks. 
    If you are at Walt Disney World and using FastPass+ during your visit keep an eye on your email linked to your My Disney Experience account, because if an attraction is down during your return time you will be notified.
    7. Portable Chargers
    During your visit to Orlando's theme parks, you will find that you are on your mobile devices more than you think, and you may need to charge your phone while you are on the go.
    Now while you can find charging stations throughout the parks, it is a good idea to invest in a portable phone charger to keep in your bag with a cord. 
    There are many great options out there, but be sure to check that it is compatible with your device. 
    If you don't have a portable charger, Walt Disney World has recently started selling fully charged portable chargers that you can swap out throughout the park for a one-time fee. 
    8. Keeping busy while you wait
    If you find that you can't play the alphabet game, I spy, or concentration one more time why not download a fun game that you can all play together. 
    Our favorite family app is Heads Up, available for both Apple and Android devices, because it is a really fun game that we can all play together that has special Disney decks that can only be unlocked when you are in the theme parks. We always make new friends while we are waiting who want to join in the fun!
    Also, make sure that you keep your children's favorite apps on your phone for them to play while waiting in line or for waiting for parades to help keep them happy.
    9. Before you get in line…
    The last thing I do before we hop in line is check with everyone to make sure that no one needs to use the restroom, have a snack, or anything that would require us to leave the queue once we are in line. 
    While waiting in line can be a bummer, I hope you've found these tips helpful! We'll be bringing you more theme park tips in the future.

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