• Surviving Spring Break in and around the theme parks

    By: Shelley Caran

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - The countdown to Spring Break has almost hit zero, and for many of us that means that we will be spending time with our family and friends in and around the many theme parks of Central Florida.

    And while that thought could send shivers down your spine, I am here to help with some tips and tricks for successfully navigating the parks and making the most of your Spring Break vacation time.

    Planning your trip to the park

    There are three things to ‘Be’ when you know that you are essentially stepping into a crowded theme park and they are Be Kind, Be Patient, and Be Prepared.

    Now while the first two are pretty self explanatory, the third one can be a little prove to be a little trickier. But with some solid planning, even a crazy day can be a great day in the parks.

    The first tip that I have is to download the official park apps, because they have all sorts of benefits from being able to see wait times to reserving return times for attractions. Walt Disney World has My Disney Experience, the Universal Orlando has information all of their parks, and the SeaWorld Orlando app will even help you find your car. 

    Not all tickets and passes are created equal, so be sure to check annual passes and previously purchased tickets for black out & expiration dates.  

    Find time savers in the park other than reserving ride times, such as mobile ordering in all of the Walt Disney World theme parks.

    Take it easy by spending time watching shows and enjoying the atmosphere in the parks rather than spending time in line. The theme parks are filled with great shows, imaginative details, and experiences that often times will have little to no wait. 

    For even more tips, check out my video on handling crowds in the theme parks!

    Spring Special Events

    Springtime in the Orlando Theme Parks is a busy time, but it is also a great time value wise because all three have Festivals going on now that are included with your theme park admission.

    Over in Epcot at Walt Disney World, you can enjoy the beautiful sights, fresh tastes, and concerts from fan favorites at the 25th Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

    At Universal Studios Florida, the Universal Orlando Resort is hosting their Mardi Gras celebration that is full of fun with a parade that can’t be beat, loads of beads, fantastic concerts, and food from the Big Easy. 

    Then over at SeaWorld Orlando, the Seven Seas Food Festival fills the park with delicious foods, craft beers, and wines from around the world with concerts for any music lover. 

    Off the Beaten Path Ideas

    Instead of beating down the walkways of the theme parks, why not consider going a little off the beaten path to experience something new!

    Over the past few years Orlando’s water parks have really stepped up their game with new slides, more offerings like cabanas, as well as dining improvements. Also, I REALLY enjoy leaving my phone behind and just taking time to play and enjoy the park. 

    Why not consider splurging on Discovery Cove, because it is an all inclusive day in a tropical setting that also includes unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in Orlando for 14 consecutive days around the date of your reservation. So while you might initially get sticker shock at the price, when you consider all that it includes you may change your mind. 

    Then lastly, think local! Why not check out local attractions like Andretti Indoor Carting and Games, one of the many escape rooms, visit a dinner show, or check out I-Drive 360 for SeaLife Orlando, Madame Tussauds, and the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye.

    Shelley’s Corner

    Don’t forget that over on icFlorida.com, you can find some videos I have created with even more tips for helping you navigate the theme parks!

    Here are a few that you may want to check out:

    Nine ways to successfully handle crowds in the theme parks - http://www.icflorida.com/web/icflorida/entertainment/attractions/nine-ways-to-successfully-handle-crowds-in-the-theme-parks/475692383

    How to pack the the ‘Ultimate Theme Park Bag’ - http://www.icflorida.com/entertainment/attractions/how-pack-ultimate-theme-park-bag/430222202

    Top 4 ‘Must Have’ theme park apps - http://www.icflorida.com/entertainment/attractions/top-4-must-have-theme-park-apps/430190823

    How to survive a rainy day in the theme parks - http://www.icflorida.com/entertainment/attractions/how-to-survive-a-rainy-day-in-the-theme-parks/534515547

    Nine ways to beat the heat in the theme parks - http://www.icflorida.com/entertainment/attractions/nine-ways-beat-heat-theme-parks/430188992

    What to pack in your ‘Water Park Survival Bag’ - http://www.icflorida.com/entertainment/attractions/what-to-pack-in-your-water-park-survival-guide/525807097

    Money Saving Deals

    If you still need to purchase tickets, our friends over at Visit Orlando have some great deals on tickets to theme parks and attractions!

    You can check out all the deals here, but here are a few of my top picks:

    • Walt Disney World Resort: Save 20 percent on four-day or longer tickets.
    • Universal Orlando Resort: Save up to $35 off gate prices for Park to Park tickets, including the all-new Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park.
    • Aquatica, SeaWorld's Waterpark: Enjoy savings of up to $28 off gate prices when purchasing 1-day with All-Day dining tickets online. 
    • Coca-Cola Orlando Eye: Enjoy a 14-day ticket offering unlimited visits to Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, and Coca-Cola Orlando Eye for $59 per adult, $54 for children plus tax.
    • LEGOLAND Florida Resort: Save up to $28 off gate prices.
    • The Escape Game: Save 20 percent off standard ticket prices for up to eight players with promo code VisitDeals20.
    • Capone’s Dinner Show: Enjoy 50 percent off all tickets, for a night of entertainment including dinner, drinks and dessert.

    In addition to these savings Visit Orlando is offering an extra 5 percent discount on already reduced ticket prices in honor of Spring Break. Guests can simply use promo code “SAVE5” on visitorlando.com purchases from March 5 – April 1 to save an extra 5 percent on all tickets. 

    Staycation

    If you really want to take your theme park experience to the next level this Spring Break, why not make it a staycation!

    If you choose to stay on-site at the Walt Disney World Resort or at the Universal Orlando Resort, in addition to the lovely accommodations and resort amenities you will find that you can enter the parks on select days before they open to the general public.

    But also check around the resort, because they will often have partner hotels that offer some of the same benefits at a reduced cost or where you could use loyalty points.

    Now if you want to be close to the parks, but also have a resort that is an attraction in itself consider a stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort. The resort is beautiful with wildlife inside their atriums, a water park with slides and a FlowRider, and from now until April the resort is having an Easter Eggstravaganza with special offerings and events.

    Day trips

    Looking for a great theme park day trip, there are two great parks that are around an hour away from Orlando.

    The LEGOLAND Florida Resort is just down I-4 in Winter Haven that is a LEGO lover’s perfect getaway. They have attractions #builtforkids, but adults will also enjoy reminiscing about their childhood and enjoying the LEGO models.

    Then further down I-4 in Tampa Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is filled with award winning coasters, animal interactions, and from now until April 29th guests in the park can enjoy their annual Food & Wine Festival.

    Cruises

    If setting sail is what you want to do during Spring Break, but you haven’t made your reservations yet, make sure that you are checking for deals exclusively for Florida residents and for last minute sailings if you can be a little flexible. But most importantly, don’t be shy about asking what discounts are available! Don’t leave money on the table!

    That’s all for this week’s Theme Park Thursday, but make sure to follow @icFloridaevents on Instagram and Twitter because we are in around the parks all the time bringing you extra tips, tidbits, and pictures to make you smile! But if YOU are out and about and take a photo that you’d like us to see, use the #icFlorida so we can share it!

    Next week’s Theme Park Thursday will be focused on the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival at Raglan Road!

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