Whether it's a one day getaway, or you're stepping into another country and taking part in a full-blown holiday, visiting theme parks, particularly when it comes to families, can be an exhausting process before you even turn up at the front gate. And let's face it, with park tickets getting more and more expensive, you want to make sure you cent every penny from your admission fee. So these are my top tips that for visiting parks big and small right across the world.
Picture: Getty Images
10. Pre-purchase your tickets
You'll save yourself heaps of time not standing in a queue at the front gate if you've sussed out your tickets before you've arrived. Most travel agents or park websites will make this very easy for you, and it will mean you'll get to skip the first queue of the day and get in a few rides while other people are still processing payments. Picture: auto-car
9.Get there on time
Parks are always quietest in the first few hours of operation. Always aim to get there 15 minutes before the official opening time; most parks will open the park before opening the rides themselves, which gives you a great opportunity to get a few rides done quickly before the park fills up. Picture: Sean MacEntee
8.Eat a hearty breakfast
This seems counter-intuitive. You don't want to spew on the rides, right? Wrong. Much like travel sickness, your best bet is to hit those extreme Gs with a full stomach. It'll also mean you'll be less inclined to snack on high-priced junk during the day, which will save you heaps of time along with keeping your wallet happy. Picture: Iain Patterson
7. Buy a locker for your junk and travel light
You don't need to take your crap with you everywhere, especially when there's water rides. Don't worry about Facebook, it'll still be there even when you've done living your life without it for the day. It'll make moving around easier, you won't have to worry about items being stolen in a place you're not familiar with, and with rides that don't allow any loose articles, it'll mean everyone will be able to ride without the need for a designated bag/cat/lunch lady. Picture: Dushan & Miae
6.Seriously, get there on time
It's already been said, but do it and stick to it. Even if you get up an hour earlier just to make sure you get there before the rides open for the day will mean you'll be able to walk on to the park's busiest rides without any hassle. You'll save hours queuing up which can be better spent elsewhere. Picture: Loren Javier
5.Respect other guests
Don't queue jump. Seriously, don't be that guy. It's the equivalent of talking in cinemas. Just because you have a buddy halfway up the queue doesn't mean you should cut-off many others who paid just as much for the privilege of also standing in a boring queue. And let's be honest, you shouldn't have separated your group in the first place. People might not say anything about your act of disrespect, but they're definitely thinking it while their eyes are burning holes into your back. Keep in mind there's thousands, even tens of thousands of people all wanting to do what you want to do, which is ultimately to have a fun day. Be respectful of others and their space. Don't sit up on that rail ledge where your butt is invading someone else's bubble. And don't sit at the front of the food queue for hours on end figuring out what sauce you want on your burger. Don't waste time dwelling on what could've been while you're still living out your day. Be happy, be courteous, be polite and be quick about it. Picture: troykelly
4. Don't leave your brain at the front gate: Read the signs
It's baffling how many people ignore the world's most obvious signs that are clearly there for a legitimate reason. "But my daughter is 100cm tall! She'll be fine for that ride that has a 120cm minimum height requirement!" No, she won't, she'll probably die and the first person you'll blame won't be yourself, it'll be the park for bending to your whinging, so pay attention to the signs and if someone with a badge says not to do that or it's not possible, it's just straight up not for discussion. These regulations aren't in place to ruin your day while someone gets a laugh out of your misery like say Karl Pilkington in An Idiot Abroad, things like safety requirements, particularly height requirements, are in place to all but guarantee you'll live to tell the tale. Yes, that means you can't stand up mid-ride, or toss coins, or get out your phone while going through the loop-de-loop. And with the amount of cameras they have around the joint, they'll know if you're up to no good, and in some cases, you'll be booted out. Meet the parks halfway and respect that despite rising insurance costs and the increasingly worrying western culture of suing everyone and taking no responsibility, they've still decided to let you through the gate. When it's your time to ride, quickly sit down, buckle in and when the person checks your harness, remember to thank them, it'll make their day. Picture: tcwmatt
3.Stick together as a group and go with the flow
The biggest problem groups face is that there's always someone who wants to plan the whole day before you even get there who eventually splinters off and wants to do their own thing, which means someone will get lost, and then you end up spending precious ride time pampering needy souls. Always, always, always stick together as a group and go with the flow. Pre-planning what rides to do ruins being able to efficiently pick and choose based on how the park is running. All rides have busy and quiet times. The best thing to do is to always start the furthest away from the main entrance and work backwards — most people just run to the nearest ride and start their day that way so the easiest way to get the most out of your day is to think differently. Picture: troykelly
2.Plan for off-peak and quiet periods
Generally speaking, almost all parks are busiest on weekends, public holidays and school holidays, so avoid these times at all costs. For the most part, larger chain parks will have more staff on during these peak times, thus making the day more tolerable, but smaller parks generally suffer. If you're visiting another country, check for all public, local and state holidays during the year — even though the last time I went to Tokyo Disneyland was on a Monday after school holidays, it fell on a public "sports" holiday, which made some of the largest rides in the park experience 3+ hour wait times. I try to always aim for Tuesday-Thursday. Generally speaking these are the quietest days at any park, best case scenario is you'll be dealing with a few tour buses and not much else. Picture: obskurra
1. Buy or find "skip the queue" tickets & passes
Most theme parks today offer different ways to beat the dreaded queue line, some of which are free, and some which are an up charge. Most Disney parks, for example, offer a system called Fastpass, where machines near each major attraction buzz your entry ticket and offer you a Fastpass ticket that allows you to come back and visit the ride at a certain time. The theory is that the park already knows when the ride will be at its busiest, so by offering you a return ticket at the quietest point in the day to a special Fastpass queue keeps the park's guests well circulated. These free variants are limited however, so it's best to get them as early as possible in the day.
Other parks such as Dreamworld offer up charge technologies that, for a set price per person, allow you to rent a gizmo or use your smartphone to essentially "virtually wait" in a queue for you. A busy ride might have a "40 minute wait" in which case, you can select that you want to ride that particular attraction, and in 40 minutes your pocket buzzes and you can walk straight to the front of the queue. Again, check with the park first if they have some sort of "beat the queue" technology and do your research. If it's a busy day, spending an extra few dollars to get on your favourite ride is generally worth it, which means you have more time to do other things while you're in the park. Some say it's a dodgy way for parks to make more money; I say it's awesome. Picture:
Benjamin Roach has spent over a decade labouring over design ideas and shooting content that wows audiences. With a background in hospitality and IT, he's the go-to guy for getting questions answered, and ideas forged. Follow him on Twitter.