We spent a day at Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure on the way home from vacationing in Florida. Orlando was three hours away from where we were staying so we left at 6:00 to try to get there around 9:00 when it opened for the day. We had a successful day but I wanted to share some tips for travelers who may be doing a theme park similar to what we did.

1. Account for Time Waiting to Get into the Park
We ran into some heavy traffic a few miles from our exit and then it took a while to get in the park and parked and then to get tickets. It was around 10:30 by the time we were headed toward the rides. In retrospect we may have been better off by staying at a hotel near the park allowing us to sleep in more and being able to get to the park earlier.

2. Download the Theme Park App

Most theme parks have an app. I knew this or could have assumed this but I’m old enough to where most of my theme park experiences were in the pre-app days so it didn’t occur to me to download the app. Hence, I made a rookie mistake and made a b-line to the Incredible Hulk Coaster. I was anxious to get started and had some of us had this prioritized as a ride we wanted to do. I didn’t think to look for a wait time sign before entering and we ended up waiting about 90+ minutes. Next time, I’d do this particular ride much later in the day as we found the wait times to be much much less. I recommend this strategy for the popular roller coaster in other theme parks as well.

3. Get a Meal Plan
We paid about $29/person for a meal, all you can drink souvenir cup and snack and it worked out great for us. We didn’t have to worry about pricing and staying hydrated during the day. We could just fill our cup with water, lemonade, pop, whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. We were a bit limited in where we could eat but the options were still plentiful. I would do this again as it took the stress off worrying about the expense as that decision was made when we bought the meal plan.

4. Single-Riders Line

We considered getting the “express ticket” but with good planning you don’t need it. Use the app to find rides with low wait times and when available, use the “single-rider” lines. Several rides had this option including my favorite, Spider-Man! This IS your express pass! My son and I waited 15 minutes the first time we rode on Spider-Man. And due to the kindness of the guy in front of us, we were able to ride together anyway! This saved us about 30 minutes each time we did it and we did this for three rides. Our family of five also did it for the King Kong ride and then too, we were able to be in groups of two, two and one (I rode separately) yet we were still all on the same ride, just not all next to each other. If you’re willing to do it you will save time allowing you to do more rides.

If you’re planning to visit a Theme Park this summer, use these tips to have an even more enjoyable day!