Travel Tuesday: Tips to make your theme park trip a dream, not a nightmare

Jan. 22, 2015 file photo of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. Jae C. Hong/AP

It’s travel Tuesday, where we check in with travel expert Claire Newell from Travel Best Bets for tips to make your next vacation a breeze. 

On average families spend more than $1,000 per person for a trip to the promised land of theme parks.

With that kind of outlay, you’d think that visitors would pretty much know what they want to see, what they want to do and how to go about seeing and doing them.

But by and large they don’t.

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Plan your visit. Buy a guidebook. Read reviews. Check out the park’s website. Then plan what you want to see and do.

Have a “Plan B.” It is not uncommon for an attraction or ride to be closed. In that case, just move on to the next on your list.

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Arrive early. An extra 15 minutes waiting in line at the park entrance could cut an hour off of your waiting time for the most popular attractions.

Keep in touch. Go your separate ways, but arrange to meet back at a specific location at a designated time.

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Also, have a site selected that can become a place to reestablish contact should your party become accidentally separated. If you have walkie-talkies, take them.

Go deep. Once you enter the park, proceed to the farthest attractions first.

Theme park designers place stores near the park entrances hoping to catch you coming and going.

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That design can work to your advantage. By bypassing the shops on your way to the popular attractions, you will beat others who get caught by merchandise booths.

Leave mid-day.

Generally, theme parks are most crowded in the middle of the day. This is a good time to rest for a few hours, before returning for a second round later in the day.

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But be sure to get your hand stamped on your way out.

Finally, if you find yourself getting ticked off at slow lines, poor service or inconsiderate guests, stop and take a breather.

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A visit to a theme park is supposed to be an enjoyable event, not a stressful occasion.

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