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How to do...FLORIDA’S THEME PARKSEverything you need to know about theme parks, passes and early entry
Early entry with Disney hotels
BE ONE OF THE FIRSTIf you are visiting Disney & Universal for the first time, make sure you read our insider’s guide on how to get into the parks early with Disney hotels.
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Skip the queues with Universal Orlando Hotels
EXCLUSIVE BENEFITSStay at a Universal hotel and receive exclusive theme park benefits. There’s a hotel for every style and budget.
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Theme park survival guide
26 ESSENTIAL TIPSOur tips to save time and money, from where to stay, when to arrive, what to wear and which attractions have FastPass benefits
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Disney 7 & 14 day Magic tickets
JUST THE TICKETThese open up a whole host of incredible benefits that allow you to discover a world filled with fun for all your friends and family...
Disney & Universal Combo ticket
TWO FOR ONEThe Disney & Universal Combo gives you all you need to enjoy admission to all that Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have to offer!
Theme Park Survival Guide
26 tips to save you time and money by Kathy McLeman
Kathy was one of the original travel bloggers, way back when the internet was new. On a year long round-the-world tour she painstakingly uploaded photos using super slow broadband speeds to 'Kathy's Diaries'. Here are her tips for surviving Disney World:
1. Do some research and decide which attractions are most important. If you can, tick these off first. If you arrive without a plan head for the furthest point and then work your way backwards instead of joining the procession from the entrance.
2. Try and avoid the Magic Kingdom on Sundays and Mondays. These are the first days after guests check in and most head straight there. Take the monorail, it travels to the Magic Kingdom main entrance and just stops at 2 resorts prior to arriving at the Magic Kingdom - a lot less crowded.
3. If you are not staying at a Disney resort avoid days when a park has Extra Magic Hours (EMA) as it will be much busier. Always try and go the day before or the day after.
4. During the school term American families tend to visit at the weekends so those days can be especially busy.
5. Stay nearby. Go early in the day and then leave the park as the queues build up so the kids can have a swim and a nap before returning in the evening.
6. If you really want to beat the crowds the best time to go is Mon -Thur during the first three months of the year! Or the first 2 weeks of December, after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. But it can be cold so dress warmly.
Earn Extra Magic Hours at Disney resort hotels.
7. Stay in a Disney hotel and each day you'll get Extra Magic Hours (EMH) which allow you into one of the Disney parks an hour early before the crowds build up and you can stay beyond closing time in another.
8. If you are staying in Disney's Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge or Polynesian hotels you'll also get to see the Electrical Water Pageant which is a show many people don't know exists.
9. Stay at one of these Universal Hotels - Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Orlando or Loews Royal Pacific Resort - and you can use your room key as an Express Pass allowing you to skip lines at both Universal Parks. (Except for Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey)
10. Make the most of your time at Universal Orlando Resort with Early Park Admission*. Universal Orlando Hotel guests and other select groups can access one of the following theme parks prior to park scheduled opening time (valid theme park admission is required). Early Park Admission at Universal’s Volcano Bay is thirty (30) minutes prior to park opening and at Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure up to one (1) hour prior to park opening.
11. Top tip. If you are not staying in a Theme Park hotel get to Universal Studios early in the morning. Customers have reported getting in as much as 15 min before the doors officially open.
12. Normally Disney raises its ticket prices in August and we suggest buying before then to lock in the lower rate. All Disney Parks require a reservation for the park outside of needing a ticket. Having a ticket does not guarantee entrance to your park of choice as places are limited.
See your favourite princess' in the Magic Kingdom
13. Do not try and do more than one Park in a day. It's at least 45min from one Disney Park to another.
14. Do sit down and eat but try and avoid the busiest period from 11-2pm. It will allow the kids to decompress and there are several places serving non-junk food. It's best to pre-book by phone or email as these can be busy.
· In the Magic Kingdom there's French cuisine at the Be Our Guest restaurant - the only place serving alcohol in the Park. There's also good seafood at Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square and Italian at Tony's which has a Lady and the Tramp theme.
· At Universal choose from Lombard's Seafood Grille or pub grub at Finnegan's Bar and Grill. Harry Potter fans will love eating at the Three Broomsticks and Mythos Restaurant has won numerous awards as best theme-park restaurant. There are also some good options at Universal City Walk like The Hard Rock Cafe and Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.
15.Busch Gardens. If you want to do the Skyride don't join the England queue which is always busy. Go to the France or Germany line.
16. Disney's Hollywood Studios. Get to the park as early as you can and go first to Toy Story Midway Mania. If you want to go on Rock 'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror get a Fast Pass for one before queueing for the other. Also now that Star Wars is open you can pre-schedule a time to visit so you don't miss out.
Soar into Epcot
17. Epcot. As soon as the park opens head to ' Soarin for a Fast Pass. Then go to either Mission:Space or Test Track and ride one followed by the other before heading back to 'Soarin. Go round the Park anti clockwise and go to Spaceship Earth in the afternoon when queues are short.
18. Islands of Adventure. When you enter Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey stay to the left if you don't have anything to leave in a locker (that's everything you can't fit in your pocket). It will save several minutes. On Men in Black aim for the red light in your own vehicle. Hold down the trigger, don't keep pressing it. You'll hit it every time and get major points.
19. Animal Kingdom. This park opens earlier than the others so get up early and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris for a Fast Pass then get a coffee or go on Expedition Everest before heading back to Kilimanjaro.
20. Seaworld. A good first stop is the Dolphin Nursery and when it gets hot head for Dolphin Cove where the viewing area is nice and cool.
21. Discovery Cove. Get there early. If you've booked a swim it's first come first served.
22. Don't get Fast Passes for live shows. Just get there 30 min in advance.
23. With older kids agree a place to meet in advance in case someone gets lost. Also suggest they stand against a wall as it cuts down the search area.
24. Take pictures of younger kids on your mobile. Write your mobile number on a luggage tag which can be attached to a belt loop or similar and explain to the child what it is for. Also show them what a park employee's uniform looks like.
25. Wear sensible shoes. There's a lot more walking than you think. And bring water bottles (which can be refilled from drinking fountains) and sunscreen which are both expensive to buy in the park.
26. Take a photo of where you park your car. You won't believe how many rental cars of the same model and colour as yours there are when you get back to that car park tired. You can park for free at Disney Springs and take the bus into the parks, it takes a bit of planning and a bit more timebut it saves money if you drive or rent a car.
Early entry with Disney Hotels
How to beat the crowds at Disney World
If you are planning to visit Disney for the first time, make sure you read our insider’s guide on how to get into the parks early by staying in Disney hotels
The magical Disney theme parks in Orlando, Florida, are one of the world's most popular holiday destinations where dreams come true for families throughout the year.
A magical experience for kids
There are so many wonderful experiences to be had during stays at an array of luxurious hotels - the only challenge is how to see and do everything, making sure you get the best value-for-money deals.
So, if you are planning to visit for the first time, or going back for another helping of family fun, there are a couple of things to remember - it's best to stay on-site at a Disney hotel and definitely worth buying a 7 or 14 day pass to all the attractions.
Grand Floridian Resort
When you book a room at any one of the Disney hotels the really big plus is being able to get in to all of the theme parks before the hordes arrive and be enjoying some of those famous rides and experiences without having to join a long queue.
And if you buy a Walt Disney World Ultimate ticket or a combined Disney and Universal Combo ticket you can save time and money and make the very most of every day of your holiday.
With the Disney ticket you have access to the four famous parks - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom - as well as admission to two exciting night-time entertainment districts, and a state-of-the-art sports complex, Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland Miniature golf courses.
And with the new Combo ticket you can add the Universal experiences to the list with visits to the amazing film studios, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Volcano Bay water theme park and great live entertainment venues at CityWalk.
Disney's Swan Resort
When you are staying on site at one of the Disney hotels, as well as the quick and easy access to the theme parks you also have countless opportunities for dining, shopping and recreation. And extra treats are also available to guests of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
If you can't get in to any of the on-site Disney hotels, there are also special rates available at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Caribbean Beach Resort, Contemporary Resort, Coronado Springs Resort, Fort Wilderness Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Old Key West Resort, Polynesian Resort, Pop Century Resort, Saratoga Springs resort, and the Yacht Club Resort.
Early admission with Universal Orlando Hotels
Skip the queues with Universal Orlando Hotels
If you are planning to visit Universal Studios for the first time, make sure you know how to beat the queues by staying in one of the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels.
The fantastic world of Universal Studios presents one of the most exciting
and exhilarating holiday experiences the whole family can enjoy.
The only problem you will face is how to fit everything in at all three
theme parks. To help with this we advise you reap the many exclusive theme park
benefits by staying in one of Universal’s uniquely themed hotels, close to the
Wonderful wizardry in Diagon Alley
It couldn’t be easier. There’s a choice of hotels to suit every style
and budget. and you’ll be guaranteed to get more ride time, more free time and
more family time every day of your holiday.
Features include early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry
Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay (with valid tickets). Free shuttles from
your hotel to the parks, free selected Citywalk club access, free merchandise
purchase delivery and convenient room charging facilities throughout the
The sun always shines at Universal's Endless Summer Resort
The following hotel ratings are available. Premier hotels promise
distinguished service, spacious accommodations, unique experiences and more.
Preferred hotels offers a relaxing getaway with the perfect blend of
resort conveniences and amenities.
Universal Orlando’s Prime Value hotels are resorts with rooms and suites
designed for fun and affordability.
And the first new Value properties, Universal's Endless Summer Resort -
Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites provide an extra
affordable, free-spirited vibe.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
In addition, guests staying at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock
Hotel®, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel can also skip the regular lines with FREE
Universal Express Unlimited ride access at Universal Studios Florida and
Universal's Islands of Adventure (Valid ticket required). Plus enjoy priority
seating at select restaurants throughout Universal Orlando Resort.
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Other services which make a trip special
Amazing Business Class Fares
Save on First & Business Class
Save on First & Business Class Fares
Let us extend the personalised service of your booking into your holiday with great prices on business class flights ready to add a touch of class to your trip.
Take the stress out of travelling with a host of wonderful perks on offer from priority check-in and premium lounge access to chauffeur service and fine in-flight dining, plus the supreme comfort of a fully-reclining seat.
Call us to see how much you could save on Business Class flights.
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Relax in comfort before you fly
Beat the airport chaos. Swap the crowds for a luxury lounge
Airport Lounges from £25
Once you’re through security leave the crowds, kids and chaos behind you with a visit to one of our comfortable airport lounges.
All offer complimentary food, drinks, wifi and newspapers with some also including Fastrack through security. Prices from £25.
Use our speedy private transfer service to avoid the stress of finding your way out of the airport terminal and looking for a taxi or bus on arrival.
With our meet and greet service, our driver will meet you in the arrivals hall. They will monitor flight arrival times giving you peace of mind that someone will be waiting for you with a name board even if your flight is late.
They will then assist you with your luggage and organise a private transfer directly to your hotel - there’s no waiting around for other passengers for shared transfers!