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Orlando Newbie...trip suggestions?

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OK...so yeah I've never been to the Orlando parks but my family and I will be going this May 14 - 21st. I live in So Cal and have all the major parks annual passes here so im a coaster nut and finally getting to go to Orlando is going to just ROCK! Here is how I think im gonna plan it. Any advice from you regulars on what to definatly hit or avoid would be much appreciated.


May 14th - Arrive in Orlando at 6pm, this pretty much wraps this day =/

May 15th/16th/17th - Disney 3day 4park hopper

May 18th/19th - UO/IOA 2day park hopper

May 20th - Busch Gardens

May 21st - Fly out 10am =P


Also anyone have a general idea on park crowds around this time?

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Well, first the bad news.


You're going to miss Star Wars Weekends at MGM (it starts up on the 20th), and you're way too early for Gay Day.


Okay, from a crowd standpoint, that's a pretty good thing.


First off, where are you staying? This can have an impact on a few things (arrive at 6pm and your days over? I'm sure we can find something much better to do than that). Plus, if you're on Disney property you can take advantage of all that "magic hours" stuff where the parks open/close earlier. If you're on Universal property, you spent too much BUT the unlimited Express line is pretty dang nifty.


Another equally relevant question is this: what are the ages of your group. If there's youngins' you'll have to modify stuff to fit their needs, just as old folks are less prone to jump on stuff like Mission Space (which can be advantageous, 'cause they're the ones you sent to Test Track to get your Fastpasses while YOU ride Mission Space).


I don't know squat about what kind of crowds you're looking at. A lot of kids are out of school at that point, and that will have an impact. I'm generally an off-season visitor, but nevertheless I think I've got some tips I can pass on (but it'll be easier once you answer the above questions).

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Yeah, that first night you could still do stuff! Even if it's not at the parks you could hit Old Town (300' Sky Coaster and Dragster Ride), get a good meal, do DisneyQuest, and maybe there are some parks open late, but I doubt it.


Elissa "do you plan on doing Sea World at all?" Alvey

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If you can squeeze it in somewhere, seaworld would be a good idea too by the way.


The following is a list of rides and other atractions that you chould hit while in orlando in roughly the order in which you should ride them:


Uniersal Studios

New York

Revenge of the Mummy

San Fransisco

Earthquake: The Big One!

JAWS (you may get wet)

World Expo

Men in Black Alien Attack

Back to the Future: The Ride

Kiddie Area

Animal Planet Live!

Fievel’s Playland (for kids...and they will get wet)

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster

E.T. Adventure


Terminator 2: 3D

Entrance Area

Shrek 4D

Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast

Nickelodeon Studios

New York (again)

Twister: Ride it out



Islands of Adventure

Marvel Super Hero Island

Incredible Hulk

The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man

Dr. Doom’s Fearfall

Toon Lagoon

Me Ship, The Olive (mainly kids, but you can wet popeye riders in it )

Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges (WET!)

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (wet)

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park River Adventure (WET!)

Jurassic Park Discovery Center

Lost Continent

The Flying Unicorn

Dueling Dragons: Fire

Dueling Dragons: Ice

Poseidon’s Fury

The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad

Suess Landing

The Cat in the Hat

If I Ran the Zoo (kids)

Caro-Suess-el (kids)


SeaWorld Orlando


Journey to Atlantis (wet)

Penguin Encounter

Pacific Point Preserve

Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island

Shark Encounter

Paddle Boats


Clydesdale Hamlet

Shamu: Close Up

The Shamu Adventure

Shamu Rocks America

Shamu’s Happy Harbor (kids)

Wild Arctic

Ports of Call

Stingray Lagoon

Dolphin Cove

Underwater Viewing

Manatees: The Last Generation?

Key West Dolphin Fest

Turtle Point

Tropical Reef


Busch Gardens: Tampa



King Tut’s Tomb

Ride Train thru Serengeti Plain




Congo River Rapids


Stanley Falls

Tanganyika Tidal Wave



R.L. Stine’s Haunted Lighthouse 4D

Cheetah Chase




Rhino Ralley

Myombe Reserve

Great Ape Domain

Edge of Africa


Gwazi Tiger

Gwazi Lion

Mystic Sheiks of Morocco

Moroccan Roll

Bird Gardens

Birds of Prey

Lory Landing




FP= Fastpass


Magic Kingdom


Space Mountain FP

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin FP

Tomorrowland Transit Authority

Astro Orbiter

Tomorrowland Indy Speedway

The Timekeeper

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Stitch’s Great Escape FP


“it’s a small a world”

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Peter Pan’s Flight FP

Mad Tea Party

Mickey’s Toontown Fair

The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm (-)

Liberty Square

The Hall Of Presidents

Haunted Mansion FP


Splash Mountain FP

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FP

Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade


The Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management!

Pirates of the Caribbean

Jungle Cruise FP

Swiss Family Treehouse

Main Street U.S.A.

Walt Disney Railway* (around the park)


SpectroMagic Parade


Edited by vertgforces
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ok- still not done! lol...



Future World

Mission: SPACE FP

Mission: SPACE Advanced Training Lab

Test Track FP

“Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” FP

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Living with the Land FP

Food Rocks!

Soarin’ FP

The Living Seas

Leave a Legacy

Spaceship Earth

Innoventions: The Road to Tomorrow

Wonders of Life

Body Wars

Universe of Energy

Circle of Life

ImageWorks: The Kodak "What If" Labs



Cranium Command

Various Pavilions


El Río del Tiempo


Maelstrom FP


Reflections of China

Dragon Legend Acrobats



The American Adventure

The American Adventure FP





Impressions de France

A Chair Act

Imaginum- A Statue Act

Le Mime Roland- A Visual Comedy Act

United Kingdom

World Showcase Players


O Canada!

Off Kilter




IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (View from anywhere in World Showcase)


Disney-MGM Studios

Sunset Boulevard

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith FP

Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror FP


Star Tours FP

Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3D

“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure (kids)

Sounds Dangerous-Starring Drew Carey

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular FP

Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Show

Mickey Avenue

Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-Play It! FP

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

Hollywood Boulevard

The Great Movie Ride

Sunset Boulevard (nighttime)

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (again!) FP

Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror (a night ride should add to the twilight zne aspect of it) FP



Disney’s Animal Kingdom


The Oasis Exhibits

Discovery Island

Discovery Island Trails

It’s Tough to be a Bug! FP

Camp Minnie-Mickey

Festival of the Lion King


Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Kilimanjaro Safaris FP

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Conservation Station

Habitat Habit!


Maharajah Jungle Trek

Kali River Rapids FP

Flights of Wonder

Dinoland U.S.A.



Primeval Whirl FP (make sure to do both sides if your doing a coaster count!)

Cretaceous Trail

Tarzan Rocks!

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Wow...thanks for all the great suggestions folks. I'm staying in what seems to be a very nice villa on the outskirts of Orlando...I'm taking my younger brother with my family so we needed something with multiple bedrooms. Just me, my wife, my 10yo son and 13yo brother are going, so we can hit anything and everything. Most schools here dont let out until June so I was hoping to have light crowds. Yeah Elissa, my wife really wants to hit the Sea World park, I just wasnt sure where or if we could fit it in this trip. Although I know she is going win on that one (durn them women). I dont much plan on going to the Disney Animal Kingdom park at all so we may have to cut the Disney part into just a 2-Day'er and squeeze SW in.

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Yeah, Honestly, Sea World is better than Animal Kingdom anyways!


Have a good time, feel free to keep asking more questions!


Elissa "misses orlando" Alvey


That one hurts me.. ANIMAL KINGDOM ROCKS... I love the place, and IMHO is a Imagineering masterpiece... Sure it might not be the thrill ride park most people want here... But you have to admit that the imagineers did an amazing job...

Even with my nr one coaster at Seaworld (Yes Kraken is my favourite) I would still go for AK...


But tasts are different... So I forgive you (for now)

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Alright, you'll have to forgive me 'cause I'm feeling prolific tonight.


First off, you have to seriously consider what days you go to what parks. Since you aren't staying on Disney property, it is in your best interests to avoid the parks that have "early opening" for on-site guests. I have to imagine that that perk brings a lot more people to the parks in the early mornings (or maybe not - people can be lazy and sleep in instead). It's best not to risk that.


On the 15th, nothing opens early. On the 16th, looks like Epcot gets the hour early treatment. On the 17th, the Studios open early (this information was lifted from intercot, so don't be surprised if it ends up being completly wrong).


This brings us to the most important thing, something that I have to imagine a seasoned Cali vet knows - you're gonna get there early, right? If not, you're risking a lot... last Saturday, I walked onto the Hulk at 9am. An hour later the standby line was 60 minutes, and the Express return window was already at 4pm. If everyone doesn't appreciate the value of getting up at o'dark early, I recommend ya'll consider it.


Parking at Universal consists of two massive parking complexes, but you don't park *anywhere near* the gates to the parks. It'll take around ten minutes to get from your car to the exit of the parking garage (there's moving walkways - use 'em, but remember they're WALKways, not STANDways). At that point, you've entered Citiwalk and still have a good five to ten minutes to get to the gates of whichever park you choose (along the way, you'll pass Cinnabon and the pastry shop of Pastamore - just in case you missed that healthy breakfast).


For the Disney parks, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and the Studios all have parking lots that are conveniently within walking distance. This does not apply at Magic Kingdom - at MK, you park at the Ticket and Transportation Center, then catch a monorail or a ferry to the main entrances (if you have the time, the ferry can be quite serene. Watching the castle slowly get larger as you approach has a bit of magic all its own (then again, if you're a DL regular, you may not know what a castle actually looks like). For MK, you should be getting there around an hour before opening. For the other parks, you can give a little more time, but I personally always try to be at least 45 minutes to an hour early.


Universal is known to open their gates early. Last Sunday, I was in the park, on and off of Hulk and exiting the park before the posted opening time struck. I've never seen Disney open much earlier than ten minutes, but I suppose anything can happen.


The Florida sun is an evil wench. You won't know you're getting dehydrated until it's too late. Bring water bottles with you and refill them often. I don't care if you don't get sunburns - use sunscreen anyway. I'm sitting here with a bright red skull because I didn't think the sun would be a problem when it was only 50 degrees. It is. Don't even play with it.


You haven't really specified what parks you plan on hitting under the Disney empire (other than the fact that you'll probably skip Animal Kingdom (which I can understand, but not entirely support)). If you can give a good guess on that, I'll see what strategery I can cook up for you (I'll be back later with some Universal thoughts - believe me, I can get you through those parks with hours to spare).


As far as Sea World goes, planning ahead for that park can be exceedingly difficult because you're ultimately stuck having to plan around all the various showtimes. I don't know of anywhere that that information is posted in advance, so it's hard to say "go do Pets Ahoy, then double over to Shamu Stadium." You're on your own there, although I will chime in with "hit Kraken early, and hit it often." The lines for it may peter off in the later afternoon, but your best chances for easy front row come early in the morning (same applies to Hulk).


More later.

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This brings us to the most important thing, something that I have to imagine a seasoned Cali vet knows - you're gonna get there early, right? If not, you're risking a lot


Heh...no need to worry there. I'm always the first one in parks. I absolutly HATE getting there after opening and it usually throws me in an instant bad mood if we do, dunno why just does. I act like a baby if we're late, or so my wife says.


As for the Disney parks I was hoping to hit the MK, MGM, and Epcot in 2 to 3 days worth. To be honest im a ride guy, I do enjoy a good show now and then if its good but if I have to skip some of the shows for time thats not going to be much of a problem with me. I'm seriously looking forward more to seeing UO/IOA more than the Disney parks...I'm just curious to see the big differences in ride and atmosphere in DLR and WDW more than anything.


Mulch...thanks again for all the great info!

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^ It actually is wrong. Every day during the 50th celebration thing 1 park is either staying open later or opening early.


When I get home I will check our "Unofficial Guide to WDW" book and let you know what it will be those days. There is also a nifty crowd gauge that may not be 100% accurate, but it will show attendance patterns based on previous years.


At least go to AK to get your credit!!!



Gregg "Thinking of moving our WDW trip up a month" C.

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Not to be contrary, Supercrack, but I just verified that info on the Disney website. It appears that at this point Disney doesn't plan to do the early openings on Sunday mornings (at least not in the month of May). They do do the late closings (an extra three hours) for a park on Sundays (and on the 15th, looks like it's gonna be the Studios).


EDIT - heh heh. I said "do do"

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First thing you need to do, of course, is grab a map (though you've probably already got one printed up and are studying it).


Go straight through Port of Entry and take a hard left into Marvel Superhero Island. If you're carrying a bag, hang the first left you find (actually the exit pathway for Hulk that runs directly underneath the big purple lauch tube) and get that thing stowed away. The lockers use fingerprint ID scans and can be a little dodgy at times.


Make your way back out (along the exit path of Hulk) and hang another left - this'll put you towards the entrance to Hulk. At this point, there should be absolutely no wait for the back seven rows. The line for the front row, however, will probably be about a five minute wait (on a busy day, they're undoubtably going to have two trains running).


Once you're off Hulk (okay, once you're done with Hulk - scoring a fast re-ride can be awfully tempting), follow this route: as you make your way out of the exit, you're facing the Cafe 4 (pizza joint). Even though it won't be serving food yet, the door should be open. Go into Cafe 4 (passing restrooms to your left) and continue through - Cafe 4 is connected to the Kingpin's Arcade. Continue on out of the Arcade and Doctor Doom's Fearfall is going to be down the "alley" to your left. There shouldn't be much of a wait for it yet, and even if there is the video in the queue is very entertaining.


After you hop off the Fearfall, the exit places you BACK into the Kingpin's Arcade. Go out the same way you did last time, but this time don't go down the alley that leads to Doom. Move around the shop that's on that corner and you should be face to face with the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. If everything is working right for you, this should be damn near a walk-on. The only con to that is that you miss out on all the videos in the waiting areas that really explain what the ride's about. The storyline isn't incredibly easy to follow the first time around, so I'll sum it up quickly:


Doc Ock and the Sinister Six have stolen the Statue of Liberty utilizing Doc Ock's levitation laser thingy (thingy - that's a technical term). The laser fires a green beam to make things levitate and a red beam to make he levitated stuff drop. You're a civilian, but that doesn't stop J Jonah Jameson from throwing you into a SCOOP (the next gen news gathering vehicle, sponsored by Toyota!) to get out there and get the story. Chaos ensues.


Spider-man exits into that gift shop you passed a while ago. Okay, fine. Go ride Spidey again. We'll wait for you.


Alright, that finishes up Marvel Superhero Island (oh, did I skip Storm Force Accelatron? Yeah, so should you. That thing's a placeholder attraction if ever there was one). Continue along and you'll find yourself entering Toon Lagoon.


Make your way along the main pathway (oh, take some of it in. There's a lot of clever visual gags along the strip). There's a pathway that shoots off to the right of Cathy's Ice Cream. I believe there's lockers in that area too (hope you didn't leave your bag over by Hulk). That path will put you out pretty close to Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. You will get wet. You'll probably get soaked. Once you're off of Dudley, make a beeline over to the opposite side of Toon Lagoon (check your map for that one - it's hard to explain that pathway off the top of my head) and take in Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. Any part of your body still dry will not be when you get off (maybe a good idea to have a towel in that bag).


Just past the entrance to Popeye is Me Ship, The Olive. This is a multilayered kid's play area, but you can get some really nice shots of Hulk from the top level. You can also vent some frustration by shooting water at people who pass beneath you on the Popeye ride. It's a fun diversion, but it's totally skippable (I walked on for the first time last weekend, and as you can probably tell from this I've been there quite a bit).


Next up is Jurassic Park. As you enter this area, you'll see Pteradon Flyers going overhead. Pteradon Flyers is a kiddie ride that will easily already have a 20 minute wait (very slow loading). It also has a MAXIMUM height restriction, which I doubt anyone in your group is going to meet. Skip it, as well as Camp Jurassic (which, I have to admit, is probably one of the coolest kid playareas I've ever seen - I spent a good 20 minutes there on Saturday). If everything's going well, it's still obscenely early. The Jurassic Park River Adventure should have a pretty short line...and you are still wet from Toon Lagoon. Enjoy. The Jurassic Park Discovery Center is over on your right. It's all well and cool, but the Dragons are waiting for you. If you want to check it out, I'd recommend doubling back around later (in fact, doing a second lap around the park is ideal for really soaking in all the atmosphere, seeing characters, etc. Right now you're rushing to beat the crowd. A crowd can't screw up just walking around enjoying the park's intricate theming).


Moving through Jurassic Park (and it's a hike, by the way), you'll enter the Lost Continent. Once you're over the bridge, the Flying Unicorn is to your left (go get your credit). If you aren't riding the Flying Unicorn, there's no reason to turn to the left. Bottleneck.


Moving to the right, you'll pass a smoking area (ah, my landmarks) and come along on the Enchanted Oak Restaurant and Alchemy Bar. Best. Counter. Food. Ever. If you don't go to Mythos (I can hear Elissa screaming "blasphemy" already), I highly recommend the Oak.


Oh, what's that over to your left? Looks like two Dragons locked in eternal struggle. Go over to the left of the dragons to stow your gear and get your hiking boots on. The queue for Dueling Dragons is about half a mile long. That is not a joke. There are ways around it, but I can't really recommend them because the theming in the castle is really amazing. You'll eventually reach a point where you must choose your Fate: Fire or Ice. I won't get into the debate over which Dragon is better. Fire is faster (though not by much) and has a slightly higher drop, but Ice has a nice cobra roll... what does it matter? You're riding both, right? The wait for the front rows will be pretty bad at this point - the latecomers to the park who opted to go right instead of left will be there before you. The front row is great and all, but I don't think it's terribly necessary. You can see all the near collisions (just not as IN YOUR FACE) from all but maybe the back two rows (at least one collision is almost invisible if you're in the back row, unless you're looking directly down at the right moment...and maybe holding a mirror (DON'T TAKE MIRRORS ON ROLLERCOASTERS)).


There's a very convenient re-ride entrance, so you won't have to do the half mile hike again (okay, if the lines aren't bad, here's something you MAY be able to do: When you first enter the queue, you'll pass some stairs that lead down to the exiting area - if you head down the stairs and turn left towards the castle, you MAY and I only say MAY be able to skip a lot of the walking in line and go straight in where the re-ride entrance is. I've done this before (actually a staffer showed it to me), but as you may get stopped I can not wholeheartedly recommend this course of action. Don't screw up and go over to the Express entrance, 'cause they'll pretty much poo poo what you're attempting).


Moving along through Lost Continent, you'll pass the Eighth Voyage of Sindbad stunt show and Poseidon's Fury (an effects show). I know you said you're not big on the shows, but I think both of these are pretty enjoyable (god knows I prefer Sindbad to the tedious Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular). If you want to do them, great. If not, I understand. Check your map for showtimes.


Lost Continent goes on a bit further, and you'll find yourself in Seuss Landing. There's some shops about, then the Caro-Seuss-el to your right (fun, but it is a carousel), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (also fun, but it's yet another Dumbo clone with some water thrown in for good measure), and the Cat in the Hat will be along in front of you (don't worry, there's no Mike Myers to be found). Of the three, Cat in the Hat should be done, the other two are strictly optional (and the wait for 1 Fish can get pretty bad).


Continue along and you'll find yourself back at Point of Entry. If all went well, you should have been able to get through almost everything without much of a wait (Dueling Dragons notwithstanding). I doubt it'll even be noon yet. Go back to Mythos or the Oak, have a nice lunch, then get back out there and start re-riding stuff (or catch some of those shows in Lost Continent). Now's a good time to start trying to use your Express Passes (though if it's a slower day, you may never need them!).


/edited to remove totally stupid incorrect information.

//edited again to add this bit: this is the most linear method for doing the park. However, if it hasn't warmed up much, you may want to consider doubling back after completing Marvel Superhero Island, switching to a counterclockwise direction and moving into Seuss Landing next (thus saving Toon Lagoon and its refreshing but chilly waters for later in the day - while the lines in Toon Lagoon may get a bit longer, liberal usage of your Express pass should make mincemeat of the crowds (and while you wait for a return window, enjoy some ice cream or something).

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Okay, according to the "Unnoficial Guide", May 15, 16, 17 is a crowd level 3. Meaning that you should have light crowd conditions.


On the 15th the best parks for you to go to are Epcot and AK. You should avoid the Magic Kingdom.


16 Epcot is the best, avoid AK.


17 AK is the best, avoid MGM.


Here is the schedule for early entry


MK - Thusday and Sunday

Epcot - Wednesday

MGM - Tuesday and Saturday

AK - Monday and Friday


So if you are not staying on site, avoid these parks on those days.


Any other info you need, let me know.

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  • 4 weeks later...

That one hurts me.. ANIMAL KINGDOM ROCKS... I love the place, and IMHO is a Imagineering masterpiece... Sure it might not be the thrill ride park most people want here... But you have to admit that the imagineers did an amazing job...

Even with my nr one coaster at Seaworld (Yes Kraken is my favourite) I would still go for AK...


But tasts are different... So I forgive you (for now)


What are you smoking and can I have some? AK sucks. The absolute worst park in the entire southeast and a travesty to the Disney name.


Both Sea World and Busch Gardens Tampa destroy AK at the "Zoo with Rides" type park.

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