Surviving a theme park, though—especially if you have children in tow or if it is at peak season— is a completely different ballgame all together.
If the thought of it is already making you break out into cold sweat, well, fret not, because we’re here armed with the ultimate how to survive a theme park guide: no matter if it’s Disneyland, Universal Studios, or your local Uncle Ringo affair. Brace yourself!
1. Book your tickets early and online
To avoid the inevitable disappointment of facing a sold-out ticket booth, we recommend getting your tickets early and online. Early, because sometimes you can strike good deals, whether it’s a credit card promotion or a seasonal one. Universal Studios Singapore, for instance, offers pretty great deals from time to time which you can utilise. Check back here regularly, and who knows? You might just get lucky.
For overseas theme parks, you can always check through travel agents or websites to see if you can score some great deals as well. Our sources tell us that Get Away Today is a reliable source as to getting discount packages for Disneyland, while Expedia is great for other theme parks within the Asia Pacific region.
2. If possible, plan your trip around an off-peak period
One of the best methods as to how to survive a theme park? Going during an off-peak period. Trust us, the lack of queue times will vastly improve your theme park experience. If possible, try to avoid going on weekends, public holidays, or school holiday periods. Here is a handy guide you can refer to for school and public holidays in Singapore this year.
Your best bet is always weekdays, preferably in the middle of the week, such as on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
3. Arrive early to beat the crowds
Make sure to start your day (and theme park experience) right by heading down early. That way, you can beat out the crowds and get photos or must-sit rides out of the way before people come flooding in. We recommend going at least 10-15 minutes before the park opens so you can secure yourself a good spot.
4. Head to popular rides and or attractions first
There’s no better way as to knowing how to survive a theme park than having a strategic plan of action. And as we all know, there are just some rides or attractions that are infinitely more popular, so make use of being early by heading towards them first!
In the case of Universal Studios Singapore, you should always opt for the Battlestar Galactica or The Revenge Of The Mummy rollercoaster first. The queues do move reasonably quickly for these two attractions, though, so if it’s waiting around for a long time that bug you, maybe get the Treasure Hunters ride out of the way first. If you’re going for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, go for the Stranger Things house. Queue times can go up to 120 minutes otherwise!
As for overseas theme parks, you can always conduct some research as to what are the most popular rides within them. Here’s a ranking of the most popular Disneyland rides there are!
5. If still in doubt, go against the crowd
It may be tempting to follow the crowd, but that’s actually the fastest way to get bogged down in queues! Opt to go in the complete opposite direction instead, or head to the furthest zone away from the park entrance. It’s a easier (and more logical!) way that allows you to slowly work your way back out to the park entrance throughout the day.
6. Grab a park map while you’re at it
Download an updated version on to your phone for maximum efficacy! Most theme parks have their maps uploaded on to their main site. This really allows for easier navigation and less time wasted as you head from attraction to attraction.
7. … and a programme sheet
Love attending theme park parades and shows? Well, most theme parks give out programme sheets detailing exactly what time they go down, so make sure to grab one at the entrance of the park before heading in! This will allow you to schedule and plan out your day easier.
If parades and shows aren’t your thing, grab a programme sheet anyway. These timings are the best opportunities to head for rides, instead! (Because everyone else will be at these programmes!) Head out as soon as these events begin, and watch the lines before popular rides magically disappear.
8. Put your phone in a ziploc bag
And speaking of phones, there is no better hack as to how to survive a theme park than putting your phone into a ziploc bag. Seriously, it’s a life-saver when it comes to water attractions! You never know who’s going to get absolutely soaked (bags and clothes included), so make sure to have extra insurance for your mobile phone.
You can even go the whole hog and get yourself a poncho if you’re worried. They sell them at the park, of course, but we recommend you bring your own instead to save on some moolah. Most of them range from SGD5-SGD8, which is waaay more expensive than the SGD2 you can buy it for at Daiso.
9. Rent a locker
There are some rides you can’t bring your bags on, so make sure to opt for a locker when that happens. It’s also a pretty great place to store your shopping, so you wouldn’t have to lug it all over the park.
Pro tip as to how to survive a theme park? Well, if you’re at Universal Studios Singapore, we recommend renting a locker before heading into the park to store your belongings. Reason being that lockers by attractions require a SGD2 deposit, where you’d have to pay a large sum if you store your items for more than several hours. Yikes!
Your best bet is probably the lockers at by the stores leading towards the entrance of the park. You get to pay a flat fee of SGD15 to store your items for the whole day.
10. Bring your own food and drinks to the park
Unless eating character-shaped foods is a important point on your theme park agenda, we recommend packing your own food and drinks for your day. You’ll be paying astronomical prices for waffles, sandwiches, and subs otherwise, which you can easily make (or buy elsewhere) at a much lower cost! (Not to mention, braving the snaking queues!)
Our advice as to how to survive a theme park? Always buy yourself a bottle of water and some food beforehand. If you’re heading to Universal Studios Singapore, grab a bottle from Giant and perhaps a sandwich to slip into your bag. Your wallet will thank you for it!
11. Dress appropriately and slather up on SPF
Depending on which season and which theme park you’re heading to, make sure to dress comfortably, appropriately, and to slather up with SPF! Yes, that includes for if you’re going to cold countries. Sure, it may be freezing over there, but it’s always best to put on some sunscreen in case there’s some sun peeking out, too.
If you’re heading to Universal Studios Singapore, make sure to load up on sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Those (literal) bloodsuckers are everywhere, even if you’re going for Halloween Horror Nights, so prepare yourself for red, scratchy bites if you go without repellent.
12. Make sure to bring a power bank or rechargeable phone case
With the amount of photos you’re taking (plus all those social media breaks!), the likelihood of your phone running out of juice is unfortunately pretty high. Keep it charged and ready to go with a portable charger, or even one of those rechargeable smart phone cases. Seriously, a fully charged and operable phone is one of the best ways as to how to survive a theme park, so always be prepared.
13. Designate a meeting spot
If you’re travelling in a group (especially larges ones!), there is the possibility that you could get separated from everyone else. Mitigate this by discussing and coming up with a designated meeting spot beforehand. That way, it is always easy to locate each other, even when lost or if your phone is out of juice.
14. Opt for single riders if you’re the only one who wants to try a certain ride
The only one amongst your loved ones who wants to take the more thrilling coasters? Well, there’s no better tip when it comes to how to survive a theme park than to opt for the single rider option. Some rides do come with this option, which is often indicated with a separate line that you can spot by the attraction entrance. You get to skip close to 80% of the queue, to the point where you can even go on it multiple times!
If you’re heading to Universal Studios Singapore, the single rider attractions are: Revenge Of The Mummy, Transformers, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, and the Canopy Flyer.