I set up a little bit of a challenge for myself on this one. I decided to make the article be, in large part, about how to best navigate the theme parks. Why did I decide this? Well, I needed some sort of angle, because the fact that these parks exist is not exactly breaking news, so a simple overview was out of the question.
Not much about Florida theme parks, when you come right down to it, is really a secret. They’re some of the best known, and best promoted attractions in the world, so it’s a little hard to find new things to say about them.
I personally find theme parks a little overwhelming. I like them, but the noise, the crowds, and in Orlando’s case, the baking sun all wear me down pretty quickly. I figured I must not be the only person this happens to, so I decided to write an article that would make life easier for us easily over-stimulated folk.
The problem was, the group I was traveling with didn’t really see the theme parks in a way that has much to do with the average person’s Orlando theme-park experience. I traveled there on a press trip, a whirlwind affair where, over the course of several 18-hour days, we were taken to just about every spot in Central Florida--for about five minutes. One day we covered three parks—Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Universal Studios—in one dawn-to-darkness burst of roller coasters, fried food, and sustained shrieking.
As a group, we did manage to experience quite a bit of each park, but only because we were afforded essentially a VIP experience. Park staff escorted us to the front of lines, put us on air-conditioned buses to get us from park gate to park gate, and made sure we were properly fed and hydrated so that our energy didn’t flag.
What I’m saying is that this is another one of those articles that required a lot of research once I got home. I had to remember what it’s like to visit parks as a normal person (which I have done) and then find out what programs and perks exist that normal people have access to.
So that’s what this article is—a guide to remaining sane in Orlando, based on my completely insane theme park experience.