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Disney Tips: Get Your Money's Worth Part II Plus Universal Studios Information

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Out of all of my Disney tips, I believe planning and time management is key to get your money’s worth while at the park. Photo from Flickr via loonyhiker

In my last post regarding Disney tips, my friend gave us the scoop on restaurants, rides and more.

I went in 2011 and wanted to give you some general guidelines plus information about Universal Studios.

First, I explain general tips regarding Disney and my experience.

Then I tell you about Universal Studios (if you happen to be going).

I included coaster view videos.

Don’t miss out while at the parks.

Disney Tips in General:

1. Bring napkins, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. If you eat in between rides, you want to keep your hands clean without having to wait in line in the bathroom. Unless of course, you have to use it.

2. Be prepared to feel sweaty (and gross) at times if it’s very hot. It’s part of the experience.

3. Try to get up early and have a quick breakfast so you can get to the park as soon as it opens. That’s the best time to get on the rides before the crowds. It’s helps to get on more rides quicker by beating the crowds.

4. Be strategic with a map and plot out where you want to go. You don’t want to waste time running to the opposite side of the park. Try to pick the best ride and find other semi-important things to do close by.

5. Buy souvenirs before you leave the park so you don’t waste any time. Also you don’t have to lug them around. When you go on rides, you will have to leave your stroller behind (if you have one). You don’t want to have to carry so much stuff or leave anything unattended.

6. Set limits to how much kids can spend prior to entering a store. It’s hard to get caught up in the excitement and just buy everything. I call it the overspending prevention program. : )

7. Encourage practical purchases. We purchased Disney mugs from our hotel that you can refill. We still use them. They are great quality and hold both hot and cold beverages.

They don’t have that plastic smell either. They come with tops that stay on securely. You can open and shut a little area on the lid if you want to use a straw.

8. Budget for splurges. If you have enough time to save before the trip, encourage your child to do chores. Try this money saving challenge to save their own money.

9. Focus on the areas you really want to see the most to get your money’s worth. I had my kids take turns picking what they wanted to do. Us adults also got to pick our favorite areas. It’s hard to compromise on every decision. We did this to make sure everyone got to see what they wanted in an effort to minimize squabbles.

10. Accept that you probably won’t see everything you want to see. Pick two or three of the most important rides or shows you want to go to per day and be happy with that. For example, we watched a luau, went on a few rides and them saw fireworks at night. (Remember I was injured.)

11. Scout out area stores to buy snacks to keep in your bag.  I felt like we were always hungry. It was helpful to have some granola bars and other items on hand. We went to a local Walmart.

There are links that go to videos of the rides. If you have concerns about motion sickness or your child being afraid, it can’t hurt to peek at the ride. This way you won’t waste any time or money if you know you or your family won’t like something. You may not want to watch the whole thing, if you liked being surprised. If you watch part of the videos, you will quickly get a feel for what they are like. I like watching them now just to remember my trip. I wish I recorded them myself.


If you choose this park, get to there early (which is the rule for most of the parks). We were some of the first people to get on the Soarin’ Ride which is very popular. It simulates the experience of gliding. You are strapped in and lifted up. You’re feet will dangle in the air. It’s a very tame ride. At times I experience motion sickness and this was nothing. This was one of my favorites.

The Fast Track Ride was the popular ride to go on. My girls didn’t have any interest in it. People rave about this ride and usually what people go to first.

From what people tell me and from my own experience, Epcot isn’t a place where you stay a long time. This is where the park hopper is beneficial. We didn’t want to do the park hopper for our first trip because I was injured ( I broke my foot and still used crutches). I wanted to take in as much as I could of one park at a time. You have to know how you are as a traveler. Cost is a factor too.

I enjoyed taking a peek at all of the different countries. We got to watch a movie about China. My kids might have been a little bored but I wanted them to see it. “Visiting” Mexico at Epcot is fun too. The ride is like the Mexican version of It’s a Small World(kind of). We spent more time in certain ares than others. It was still nice to walk through certain areas.

Magic Kingdom

Here’s a playlist of what Magic Kingdom is like, if that’s where you want to spend your time. I think it makes it easier to plan if you know what it’s like. Keep it a  surprise for the kids. The Small World Ride is a classic. I believe it’s a must-do ride.

Here’s a complete walk-through of Magic Kingdom.

Universal Studios

The Bart Simpson Ride is another story. It’s extremely rocky. It’s another ride simulator (no bueno). I was definitely queasy afterwards. I do not recommend this for those who get motion sickness. Watching the screen makes matters worst too. It does seem appealing to middle school aged children though. It just wasn’t my thing.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter ride which is called the Forbidden Journey, is a very popular ride. The line is always insanely long. My younger one didn’t have any interest in it. It’s a bit scary for younger children. We went to a different part of the park while they were waiting. Just know, you can be separated for a long time if you branch off. It was worth  it because my older daughter was big Harry Potter fan at the time. They didn’t mind waiting. You can go on what is called the single rider line. You skip going through the castle but you still experience the ride. It gets you on the ride faster. It may be great to try maybe the second time. The castle is part of the full experience. My husband took her on this motion simulator ride while we checked out the Dr. Suess area.

I like to know what I’m getting into. You can go to YouTube.com/TheCoasterViews if you want to take a peek a particular ride. Many of the Disney rides are featured.

This makes planning much easier.

Here’s the Harry Potter ride below.


The Bart Simpson Ride is another story. It’s extremely rocky. It’s another ride simulator (no bueno). I was definitely queasy afterwards. I do not recommend this for those who get motion sickness. Watching the screen makes matters worst too. It does seem appealing to middle school aged children though. It just wasn’t my thing.

Bike Show

This ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. I felt that it was more manageable to navigate. My kids were right out of the little kid phase, so this was more our speed.

We watched a free bike show. I don’t know if it’s always there but there will be some form of free entertainment. Bikers rode in cages, sometimes two at a time. They also did fancy tricks on ramps with skateboards. Very enjoyable.

I will take almost any activity that gives me a break from walking. I think it’s important to incorporate some passive activities. Having a snack and a little rest goes along way. You also feel as though you are getting your money’s worth because you aren’t just sitting on a bench. You are being entertained.

Kids and  parents can get very grouchy on this type of trip. It’s very overstimulating in a good and bad way. Excitement is fun but overload can make the kids nuts or irritable.

There’s an area that has two free shows that are scheduled at set times each day. It was a nice reprieve from the sun. When you are walking around a great deal, it’s the perfect way to take a break for an extended period of time while still being entertained.

I personally try to go midday because that is when the sun is really blaring down. Get there early so you can get a spot. I believe it was bleecher-style seating.

Emeril’s Restaurant

Being an Emeril fan, I had to check out his restaurant. When I looked at the website, I thought it might be swanky but it has a casual vibe. The menu was very kid-friendly and affordable. I thought the service was excellent. Many of the waiters seem to have a similar sense of humor as Emeril. I liked going here because it’s a way to feel like you are still having an adult-like restaurant experience.We remember enjoying the wood-oven pizza there. I can’t remember what else we ordered but I remember being happy.

There are many places to get ice cream and water through out the park. Just know, like most amusement parks, it’s overpriced. We would make sure to stay hydrated before showing up. If you go when it’s hot, you will need a great deal of water.

Super Heroes

My family and I were lucky enough to catch the super heroes. They spontaneously bust out of nowhere to catch a villain. They also stop for autographs and drive cool vehicles around the park. Captain America was a hit when we went. His movie had just come out. He wasn’t bad eye candy for mommy either. ; )

Dr. Suess Area

This was very cute and mellow. Great for younger children or for those who don’t love rides. We spent some time there and then caught a mini Dr. Suess show. The characters come out and entertain the crowd in an informal setting. It’s not to far from the play area.


You can also go on the E.T. Ride. You ride on “bikes” like E.T. and Elliot did in the movie. It’s as if you are being chased. You escape and “fly” away across the moon. It’s cute.

There’s Shrek in 4D which I thought was enjoyable. Before entering the some of the characters are caged up and talk to you before you enter. You will get to sit as if you are at a movie theater. The chairs will rock and squirt water at some point at you. I liked it. I believe there are seats that don’t move.

You can see a Scooby Doo van in the street. Madagascar characters driving down a street and more just by walking around.

Once again, this was one of my favorite places to be on the trip because you didn’t have to be overly planned. You didn’t have to stop to get an appointment to eat with a character or anything like that.

These are just tidbits I remember. To see a complete walk-through. Watch the video below. The areas they show you in the beginning are little more tame. It’s actually very lively and fun.

Any tips to share regarding Disney or Universal Studios? Share below.






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