Top Tuesday: Five ways to survive a theme park in summer

In my real life, I avoid crowds like the plague. In the past (pre-Appreciation Campaign 2010), we did have annual passes to theme parks, but my rule was always go off-season on off days when the fewest people as possible were at the park. When my husband and I went to Disney in the early years of our marriage, I spent days studying books and websites for the patterns of traffic so we could do just the opposite to limit the amount of time we had to stand in line smooshed between people.

I think it has something to do with my sophomore year in high school when my mother let me spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I’ve never experienced a crowd like that before – and I think it scarred me for life.

This weekend, Sea World generously invited a group of mommy bloggers back to San Antonio for a wildside reunion with our families. It was so much fun. Just us and 30,000 people at the park. Navigating that kind of crowd took some doing, but I walked away with some valuable tips, tricks and tactics.

1. Buy a Quick Queue Pass. It starts at $15 and it’s worth every dime.

2. When you are ready to go see a show, grab a snack and a drink and show up about 45 minutes to one hour before the show starts. Take the time to rest your feet and enjoy your snack. When they open the gate, you’ll have a chance to get a good seat. Be sure you don’t miss Azul. It’s a truly beautiful show. Best seats in the house are right in the center of the house. If you sit too close, you’ll miss much of the action.

3. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat. With that many people, the lines can get long, and there’s no quick queue pass for food! I’m not sure to age-old rule of wait until the show starts worked for us. It was sort of catch as catch can. Sometimes the lines were long, sometimes they were short. Sea World had an amazing food deal where you could dine all day for one price. And, that deal got you into the Ports of Call picnic behind the amphitheater where there was never a line.

4. Get wet, and often. A frequent tactic we use is to go to the water park first. Most folks wait until the afternoon when they are dying of heat, so in the mornings, the water parks are usually less crowded. Great thing about Sea World, though, is most of the rides will get you wet, so you can still cool down on the water rides in the afternoon. Our favorite is Rio Loco. You ride along the river, relax and then have a ton of water dumped on your head. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

5. Carry your money, cell phone, camera, papers and anything else you don’t want to get wet in a plastic bag. I didn’t. But my Rio Loco ridemate did. He was a lot smarter than me. His stuff stayed dry. Me? I learned a valuable lesson about fanny packs and how water has no problem whatsoever working its way through the teeth of the zipper.

Don’t shy away from the last few weeks of summer at a theme park. You can get some seriously good deals right now.

Sea World is offering a coupon where kids get in free and adults get in at a kids’ price. Print it out from this link and go. I think it’s the best deal around right now.

Fiesta Texas’ deal is everyone gets in a kids’ price.

I should mention (for those of you who care), that Sea World did provide me and my family tickets into the park, food and quick queue passes as part of the wildside family reunion. They were great hosts and have done an beautiful job of building community among Texas mommy bloggers.

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  1. GREAT post! The Ports of Call was a lifesaver. The Quick Que GREATEST thing ever! TAking a 3 year old to the front of the Shamu Rollercoaster and not standing in the sun. WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!! Trust me, I have pics ;-)

    • Ain’t it so, Rachel? We’d never used a Quick Queue before … and now I’m pretty sure I’ll never go anywhere without purchasing one if its available!

    • Were we that hard on him, Tim? He was great! A wonderful host to all of us!

  2. I think you mean to put all of your valuables (camera, phone, wallet, etc) in a PLASTIC bag, not a paper bag.

    • Laura – I think you would be right about that! And I’ve corrected it. I’m still recovering from all the wet in my fanny pack. Might as well have had everything in a paper bag! Thanks for the catch.

  3. Love your tips! Yeah, we put our stuff in a locker to ride the rollercoasters and the “wet” rides. But kids are older, so a little easier. Problem was I didn’t have my camera or Flip most of the time. BB phone takes pretty good pics but wish I had my camera.

    Not to worry, I can just look through Rachel’s ( HUGE assortment of photos. :)

    Loved meeting everyone and can’t wait for another #Wildside get together, this time without family so we can really spend time getting to know each other.



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