For many adults, the hours can drag on and on while trapped within the confines of a theme park. It can be much more like a penal institution than 300 acres of fun. Many parents have considered ordering their children from the park never to return. Frequently, the culprit is the long lines that preclude enjoying all of the rides and events that were drooled over in the brochure.
Tired feet and aching backs make it difficult to have fun. The key is to save some time while in the park so that some periods of rest are available at various points during the day. A break here and there can remove the feel of a forced march from the outing.
Plan to arrive at the park 15 minutes or so after it opens for the day.
This may seem like a statement of heresy to theme park goers. However, most theme parks open with long lines of people at every gate waiting to get inside. Unless you are a huge fan of pushing, shoving, and waiting in line, you will miss all of this by arriving a few minutes later. More than likely, you will have quicker time getting into the parking lot, too.
You will enter the park much more relaxed and ready for fun instead of irritated at the rude people that kept stepping in front of your family as you worked your way through the gate. The strange thing is that you will get in almost as fast as most of the people who arrived early without losing the time. You can have a leisurely breakfast and have energy to burn when you go inside the park.
If you are not familiar with the park, get a map ahead of time and study it.
Every place is easier to navigate if you already know where you are going. Most theme parks have maps posted inside the park at various places. By already having reviewed the map before arriving, it will even be quicker to read these maps, if necessary, once inside the park. When you get into the park, take a moment and get oriented with the directions to various attractions.
Head for the part of the park with the greatest concentration of rides and shows.
Once you are comfortable with the layout of the park, head into the direction that will offer the most rides in the smallest area. Even if there are crowds there, having several rides close together should reduce the line at any one attraction. Because many of the people want to ride only the big name attractions, the smaller but equally entertaining ones will be much faster to access. If you can get several rides in before too much time has passed, you may be willing to sacrifice a little more time for the monster roller coaster later in the day. You can use a long line as a rest period from galloping around the rest of the park.
Stagger watching shows with the rides.
By alternating rides with shows, it should lessen the fatigue of the day. You can always ignore the show, enjoy the air conditioning and darkened room, and take a short nap. A good rule of thumb is watch about 1 show for every 3 or so rides. It does not really save time, but it does seem to make the day keep moving instead of dragging because your feet will not hurt as much.
If you can, go to a theme park on a weekday.
Unless you are in Orlando, Florida, or Disneyland, weekdays tend to have lower crowds at most theme parks. This is because local people are not there. Even if the kids are out of school, the parents are still working. These families tend to wait for the weekend to go. Sometimes, the weekend starts on Friday. So, if the park is open on Monday through Thursday, go on one of those days. You may get in two or three times as many rides and shows than you would on a crowded weekend.