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theme park 101

June 12, 2008|Brady MacDonald | MacDonald writes the Los Angeles Times theme park blog, latimes.com/funland

Top 10 ways to make the most of your next theme park visit:

1) Visit midweek. Take a day off from work (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday), when crowds thin considerably.

2) Avoid the peak tourist times. Stay away on major holidays, spring break and especially Christmas break.

3) Buy an annual pass. It'll pay for itself on the second or third visit. Then you can set your own pace and not feel as if you have to see everything in one visit.

4) Purchase a line-cutting ticket upgrade. If you hate to wait, it's worth the price. But beware: The privilege can double the cost of admission.

5) Master Disneyland's free FastPass ride reservation system. Each FastPass issues a time window for your return (say, between 10:15 and 10:45). You can (and should) get another FastPass as soon as your previous reservation time activates.

6) Arrive as early as possible. Head to the back of the park and hit the biggest attractions with the shortest lines first.

7) Take a midday break. Head inside for an air-conditioned show. Enjoy a parade. Let the kids burn off some energy at a play area. Sit down for lunch.

8) Stay late. Ride queue waits drop dramatically during the final hour of park operation.

9) Frequently check "wait time" ride boards and entrance signs. Never wait in any line longer than 30 minutes.

10) Avoid sweets and junk food. There's nothing worse than a sugar-addled kid to sap the fun out of the Happiest Place on Earth.

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-- Brady.MacDonald@latimes.com

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