October 2011: FAQOrlando Ride Guides provide a snapshot of must-know information for each Orlando park. Rides are organized in a logical, easy-to-find format explained at the beginning of each Ride Guide. They can be accessed via smart phone while inside the parks or printed before arrival.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Ride Guide
Disney’s Epcot Ride Guide
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Ride Guide
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Ride Guide
Universal Studios’ Ride Guide
Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure Ride Guide
Sea World Orlando Ride Guide
Each Ride Guide includes the following info on attractions:
Coaster: A roller-coaster style ride, at least in part.
Motion simulator: Passengers sit theater style inside an enclosed compartment. While inside, a movie plays in the front, and unseen below, pistons make the compartment tilt backward, forward, and sideways. It creates a feeling of flight.
Theater: The audience watches a show. Some theaters have special effects, such as a spray of water in your face, vibrating seats, and other surprise elements.
Moving vehicle: A car moves through the attraction but at a relatively slow, consistent speed. In some cases, it’s a boat ride; in others, a car rides along a track.
Spinning: This generally describes a fair-type ride, such as one that moves guest in a circle. Disney’s Dumbo ride is an example. In some cases, guests may control the car to move up and down.
Walk-through: Playgrounds are a good example. These types of attractions are meant for exploring or climbing or both.
Other: Some rides just defy a one-word description.
Rated as one to five stars, this gauges the value of a ride. In general, a trip to a theme park should include all five-star rides. One-star rides (there aren’t many) can be ignored without regret. An example: The one-star jitneys that travel up and down Main Street in Disney’s Magic Kingdom add ambiance to the park, but no one leaves the park regretting this missed attraction.
Rated as one to fives stars, this gauges the relative wait time based on the number of people on the day you visit. A handful of rides have virtually no line even on the busiest days. Other rides have a longer queue – compared to all other rides – even on slow days. A five-star wait time means it’s generally one of your longest waits of the day; a one-star wait time means you should be able to board fairly quickly.
Rated as one to five stars, a one-star ride has no movement, with theater shows the top example. A two-star ride has a small amount of movement but is safe for anyone. Five-star movement rides include roller coasters and other body-tossing attractions.
A coaster rates five stars as scary to the typical five-year-old, but other gentle-motion rides can also scare small children if witches or villains jump out at them. Rated one to five stars, a one-star ride is suitable for all children, while a five-star ride is a no-no. Two to four stars might be acceptable – it depends on the skittishness of your offspring.
Popular Disney rides offer a Fast Pass – essentially a reservation to ride later waiting in a much shorter line. If offered on an attraction (Disney only), it’s noted here.
Some rides limit the size of riders based on height. The parks do it because restraints may not effectively keep smaller riders locked down, and possibly to keep their insurance costs reasonable. Each ride with a restriction has a chart at the entrance. Ride attendants faithfully check smaller passengers, and no – begging doesn’t help. This is one rule the parks do not break to make guests happy. In most cases, consider a baby swap if a small child can’t ride.
Some rides have a separate single-rider line. When a party of two is seated in a car that holds three people, the ride attendant fills the empty seat with someone from the single-rider line. There’s no guarantee that two people will even be in the same car if they wait together in the single-ride line. However, many rides – like roller coasters – are very personal experiences, and you can’t even see your companions while riding because the bulky restraints limit your vision. That makes the single-rider line a smart option on some attractions.
Many faster rides allow one adult to ride alone while another stands along the sidelines with a child who cannot or will not ride. When the first adult returns, he picks up the kid and the second adult rides. In general, guests wait in the same line as everybody else and tell an attendant at the time of seating that they’d like to do a baby swap. If you have questions before getting on any ride, ask the gate attendant. Most rides will allow a baby swap upon request even if it’s not noted.