How To Plan A Theme Park Trip

Weirdly, this time of year is actually kind of my favourite. Despite the parks being closed, it's one of the most exciting times to sit down and get stuck into planning my trips for the year upcoming! I'm mad and always have a ton a theoretical trips planned out and ready to go in my trip folder on my desktop, but now is the time I can file through them and figure out which ones I'm actually going to go ahead with. I get asked LOADS about trip planning - how to make it affordable, where to even start when putting one together, so I thought I'd put together a top line guide on my process to help put you in good stead for figuring out trips of your own.

This one seems obvious to me but the amount of people I've spoken to who've booked a trip for a certain ride or park only to find out it's not open yet is insane to me. But yes, research is key. Look at what rides or parks you're interested in going to and, especially if it's a new coaster you're after, have a little read through the message boards and Twitter to see if the thing is actually going to be open on time. Trust me, I've been there with standing outside a coaster that's fully built and just a week away from opening to the public all down to poor research from my end, and it sucks hard.

Your timing is absolutely key - not only with when you actually plan to do the thing but booking it too. I always look to book flights when I know the prices are going to be cheaper. Black Friday and Boxing Day are great options for this, but I also subscribe to budget airline alerts so that I know when a flash sale is on. Last month there were insanely priced flights with Ryanair to Cologne meaning a trip to Phantasialand was going for peanuts. Taking advantage of these discounts is crucial in my trip planning for the year - if I didn't there's no way I could do as many trips as I do.

And then there's the timing aspect of when you want to go. Take note of park opening hours etc obviously - but also take into account local school and public holidays. It's very easy to forget that different countries have slightly different holidays throughout the year, and you may find that what you thought would be a dead weekday is randomly some public holiday you never knew existed and the park will be rammed. If possible, aim to do a weekday and aim to go outside of school holidays and you should be in good stead for a nice quiet visit - but also be aware that not all parks operate during off peak or they may do maintenance on certain rides during the quieter periods, so always worth double checking.

Finally, seasonal stuff. If you're after a specific holiday show or characters or food or whatever - check the dates the event is running and either go right at the start of the event or right at the end. You'll often find that these events are busiest right in the middle of their operations and it'll be no fun if it's mega busy to try to be tactical with your dates.

I often get asked how I choose which parks I want to visit, and the answer is I look for 'clusters' of parks that seem like they'd make sense to do all together. After years of staring at maps on the Internet and plotting out fantasy trips, I'm pretty well rehearsed on what parks are where, but Coast2Coaster is an absolutely invaluable tool for plotting out your route. Often you'll stumble across a park you've never heard of with a +3 and sometimes these weird and wonderful places are where you end up having most fun because they're so weird and random. Especially in the likes of Germany and the Netherlands.

Once you've figured out the vague area you want to visit and your top list of parks, head on over to Google Maps, plot all of your stops and fiddle around with the order to optimise your route and you're good to go! When you're plotting this route this is also a good time to take note of major towns nearby that will help you when booking your hotels down the line.

I make no secret of the fact that hotels is where I really scrimp on my trip planning budget. The way I see it, I'm not going to be there for any length of time as I'm going to be in the parks for the majority of the trip, so why spend loads of money on something I'm not actually going to benefit from? That said, I do have my limits so when I head to Booking.com I always make sure the hotels I'm booking are a hotel, have a rating of at least 8, have a 24 hour check in, have free parking and free WiFi. From that you can usually guarantee the place isn't going to be an absolute shit hole, at least in my experience anyway.

There are exceptions, of course. Every now and then the parks will do an amazing deal on Resort hotel and park ticket combos, so make sure you sign up to receive e-mails from parks you're thinking of visiting as often you can nab a fab deal that ends up being better or equal value that buying it all separately!

This one's always harder for me to give advice on as usually I'll just save myself the faff and just book a hire car. There are exceptions to this of course - Disneyland Paris is extremely well connected by public transport with trains, busses, planes and cars all being really straightforward ways to access the park. Liseberg too has a bus that takes you directly from the airport to the gates of the park in about 20 minutes. But honestly, where possible I'd always advise getting a hire car. It means you're able to travel on your own time and aren't at the whim of the public transport schedule. It also means you have somewhere to leave your bags if you're on a longer trip!

And a few other random little points: firstly TopCashback - I highly recommend signing up to TopCashback and booking everything through this. We managed to receive over £100 cashback this year from our trip planning by booking flights, hotels, car hire, car parking and whatever else through it.

Secondly, Revolut. I signed up to Revolut this year and essentially it's like a travel money card all managed through an app. It updates live and you receive a notification as soon as you spend anything on it (I mean instantly, it's mad how quickly it comes through) and it allows you to have different pots for each individual currency. It's fab for when you're actually away but also I use it for saving - I have a GBP account on there that I top up every month with money for trips, meaning I've always got spending money ready and raring to go whenever I head away - all I have to do is exchange it which the app does live at whatever the current rate is.

That's it for another trip planning post - I hope you've found it useful but as always if you have any more specific trip planning questions please leave a comment below or message me on Facebook and I'll be happy to help!

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

4 comments:

  1. Great article and tips! Some basic but very sound advices there, and also several apps and website I did not about.

    I have a lot of plans for 2019, so this will definitely help :)

    Thanks a lot,
    Philippe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the feedback and thanks for reading!

      Delete
  2. Brilliant advice. Will definately be taking these on board next year!!

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