1. Get there early. Like, before it opens. Especially if you’re visiting on a weekend day. AND especially if the day of your visit is gray, cold, and rainy. Because everyone else will have the same great idea you had, to spend a dreary day indoors at a popular attraction.
2. Even better, buy your tickets ahead of time. If you purchase your tickets on-line, you can pick them up at the will-call window and completely bypass the admission line. The caveat is that you can’t buy tickets any later than 24 hours in advance (we thought we could buy tickets while we were stuck in line FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF, but it wasn’t possible), and tickets are not refundable. Oh, and the OTHER caveat is that you can only purchase a general admission pass on-line – any tickets to the special attractions will still need to be purchased on-site.
3. Go to the gift shop first. If you’re bound and determined to get some souveniers, make shopping your first stop. Folks tend to do their souvenir shopping at the end of the day, after they’ve seen everything. By shopping first thing you avoid the lines and crowds, and have access to the best stuff.
4. Get a locker. They’re only seventy-five cents, and you’ll be able to wander around the vast complex unencumbered by bags, jackets, and other accouterments.
5. Don’t eat at noon. If you’re going to buy your lunch there, have lunch early or have lunch late, but DON’T have lunch at any time between 11:30 and 1:00. The cafeteria and concessions are a madhouse during that time.
6. Get in line. Even if the lines for the special attractions (4D IMAX movie, Aquatic show, special exhibits) seem to be long, get in them anyway. Trust me, by the time you make your way back to that exhibit, the line will be three times as long. They seem to move fairly quickly, though, so don’t be discouraged by the teeming masses of people.
7. Have I mentioned this place is crowded? Bring a very large dose of patience, watch your toes and your shins for the veritable army of strollers whizzing about, and watch out for the kids racing around because they surely will NOT watch out for you.
Ticket package prices range from $28-$35 for adults, $20-$26 for children. Hours are typically 9:00-6:00 daily, with some holiday closures and time adjustments to accommodate special events. Check the official website for specific details.
Photo credits (all): Tiffany Joyce