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    15 Tips And Tricks To Outsmart Everyone At The Theme Park

    It's that time of year again.

    Chris Ritter

    1. Bring ziplock bags to protect your cell phone from water rides.

    It is way too often that a cell phone meets its demise during a drop down Splash Mountain. Save your money (and your rice) by taking a simple measure to protect your phone's life.

    2. Take a picture of your parking spot on your digital camera or cell phone.

    Sometimes you look at the lot number and think you've got it all figured out, until you're lost trying to locate your car eight hours later. This is an easy way to find your vehicle quickly!

    3. Pack a poncho in your bag.

    Whether it be rain or a water ride, getting soaked is probably not your preference. Buy a cheap poncho at a Wal-Mart or CVS and be thankful for your dry clothes.

    4. Head to the park early in the morning to avoid big crowds.

    Get some sleep the night before, and make it your mission to be the first one at the park. You can also nap during the afternoon and go back later when people are getting tired and heading home.

    5. Buy a rechargeable smartphone case as a backup plan.

    As much as we don't like to admit it, we humans are compelled to be on the phone all day, every day. Texting, taking pictures, and updating Facebook drains your battery. A rechargeable case will come in handy for several occasions!

    Buy it here.

    6. Purchase tickets online.

    You can most likely find discount codes or season specials when purchasing online. Plus, you'll save a ton of time at the park entrance.

    7. Walk the park backward so you can skip the long, crowded lines.

    Flickr: liangjinjian

    At Islands of Adventure, everyone's instinct is to walk left toward the Hulk. But if you head toward Seuss Landing first, the lines will be much less crowded. Note the direction people tend to follow and head the opposite way.

    8. If you have children with you, write your phone number on their wrist.

    This will help if your child wanders off. You can also write your phone number in the tongue of their shoes.

    9. Look into ticket upgrade options.

    Should you decide you'd like to return to the park another time, you can ask about upgrading to a multi-day pass. Most parks will allow you to apply the cost of that day's ticket to the new pass.

    10. If you're traveling alone, look for the single riders line.

    Honestly, you can even go with your friends and hang out together in the single riders line. It's way shorter and you'll still be off the ride within a few minutes of each other.

    11. Designate a meeting spot should your group get split up.

    Getting lost is an unfortunate situation, but it does tend to happen. If your phones die or you can't seem to get in touch, meeting at a certain spot is your best bet of reuniting.

    12. Go on rides during parades and fireworks shows.

    Flickr: loimere

    Unless you REALLY want to see the shows, use this time to head to the relatively deserted rides. The lines are so short you could probably hit up a roller coaster twice.

    13. For Disney: Purchase tickets before August.

    Flickr: m-i-k-e

    Disney hikes up the prices starting in August, so make your plans before then to save some money.

    14. For Universal: Stay at an on-site hotel.

    If you find some good deals, try to stay at Hard Rock, Portofino, or Royal Pacific. Your room key doubles as a fast pass and offers early entrance to the parks. You can also take a water taxi from the resorts, saving you the woes of parking at the garage.

    15. For Universal: If you have a child with you, ask about Baby Swap.

    Flickr: joeshlabotnik

    This is for the parents who would like to go on rides, but can't bring their children due to height requirements and such. While one parent stays with the baby, the other parent can go on the ride, and then they switch. Win-win!