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Fringe 2011: Always be prepared

Your survival guide for Fringe Fest

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Karma: Drop a few bucks in the "Tip the Fringe" jar. It's good karma.

LATENESS: The one hard and fast rule at Fringe is no late entry; even if you've paid for a ticket, once the doors close you're not getting in. Arrive at Loch Haven Park at least 30 minutes before your showtime and leave plenty of time to walk to your venue; it may be on the opposite end of the complex.

Parking: You'll hear as many theories as there are spots - which is to say, quite a few, but not enough. With multiple Florida Hospital construction projects, the elimination of many Mills Avenue spots in front of Loch Haven Park and various street-widening projects in the surrounding neighborhoods, this year more than ever it pays to arrive early. It may be best for your mental health to bite the bullet and pay to park in the Orlando Science Center garage. If you absolutely refuse to pay, get there before 10 a.m. to try and park in the Shakes lot, or explore Alden Road above Orange Avenue and hoof it. Better yet, ride your bike. There are ample bike racks available.

Secret Make-out Spot: We're not saying how we know this, but the best place for a secret make-out session is the Mennello Museum grounds after dark. Romance!

Tickets: Popular shows will sell out, and the box office lines can move slowly. Save yourself some hassle and buy online with a credit card. You'll pay the same $1 per ticket processing fee whether you buy in person or online; the only catch is that the discounts offered by some shows aren't valid on Internet sales.

Twitter: Follow @OrlandoFringe on Twitter. Brian Feldman is 2011's official Fringe tweeter, constantly posting insider scoops and retweeting reviews and tips. Somehow he manages to convey the Fringe experience in 140- character blips.

Weather: Don't forget a hat and/or umbrella. Until Fringe wises up and moves seating off the central lawn into the shade, prepare to bake while sipping your beverage; and until the sun falls out of the sky, there will be afternoon rain showers in Central Florida. If you get drenched despite best efforts, duck into the Orlando Museum of Art to buy a dry T-shirt or a new bumbershoot.

Some restaurants and bars near Fringe 2011

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