Hello everyone, I'm Andrew and I was directed to this site by someone I met at Dollywood over the weekend. This looks like a fantastic site, and I'm excited to be part of it.
So let me get to the point, I have been planning a trip to go to different parks for a few months now, and I think it is pretty well planned, but I'd like to run it by the people on here to get some feedback to possibly make it better.
The following parks are what I identified as possibilities: Waldameer in Erie, PA, Conneaut Lake Park in PA just down the road from Waldameer, Knoebels, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Six Flags New England, Lake Compounce, Quassy, Luna Park/Coney Island, Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags America, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Carowinds.
I've already been to Kennywood, so that's why it's not included.
I'm going to have 9 days to do this where on the 9th day I will have to be home, so obviously I can't fit all those parks into 9 days. It will start on a Saturday and end 9 days later on Sunday. It can be any 9 days up until July 23rd. After July 23rd I can no longer have this time off. So obviously I want to go when parks will be less busy and I was thinking May 26th to June 3rd would be best.
So this is the schedule I have planned as of right now:
Sat May 26th: Leave Detroit and do Waldameer and Conneaut Lake.
Sun May 27th: Knoebels
Mon May 28th: Hersheypark
Tue May 29th: Dorney Park
Wed May 30th: Great Adventure
Thu May 31st: Busch Gardens... I understand that it's 5.5 hours between Great Adventure and Busch Gardens, but I figure I can drive 2, maybe 2.5 hours at night after Great Adventure, stay somewhere in Baltimore, and then drive the rest in the morning. I also understand that I am passing Kings Dominion to go to Busch Gardens, but my thinking is that Busch Gardens will not be as busy on a Thursday, and I can always get fast lane at Kings Dominion, and I am not aware of any fast lane at Busch Gardens.
Fri June 1st: Kings Dominion
Sat June 2nd: Carowinds
Sun June 3rd: Drive home to Detroit.
The parks I have the most interest in hitting are Knoebels, Hersheypark, Great Adventure, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens, and Carowinds so I would appreciate any feedback to include those 6 parks on the trip.
I'm also looking for some insight on how busy each park could be on the days I have listed.
Your first day is 9+ hours on the road, not even factoring traffic/construction or bathroom/meal breaks. That is a LOT of driving, even with pit stops at Waldameer and Conneaut. Are you splitting driving duties with someone else? If not, I'd spread this out.
You will not need a full day for Dorney unless you plan on hitting the water park. If you don't, plan on the morning there then the evening at SFGAdv in advance of the full day there.
Your last day is 10+ hours on the road. See above.
Honestly I'd cut out Kings Dominion and Carowinds and build in some more recovery time, especially if you're doing all the driving.
As for how packed each park will be on the listed dates:
Waldameer/Conneaut: No idea Knoebels: You can't get a wristband on a weekend. It's also memorial day weekend. I'm sure Bill or Boldikus will comment more here. Hershey: Memorial Day Monday. Place will be packed if the weather is nice. Dorney: Crowds? LOL. Not on the dry side. SFGAdv: Shouldn't be too bad on a mid-week day. Schools in NJ go until the middle/end of June. Busch: You're right, Thursday will be less crowded. Kings Dominion: Probably won't need the Fast Lane. Just hit Volcano and Flight of Fear right at opening. Carowinds: No idea.
-Mike Total Coasters: 134 Top 10 Steel: Maverick, Skyrush, Intimidator 305, Banshee, Millennium Force, Raptor, Superman: The Ride (SFNE), Top Thrill Dragster, Big Bad Wolf, Volcano Top 10 Wood: The Beast, El Toro, Phoenix (Knoebels), Boulder Dash, Thunderbolt (KW), Mystic Timbers, Comet (Hershey), Hercules, Shivering Timbers, Jack Rabbit (KW) Top 5 Hybrid: Twisted Timbers, Goliath (SFGAm), Wicked Cyclone, Great White, Gemini
That looks like a pretty good itinerary you have to start off with.
Dorney is certainly not a full day park and it might be a good idea to get to Great Adventure that day to get some night rides in after Dorney. I think that you can easily get everything done at Great Adventure on a weekday in May while schools are still in session. Especially if you are willing to get a flash pass. But the biggest reason in my opinion that you should go to Great Adventure the night before is so you can leave as early as possible on your full day there. That brings me to my next point...
Although it says it only takes 5.5 hours to get from Great Adventure to Busch Gardens, that is rarely the case and traffic in the DC/Northern Virginia area is absolutely miserable. Trying to get from Baltimore to Busch Gardens by park opening would be a death march. So try to get as far north as you can after your day at Great Adventure, if you wanna hit one of the Virginia parks at opening. I also recommend you do Kings Dominion before Busch Gardens not only because it's closer, but because crowds really aren't too big a factor at Busch. You should be perfectly fine getting everything done on a Friday.
Other than that your plan looks great. As long as you're okay with the long drives I really don't think you'll be in a rush at any point park wise except perhaps at Hershey. Definitely try to do a normal Monday there instead of Memorial Day if you can. Especially if you have any interest in getting on the new additions to their waterpark.
As a person who drove east > west across the entire length of the country a few months ago, driving long distances absolutely reeks. That last day, driving from Charlotte to Detroit, when you're tired of all the park-hopping and you're not looking forward to going to work the following morning, is probably going to be the worst drive of your life.
I would dump Carowinds and add Kennywood in its place. It will be a nice "encore" day after Kings Dominion, and it's on your way back to Detroit. Kennywood isn't as much of a coaster junkie park but Phantom's Revenge and back seat Jack Rabbit are not to be missed.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg does have a line-skipping system, Quick Queue. They only have info for Christmas Town Quick Queue right now but you can upgrade your ticket the day you get there.
You know what days are crowded, Memorial Day weekend and all Saturdays -- although Memorial Day Monday itself is more like a Sunday (at least by evening) and should be manageable. Still, swap Dorney to Monday and Hershey to Tuesday. Or even swap again: Sun Dorney, Mon Knoebels, Tues Hershey.
Yeah, about the drive from Carowinds to Detroit, this adds a lot of driving to go to that park on a Saturday. If you could save a park from earlier on to go to Sunday (and/or Sat. night) on the way back and drive mostly on Saturday from Carowinds on Friday that might be better. Although I expect you don't want to be late night getting home Sunday and I can't imagine A.J.'s "you're not looking forward to going home" being true by that point. Monday morning, yes, you won't be looking forwards to THAT.
Hi Andrew. Have you visited Kings Island and/or Cedar Point recently? I would ad those to the trip and stop at Hershey, or Great Adventure if you must ride El Toro. Leave the rest for an East Coast trip, where you could add SFNE, Lake Compunce, NY City or maybe Dollywood. Have you attempted a trip like this before? Theme parks are exhausting and adding long driving hours to those days can wear you down quick. As others mentioned, a 10hr drive home after this extensive trip would be awful, potentially dangerous.
First of all, I'd take this whole itinerary and move it a week later. Yeah, it's farther in the summer, but it's not Memorial Day weekend, and that helps a lot.
Start driving on Friday after work and try to get to Cleveland. That will make Saturday driving much better. Leave Waldameer after a couple of hours and drive to Hershey for their preview. You get to enter the last couple of hours, and people start to leave early. Lines are very short, and you can knock out low capacity coasters like Storm Runner. You'll then spend all day Sunday at Hershey, and it'll make the day smoother.
That puts Knoebels on a Monday. This is important because they sell all day wristbands only on weekdays. On weekends it's pay per ride only.
Tuesday you can do Dorney in a couple of hours then drive to Great Adventure. They don't have a preview day like Hershey does, but you can make your own with a Gold season pass. Even if you don't have one, just buy one. Watch for sales, and you can end up paying about $10 more than a one day ticket.Then maybe try to take a weekend trip to Chicago later in the year because you'll get in free.
The rest of your itinerary looks good. You'll be exhausted, but memories are worth it.
First of all, thank you everybody so much for all the feedback!
Mike240SX- I'm not sure how you came up with 9+ hours of drive time on day 1. Detroit to Erie is 4 hours, it would be less than an hour south from Erie to Conneaut Lake. Then I was going to stay there, or start driving east for a couple hours. So that's 7 hours at the most. Yes, still a lot, but something I could easily do. Waldameer has 2 coasters I want to ride, Conneaut Lake has 1, so I figure I could drive east 2 hours and be in the hotel room before dark.
The 10 hour drive home from is something I have done many times. Just last Saturday I left my house at 2 AM and arrived at Dollywood right as the park opened at 11 AM. Stayed at Dollywood until 6 or 7 PM and drove another hour back to Knoxville where my hotel was. Went to Dollywood the following day all day, and drove back to Detroit on Monday. Went to work on Tuesday... Not 10 hours, but close, and I was fine. 10 hours with a lunch and dinner stop is easy for me.
Carowinds and Kings Dominion would be the last parks I want to cut out because I305 and Fury325 are the 2 coasters I want to ride the most. And I have a Cedar Fair platinum pass...
prospekt88- I did plan on getting a flash pass at Great Adventure. I want to ride the best coasters multiple times, and El Toro 4 or 5 times. Would I get to do that on a Wednesday with a flash pass? Thanks for the heads up on the DC traffic. As I am typing this it's 8:00 AM and mapquest says that it should take less than 4 hours from Baltimore to Busch Gardens when taking traffic into consideration. It also gives an alternate route that would take less than 4 hours by taking 301 the Crain Hwy east of DC and getting on 95 north of Richmond. Is that realistic?
I definitely don't want to do Hershey on memorial day so I'm thinking of doing Dorney on Sunday, Knoebels on Monday, and Hershey on Tuesday.
A.J.- I've already been to Kennywood. Thanks for the info on the line skipping system at Busch Gardens.
bill_s - I like the idea of doing Dorney on Sunday, Knoebels on Monday, and Hershey on Tuesday. Thank You! I'm going to switch that up.
ArgoZ - I'm at Cedar Point and Kings Island all the time, (I have the Cedar Fair platinum pass) and I was at Dollywood last week. Next year I will be at Cedar Point opening weekend to ride Steel Vengence! I've been on road trips before, but never one where it was strictly about amusement parks. I went on one where we went west and visited a bunch of national and state parks where there was a ton of walking/ hiking involved. There were some 8-9 hour drives on that trip after long days of hiking. Then I went on a trip to see a bunch of baseball games. That included a drive from St. Louis to Dallas, and then 2 days later Houston to Atlanta, and the next day Atlanta to Baltimore. I did all the driving. I also went to college in Minnesota and drove the 11 hours to and from school many many times in the 4 years I was there.
ytterbiumanalyst- I thought about moving it back a week, but aside from Sunday, and Monday would it matter in terms of crowd size? Plus I'm now planning on hitting Dorney on Sunday, which puts Knoebels on Memorial Day like you suggested, and Hershey on Tuesday. Maybe Dorney will be busy on Sunday, and if really busy I don't mind getting fast lane. As for this gold pass, is it like the Cedar Fair platinum pass where you can get into all Six Flags parks? Because I am also planning on going to Great America in Chicago at some point next year and I will going to Atlanta for work in July. So I figure I can make some time for Six Flags Over Georgia.
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