Saturday, October 08, 2005

Too Many Theme Parks

I've been spending a lot of time in theme parks lately. Last year, we got season passes to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg and the co-located Water Country, USA. I loved both those parks. Busch Gardens is the most charming theme park I have seen, and Water Country is well-constructed and maintained, and has a lot of fun rides.

But anyway, this year was the "off" year for theme parks. Other than an annual pilgrimage to Hershey Park, we didn't have any plans for parks.

Well, not to start. But then we got an offer to spend a weekend in Williamsburg, and they gave us the 3-day memorial weekend in a hotel along with two free Busch Garden tickets. So off we went, and I bought two discounted tickets for the family. Turns out though that Memorial Day weekend is a rather crowded weekend for theme parks, so we ended up finding other things to do.

Then came summer, and we made it through most of summer, and went off to Ohio in August. However, we were looking for something to do in Columbus, and there is this small park called "Wyandot Lake", right next door to the zoo. Turns out it was purchased by Six Flags, so now it is in the Six Flags family even though it is little more than some water slides and a pretty cool but small wooden coaster (they have the best bumper cars though, more like inner tubes on wheels).

Anyway, the kids had screamed about the park the previous year, but the tickets were way more than what the park was worth. However, I checked the web site, and found that for not much more, I could buy a Six Flags season pass to Wyandot, and it would work for all Six Flags parks.

When I tried to buy the internet tickets, turned out I lived too far away, but a nice lady at Wyandot told me I could get the same deal from a local grocery store. And so the saga began, in Mid August.

After spending several days at Wyondot, we came home and immediately shlepped over to Six Flags America for the first time. This is a very large but run-down park, with a good water park. They have a large steel coaster (Superman) and a cool coaster where you actually are hung under the cars held up only by the restraints, like you are flying (BatWing). We ended up attending Six Flags several times over the rest of the summer.

Then, at the end of August, we went back down to Williamsburg to use the tickets we had. However, while checking the web, I found a special deal on Kings Dominion 2006 season passes which included free parking, so I bought them. We took in Kings Dominion the Wednesday after Katrina (it wasn't very crowded) and then went to Busch Gardens on Thursday.

While there, I found it was pretty cheap to upgrade to a 2006 season pass there, which also saved us 10% on our food purchases for the day.

This left me with season passes good for 2005 for three major theme park chains.

We took two more trips to Kings Dominion, and one again to Hershey Park. So we have attended 5 different theme parks, and attended about 15 days or so. The last was today.

Today of course we are in the middle of the remnants of a tropical storm. This made things rather wet, but ensured the park would be sparsely attended. So we got on every ride with almost no waiting, and got to do all the Halloween stuff (except one thing was closed because of the rain). They did close the park early because of the bad weather, which was dissappointing.

Anyway, part of me wanted to drive up to New Jersey to hit that Six Flags park, and I researched other Paramount parks. IN fact I would have scheduled a trip for their "christmas" events at one of the southern parks except that they don't honor season passes.

I remember last year going to Busch Gardens for halloween, the night of I think it was the 2nd Presidential debate. After the 1st I couldn't stand to watch a debate anyway; I had worked hard for my candidate and was tired and needed a break. I ended up in a line with a guy with a bush sticker. Turned out he was military, and I had a wonderful conversation which cheered me up.

I think what I like most about theme parks is the chance you get to meet other people, to chat with them, to talk about stuff you wouldn't talk about.

Last november after the election we went to Tampa, Fla. and spent a dissappointing day at Busch Gardens-Tampa (I wrote of this trip in my first "humor" column).

Theme parks are a great way to get away from stuff. There's been a lot of stuff to get away from lately.

1 comment:

Riley, Not O'Reilly said...

My wife and I have been getting season passes for the Annheuser Busch theme parks for the past couple years. We've found the best deal is to get their platinum level pass through their Sesame Place park in PA north of Philly (they call it the "Super Grover" pass.) Unlike the Busch Gardens platinum passes, you can purchase it one year at a time rather than being obligated to buying a two year pass. These passes are good at Sesame Place, Busch Gardens Williamsburg & Tampa, Water Country USA, Adventure Island (water park in Tampa), plus all 3 of their Sea World parks. This year, we hit both Busch Gardens, Sesame Place and Sea World Orlando. The Platinum / Super Grover pass gets you the discount on food and merchandise plus free preferred parking up near the front gates. Overall a great deal.

Agreed that Six Flags America is a trashy place. My wife and I went there on our second date back in '99 and haven't been back since.