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Theme Parks...and tourists traps...


Carlucci
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My wife and I have decided against the Disney World Vacation this year, as it will strain the budget just a little too much.

 

We have, however, decided to embark on a Theme Park odyssey. In mid-June, we'll pack up the kids in the family truckster, and travel from Houston to Ohio, to visit both Cedar Point and Paramount King's Island. Those two parks have some of the top-rated coasters in the U.S. Along the way, we will probably also stop at Six Flags St. Louis and maybe even Six Flags Dallas. (those will be free with our Season Passes)

 

Cindy and I have been coaster enthusiasts for years, and have been to many theme parks in the U.S., but never the two in Ohio. Now that my sons are getting tall enough to ride, they are joining us in our love of the adrenaline rush.

 

I would love advice on your experiences with the two Ohio parks and Six Flags St. Louis. What are the must-rides, shows, etc?

 

Also, if anyone knows of any worthwhile detours, like the 2nd largest ball of string in America, along the way From Houston to Ohio, please let me know.

 

Anyone want to know about the parks in Texas, I can help.

 

Carlos.

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I haven't had the opportunity to go to Ceder Point yet, but I have been to King's Island several times. My favorite ride, and the one you have to go on, is Drop Zone. The Beast and Son of Beast are cool too, if you like wooden coasters. I find the ride nowhere near as smooth as a metal coaster, so I can't ride them to many times without my neck starting to hurt. Face-Off is cool too. Last time I was there, Face-Off got stuck way up on top of the first hill, and that was just creepy. That's just my two cents.

 

Clay

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I was at Cedar Point a couple of years back, and for me the #1 must ride coaster there was the Millennium Force - very high, very fast, very smooth, and very fun :D It gets a big :tu:

 

The Wicked Twister and Top Thrill Dragster weren't there when I was, so I can't say anything about them, except that I need to go back to ride them. ;)

 

The Gemini is a great out-and-back wooden coaster. The Mean Streak is another great wooden coaster, which I was very very impressed with - just a good fun ride.

 

I'm trying to remember what some of the other ones were that I rode - the Magnum XL-200 I think, Blue Streak, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, the Manits, Raptor, and probably some of the others. I can't remember for sure, but I remember having fun with most everything we rode. Nothing for me to say "stay away from!"

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Cedar Point and Kings Island are the two best Thrill Parks I have been to.

 

My favorite wooden coaster is the Beast at KI - it just keeps going and going and going. Son of Beast was fun but I just found it more painful than fun. Millennium Force at CP is pure speed.

 

My only advice is don't embark on a 12+ hour drive after a full day at CP thinking the adrenaline rush will pull you through.

 

"...but everyone sleeps in Cracker Barrel parking lots."

-Kain Rising looking for any chance for some shut eye

 

 

He he (he will never live that one down).

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For those who have been to Cedar Point, do you think 1 day is sufficient to ride all the rides and see some of the shows, or should we get plan on spending 2-days there. Keep in mind we'll have our 1 year old with us, and that will cause us to move a little slower.

 

Carlos.

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Originally posted by Carlucci@Mar 18 2004, 10:37 AM

For those who have been to Cedar Point, do you think 1 day is sufficient to ride all the rides and see some of the shows, or should we get plan on spending 2-days there. Keep in mind we'll have our 1 year old with us, and that will cause us to move a little slower.

 

Carlos.

1 day was enough for us to hit the major thrillrides, but 2 days would definitely have been nice (if only so we could have ridden the Millennium Force a few more times ;) ). I'd say if you have the time, take 2 days - that way you won't have to rush rush rush (we did), especially with a young one along. You also might be able to see some of the non-thrillrides they have - which I don't know anything about - we didn't spend any time with those :twisted:

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  • 3 years later...

Well, this trip never happened back in 2004. I forget why we had to cancel. I'm sure it had to do with some unexpected cash layout.

 

So we're trying again this year. Which is better because now BOTH my sons will be tall enough to ride all the rides. So far, all lights are green and all systems are go for a June 1 departure. I'm getting nervous because it's getting really close.. Here is our itinerary:

 

Day 1 (June 1)

--Leave Houston at noon, arrive Hot Springs, Arkansas before midnight.

 

Day 2

--Travel up the scenic Hwy 7 throught the Ozark Mountains. Arrive at Branson, MO.

--Check into hotel. Spend the rest of the Day sightseeing and at Silver Dollar City

 

Day 3

--Full Day at Silver Dollar City

 

Day 4

--Leave Branson, travel to St. Louis. Visit the Gateway Arch, lunch on a riverboat, etc. Depart St. Louis. Arrive near Cincinatti, OH. Right now it looks like we are going to skip the Six Flags in St. Louis, as I've been there before and it really doesn't seem like they have much to get excited about, coaster-wise.

 

 

Day 5

--Full Day at King's Island. Either Spend the night here or make the drive halfway to Sandusky.

 

Day 6

--Half or Full Day at Cedar Point

 

Day 7

--Full Day at Cedar Point

 

Day 8

--Full day at Geauga Lake

 

This above 3-park jaunt will be made possible by the Cedar Fair Maxx pass, which will allow us to get to into all 3 parks with one season pass. It seems the best possible value.

 

Day 9

--Begin Journey Home. Posibly return through Kentucky to tour Mammoth Caves

 

Day x (it gets really fuzzy from here)

--Arrive New Braunsfels, TX. Spend a few nights here, totally RELAXING (for a change). Possibly go to The Schlitterbaun waterpark (if there's any money left)

 

Return home June 15 or 16. Return to work June 18.

 

I have a rather large budget for this little excursion. I've decided to roll all of the money I saved for my Big Screen HDTV (and then some!) into this vacation. Upon reflection, I decided a big screen is not in my best interest as it would probably encourage me to return to my old sedentary ways, and after spending all this time/energy getting into shape, that's the last thing I need.

 

It sound really regimented in reading it back, but we will be flexible and able to adapt to changes. So, if anywhere along the way (like for instance we decide we need 2 days at King's Island, we can be flexible.) And if at any point we decide we've bitten off too much, we can scale it back and save some things for another try.

 

Any thoughts and comments from veterans of these parks will be greatly appreciated.

 

Wish me luck!

 

 

Carlos.

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Sounds like a great trip! Never been to PKI myself, but I've done a couple of treks to Cedar Point, and I'm actually heading down next week for the May 24 long weekend.

 

I'd say that 2 days at CP are a must, especially if you've never been, and want multiple trips on things like Millennium Force and Raptor. I haven't been since 2002, so I have yet to ride TTD, and Maverick (this year's new coaster) also looks awesome. Looking around for a decent place to stay right now actually-the onsite hotels at CP look tempting, but when I called they were talking about $170/night. Not having to pay parking is nice, but not that great a benefit. Expedia found a lot of great deals elsewhere. Besides, I don't know if they still do it, but the parking at CP used to be redeemable for a discount at a couple of the restaurants in the park (as well as giving you one free in/out of the lot to eat offsite if you want).

 

The Maxx pass is actually a great deal, and with CF's acquisition of the paramount parks, it means that the same pass can get us into Canada's Wonderland (which is about half an hour from home) and CP. Best of all, the Maxx pass that costs $140 US at CP is only $85 CDN at Wonderland! No idea why, but I'm not going to complain about the deal. Only catch is that you have to get your passes processed at the home park, so it's not really plausible for you guys unless you add a swing northward to hit one more park. For what it's worth, Canada's Wonderland isn't a bad park-there's a decent variety of coasters, and some good flats, but nothing near as big or impressive as CP. It's a case that it's good as a local park, but it's not near the "destination" that CP is. Nice feature is that the waterpark at Wonderland is included with the regular park admission, so you can get in on the regular Maxx pass (instead of the Maxx plus).

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Carlos,

I don't know if you have visited six flags in the recent years but they added a fast pass that allows you to skip the lines and such. I'd factor that into your budget as well because it will save you a lot of time.

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My wife and I have been to Worlds of Fun way back in 1992. I thought the Timberwolf was a pretty good wooden coaster. In fact, my oldest son may have been conceived while on that trip. (no, not on the coaster)

 

But we had ruled out WoF this trip until you linked me to the site, AND Chris mentioned that the MaxPasses were different prices at different parks. It looks like we could save $200 if we went to WoF first, because their MaxxPass is $40 cheaper than at King's Island, which would have been our first stop. To save $200 on the passes AND get to see another park may be too tempting. And Mapquest shows just under 4 hours from Branson to WoF. Hmm, definitely something to think about.

 

I hadn't seen that theme park in Hot Springs before. That's a nice spot for a park. Looks like it might need another few years to mature though. I'll definitely add that as a stop the next time we head over there. This time, we're just going to catch some Z's in Hot Springs before heading through the Ozarks at first light.

 

Shane, did you ever make a trip up to Harrison, AR, to see the Marine Corps Legacy Museum? We will be passing right by there and I was wondering if it would be a worthwhile stop.

 

Six Flags closed Astroworld here in Houston, so I'm not in much of a mood to give them any of my money. But I can't blame them, the land it was sitting on was just too primo for them to hold onto. Plus, business hates a vacuum, so I'll keep hoping that some other company will jump in and start a new one in the large Houston market.

 

 

Carlos.

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I can fill you in on Silver Dollar City. My wife's aunt and uncle run the weddings there and he is the town minister after being the town sheriff for many years. We go multiple times a year as we get in free so I know a lot about the park and its services.

 

First thing, do not underestimate the traffic in Branson. If you are planning on being at the park at open, I recommend leaving very early in the morning as the road to Silver Dollar City from Branson gets congested about an hour before the park springs to life. It can easily take 1 - 2 hours to get from Branson to SDC just because of the traffic, if you haven't left your hotel by 9-10am prepare for the worse.

 

There is an hour before the park proper opens that allows you to enter and stand around in the Town Square or eat at Molly's Mill, I HIGHLY recommend skipping the continental breakfast at your hotel and spending the money on Molly's Mill's all you can eat breakfast buffet. Homemade biscuits, bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, sausage gravy, silver dollar pancakes, hash browns, fresh fruit, and much more. Its about $10 w/drink per person and its great, I look forward to that meal more then anything else in the park. Molly's Mill also has an all you can eat Country Fried Steak/Chicken meal for lunch - dinner and it too is fantastic, its about $12 w/drink per person.

 

Thats one thing about SDC, the food is everywhere and its all so fresh and delicious. Many of the eateries you go to you watch your food being made by a SDC citizen(they call the workers citizens) the same way it was done in the old time days. I can't remember the name of it, but there is a sandwich shop that makes this GIGANTIC sandwiches that easily feed both my wife and I.

 

There are a ton of shops selling handmade goods, the park goes around the world and hires artisans to come to the park and make the items you see for sell, some of the stuff is imported etc. but the good stuff is made right in front of your eyes. This is one of the neat things about the park, your kids can actually watch a real blacksmith make something, a real glass blower turn a ball of molten sand into a beautiful vase, a ceramic artisan turn clay into a bird house, a wood worker take a plank of wood and turn it into a baseball bat. Everywhere you turn there are real life artisans make beautiful things.

 

Silver Dollar City's Marvel Cave is great and I recommend doing it later in the afternoon when it gets hot outside.

 

To help avoid the lines on the two newest coasters I recommend doing them first when the inner gates open. The are right by each other on the left hand side of the park. WildFire has a couple of corkscrews and loops and is a pretty fun coaster. The next coaster down is called Powder Keg and its a pressure launch coaster, its a blast. By mid days the lines for these rides can get out of hand. In between those two coasters is the log ride, Great American Plunge. After that set of rides you reach the back of the park and here lies one of the oldest rides at SDC, and its a classic! Its called Fire In The Hole and its an indoor coaster that tells a neat little story about the Baldknobbers burning the town down. Be sure and keep hold of your pants ;) (that'll make more sense after you ride it).

 

Down in this area is the famous SDC Saloon, which is has a neat little Saloon show that they do every hour or so. Its always packed and popular. Also back there is the SDC Opera House, you'll be there during the Bluegrass Festival so I imagine they'll be some Bluegrass bands playing in it. The shows here always have huge lines and its best to get there about 45 minutes before the show starts if you want a good seat.

 

Still going along the back side of the park you'll come to the newest area that houses the newest ride, The Giant Swing. Two huge swings send the riders up to 6 stories high, the line was HUGE when were there last so we didn't ride it. Looked fun though.

 

Coming back down towards the center of the park, you'll enter the kids area with a huge fort for them to run around in and then to the left is the water front. Here you have the Lost River ride, if you ride this be ready to get WET, soaking wet. I hate getting too wet so we avoid it like the plague. After this is Splash Harbor and Geyser Gulch, a place for the kids to get even wetter. Again avoid like the plague if you don't want to get soaked. Then the Tobaggon ride, you'll get wet on this one too and sometimes it gets shut down from people tipping over in the tubes, dumb ass kids who are trying to tip it over.

 

Still going on the right side of the park now is the Grand Exposition, which has several kids rides. There is one ride here though that you must ride I think, its called The Electro Spin. Its a lot of fun.

 

From the Grand Exposition you head back to the front of the park and you'll pass the ceramic studio and then on the right you'll see the flooded mine and the train station. The train is always popular and it includes a little show. To the right of the train is the entrance to the flooded mine. This is a nice and slow ride that has you shooting targets with electronic guns, you can see your score on the gun and challenge each other to see who gets the most points.

 

Back towards Town Square and across from the woodworker shop is SDC's first outdoor coaster, Thunderation. I really like the simplicity of Thunderation and it has a great spiral drop that goes underground. The a hill that takes you zipping through the tree tops. You can ride this one backwards too in speacially marked cars.

 

Heading back towards town square you'll pass the jewlery maker, candy maker, glass blowers, and blacksmith. After those you'll be in Town Square. If you are lucky enough in Town Square you can catch a shoot out between the sheriff and some crooks. Going towards the middle of the park from Town Square you'll have the Bakers Mill on the right, there is a set of Beverly Hillbillies episodes where they went home, those were filmed right there in that part of SDC. The Indian Bread that they make in the mill is fantastic. Across the way is Grandfathers Mansion, which is one of the original attractions at the park, kids always seem to get a blast out of it.

 

After this you've been around the park and if you haven't done it yet, hit up the cave!

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Carlos,

I don't know if you have visited six flags in the recent years but they added a fast pass that allows you to skip the lines and such. I'd factor that into your budget as well because it will save you a lot of time.

 

Carlos, have a wonderful time.

 

A bit off topic, but I deplore theme parks that offer "pay for line cutting" options. The segregation of 1st class and coach should be left for the airlines, not theme parks. Why? ….Kids. Try explaining to a 5 yr. old why they have to remain paitient in line for an hour while others just zip on through to the front. I shouldn't have to feel pressured into "upgrading" my admission for $100 to keep up with the Joneses. :furious

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A bit off topic, but I deplore theme parks that offer "pay for line cutting" options. The segregation of 1st class and coach should be left for the airlines, not theme parks. Why? ….Kids. Try explaining to a 5 yr. old why they have to remain paitient in line for an hour while others just zip on through to the front. I shouldn't have to feel pressured into "upgrading" my admission for $100 to keep up with the Joneses.

 

I'm not a big fan of it, but the only place I've been that has done this was Universal Orlando, and there it wasn't out of hand. Actually, they had the best system of all with the Single Rider lines. As long as you don't care about being on the same car at the same time as the rest of your group, you can get on in about 1/4 the time as the normal lines. I was also a fan of how Disney did the fastpasses for their rides. Not sure how CP is doing it these days, but the last time I was there they just did stamps for one ride a day (MF or wicked twister). I wouldn't be surprised if it expanded to 2 rides a day with TTD and Maverick.

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Dave are you referring to the gizmos that let you scan a pager at the end of the line, and then it goes off telling you when to come back? I've seen that at Six Flags before, but it seemed to be going unutilized when I was there. Maybe it was too pricey.

 

We plan to make full use of the "switch off" program on the big rides while we are in the parks. That's the one where you carry your toddler with you through the queue, then one person rides, then you pass the toddler over, while the other one rides. If there's a third person involved, that person gets to ride twice. That will work out great to get my kids two rides in a row.

 

Kelley, thanks for the in depth insight to SDC. My wife and I went there in the years BC (Before Children), and had a great time. I will print out your advice for my wife to read.

 

Carlos.

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Day 4

--Leave Branson, travel to St. Louis. Visit the Gateway Arch, lunch on a riverboat, etc. Depart St. Louis. Arrive near Cincinatti, OH. Right now it looks like we are going to skip the Six Flags in St. Louis, as I've been there before and it really doesn't seem like they have much to get excited about, coaster-wise.

 

You're doing the right thing by skipping the St. Louis Six Flags. There really aren't any stand out rides. It's an average theme park, IMO.

 

Do the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour. It's pretty impressive (kids will like it too) and you get free beer at the end. It only takes about 90 minutes or so and is a lot more fun than the Arch.

 

This sounds like a great vacation. I look forward to your thoughts after its all over.

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A bit off topic, but I deplore theme parks that offer "pay for line cutting" options. The segregation of 1st class and coach should be left for the airlines, not theme parks. Why? ….Kids. Try explaining to a 5 yr. old why they have to remain paitient in line for an hour while others just zip on through to the front. I shouldn't have to feel pressured into "upgrading" my admission for $100 to keep up with the Joneses.

It was $40 the last time I was there and SO VERY worth it. We split the cost amongst the group of 4 that went so $10 for the day was a drop in the bucket considering I spent that on a soda ;)

 

Carlos,

I haven't been to Harrison in ages. I couldn't really tell you. Likewise for Branson. I haven't been since 1979. I'm sure it's changed :)

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It was $40 the last time I was there and SO VERY worth it. We split the cost amongst the group of 4 that went so $10 for the day was a drop in the bucket considering I spent that on a soda ;)

 

Carlos,

I haven't been to Harrison in ages. I couldn't really tell you. Likewise for Branson. I haven't been since 1979. I'm sure it's changed :)

 

$40? Where? Six Flags Little Rock?

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$40? Where? Six Flags Little Rock?

 

HAHAHAH yea its up to like $85.00.. Plus like 40$ for a speed pass to cut lines.. With food and everything, You could actually leave the country for the money you spend at Jackson sixflags:)

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$40? Where? Six Flags Little Rock?

$40 for the pass at Six Flags over Texas. We shared the pass amongst the 4 of us. Best $10 a person we spent.

 

Admission was $35 but we used my discount passes down to $18 during fright fest.

 

It was also OU - Texas weekend(when Texas was losing). I'm surprised we found a hotel room.

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I grew up in Louisville and went to Kings Island several times as a kid, but haven't been there in about 15 years. I've only been to a handful of other parks, Disneyworld being the most famous of them. So with a somewhat limited experience in Roller Coasters, I will say that The Beast is the best ride that I have ever been on. I'm not sure if it is still this way, but as you wait in line, the only hint that you can see of the coaster is the gigantic first hill and resulting drop that disappears in the woods. The rest of the ride is a mystery until you actually get to experience. This is much different than The Vortex (Kings Island's other big coaster), where you can see every twist, turn, loop and drop that you will be subjected to. I never liked the ride that much, as it was over too quickly for the length of the waits to finally ride it. However, my other favorite coaster at the park is The Racer. Its just a simple wooden coaster that has two coasters going at the same time, so the lines go very quick. No loops, just a lot of great up and downs. If I remember correctly, the backwards coaster usually wins.

 

There is also a Six Flags in Louisville near the airport and Churchill Downs. I've never been there, but perhaps the other guys from Kentucky could comment. By that point in your trip you may be tired of Theme Parks though, so you'd probably enjoy a day more at Mammoth Cave. Another good detour if you're going through Louisville on your way home would be to stop by the Louisville Slugger Museum. Your boys might enjoy getting their own personalized baseball bats.

 

Enjoy the trip!

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Bad news for those of us going to Cedar Point this year:

 

Maverick opening delayed

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 9:31:51 AM

 

Cedar Point Press Release

 

May 10th Media Preview Cancelled

 

Sandusky, Ohio – Cedar Point announced today that the opening of Maverick, the park’s 17th roller coaster, will be delayed until early June to make modifications to the coaster’s steel track.

 

The Media Preview of Maverick scheduled for Thursday, May 10 has been cancelled. The ride will not be in operation on Opening Day.

 

The decision to delay the opening of Maverick was based on pre-opening tests and consultation with IntaRide, the manufacturer of the ride. Based on these discussions, it has been determined that three sections of steel track following the launch tunnel should be replaced.

 

“We apologize to all of our guests for this inconvenience,” said John Hildebrandt, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “This decision was made in the interest of improving the guest experience on the ride and to eliminate excessive stress on the trains.”

 

The modification process is already underway and the park hopes to open the ride by early June.

 

Cedar Point will be open daily Saturday, May 12 through Labor Day, Sept. 3. It will reopen for a Bonus Weekend on Sept. 7-9 and seven HalloWeekends from Sept. 14-16 through October 26-28, 2007.

 

This sucks, since I'm going down next weekend and was hoping to get a ride on the new coaster. It's not a complete loss, since the rest of the park is awesome, and I'm sure we'll have a great time, but I was also really looking forward to a new coaster. Something for the next trip I suppose :)

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