Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

Time for the 2006 seasonal theme park wrap-up!

Written by
Published: September 3, 2006 at 2:41 PM

Is it really September already?

As the kiddies go back to school, most parks have already dropped their weekday operations. For the majority of the country the theme/amusement park season is coming to a close. How'd your season go? Did you hit all the parks you wanted to? What was the best new stuff you encountered? What was the worst? What was the best/worst new park you visited?

Let's hear the dirt, so the rest of us can start planning 2007 accordingly!

Readers' Opinions

From Scott Seal on September 3, 2006 at 4:48 PM
I had a great time this summer. I went to BGE about 6 times (I've got one left with Howl-O-Scream, you know?), Water Country once, King's Domininon once, and hit all the parks at Disney World, minus Blizzard Beach. Overall, I had a good experience, but, I can think of a few complaints about my two local parks...

BGE - The park is starting to show it's age. There's been only one major park change since I've began getting season passes four years ago, and that was DarKastle. I know that they are aiming to become a tourist attraction park, but the reality is, most of their business comes from locals, and since they aren't trying to go thrill for thrill with King's Dominion, they really need to expand the options for the non-coaster riders who choose Busch Gardens because of it's themes, not because of it's rides. Speaking of which, things are starting to look really stale and tired around BGW, and the older areas of the park could certainly use some color.

Suggestions: A NEW CLOSER SHOW, a new country, 4 new non-coaster rides (and not midway rides...real rides, like Pirates of the Carribean or Space Ranger Spin), three new shows, a new sit-down restaurant, and a face lift (new paint and signs) for almost everything there.

PKD - Same complaint as always...figure out who you want to be. Are you a studio theme park or a roller coaster amusement park? Either way, the theming needs to be punched up. Also, the food at PKD sucks. Every place has the same burgers and fries menu. Offer some variety. Parts of the park look really dumpy, too.

Suggestions: 3 restaurants, some major themeing of the different areas of the park (congo, old virginia, etc...you'd never know you were in a specific "land" if you didn't see the name on the park map), a new roller coaster, and a night time fireworks show.

From Russell Meyer on September 3, 2006 at 8:31 PM
I definitely didn't get to all the parks I wanted to this year. I was hoping to make a trip out to Indiana to ride The Voyage at Holiday world and also hit Kennywood, Kings Island, and Kentucky Kingdom, but sadly it kept getting pushed back until I finally settled on a week when all of the parks were closed.

I did make a trip through the southeast to ride Goliath at SFOG. It's quite a good coaster, especially considering the small amount of space it actually takes up in the park and the fact it is a hypercoaster. The coaster has lots of airtime, but it just isn't quite as good as Apollo's Chariot or Nitro. I also his Paramount's Carowinds, which I hadn't been to in ages, and thanks to a well timed thunderstorm managed to get on all of the major coasters on a very busy Saturday. I also made a trip up to Jackson to visit SFGAdv to ride El Toro. When Six Flags announced the wooden coaster last year, I was incredibly skeptical. Heck, I was skeptical standing in line listening to it scream by like a jet fighter. The coaster sounds and feels nothing like a wooden coaster, but vaulted to the top of my best wooden coaster list for its amazing smoothness and unrelenting speed. Phoenix, sadly, has been finally trumped. I made a couple trips down to Williamsburg and Doswell for BGE and PKD. I was a bit disappointed in PKD's Italian Job Stunt Track, the park's fourth launching coaster, but the recent decline in season pass prices and addition of free parking to the passes makes the one hour drive a little easier to take. BGE is still my favorite park, and I'm really exciting to see the park's 5th roller coaster, Griffon, take flight next year. I'll obviously be re-upping my Platinum pass at the end of the year.

I made a couple of trips to Dan Snyder Land, AKA SFA, and realized that some things never change, but it's harder to find better deal than to spend $50 for a SFA season pass that is valid at all SF parks.

It was a pretty good year, but as I ofter do, I find myself looking ahead to the next year and the great stuff on the way. I will definitely be taking a trip next year to the midwest to hit Holiday World and probably Cedar Point to ride Maverick. I hope to take another trip down to Florida to hit the Disney and Universal parks. However, this season isn't over yet, and we;ve still got two months of some of the best times to go to theme parks with Halloween events, shorter lines, and cooler tempuratures.

From Erik Yates on September 3, 2006 at 8:39 PM
I also didnt make all the trips I wanted to. I will be going to BGA next week, plus a trip to HOS at the end of the month.
Did get to SFOG, and I have to say Goliath, while thrilling, just didnt do as well as I thought. Maybe its just me. I had a better time in Atlanta at the aquarium staring at the four whale sharks.
I hope next year I can get to BGE while the passes are still good and hit Griffon, really like the sound of it. And there is still HHN at Universal, plus the opening of "The Seas with Nemo and other pixar friends" at disney in October....so there is still some fun times to be had, hopefully with shorter lines.
From steve lee on September 3, 2006 at 10:01 PM
Sigh. Pretty crafty of me not to respond to my own question, eh? We were working on a video this summer, so we found ourselves hitting a lot more parks than I'd ordinarily hit. Parks with an * were first time visits for me,

1. Sea World Orlando
2. Universal Studios
3. Islands of Adventure
4. Magic Kingdom
5. MGM Studios
6. Six Flags Over Georgia
7. Paramount's Carowinds
8. Geauga Lake*
9. Camden Park*
10. Cedar Point*
11. Coney Island (Cincinnati)*
12. King's Island*
13. Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom*
14. Holiday World*
15. Myrtle Beach Pavillion*
16. Wyandot Lake/Columbus Zoo*

Of the new parks, I was most impressed with Holiday World. This gem of a park cannot stay obscure forever. The staff there was extremely friendly, the theming was pretty-well done, and the prices are some of the most reasonable in the business. Topping that off was the best coaster I rode this year: The Voyage. Yeah, it's that good. I think my enjoyment of The Beast was hindered because I had been on Voyage first. And let me point something out - prior to Holiday World, I didn't really care much for wooden coasters.

Park most in need of help - well, Camden Park and Coney Island both cater to a specific demographic. I think that both were charming smaller parks, but I felt the most kinship to Coney Island. Like its namesake in NY, this place is a shell of what it once was. Flooding of the Ohio River decades back destroyed much of what was a thriving amusement park. That said, the place was pretty crowded when we went (the wave pool area was extremely full), so hopefully they'll be able to restore the park to its full potential (though being 25 minutes from King's Island doesn't help).

Biggest disappoinment - Cedar Fair. We hit Geauga Lake first, and I hoped that what I saw there was indicative of a park in a state of flux - that CF had spent a lot of time removing the Six Flags theming and they just hadn't had time to install their own stuff there. Then we went to Cedar Point, and I realized that CF runs straight-out amusement parks with minimal theming. Cedar Point has a few areas that were themed, but if there aren't any attractions that tie into the theming then what's the point? Needless to say, I am extremely concerned about what's going to happen to the Paramount parks. If they remove all the theming, they're just going to end up with five more Geauga Lakes (though more profitable ones, at least).

Oh, and I went to Cedar Point in May and August, and MF was closed both times for maintenance. I guess that's a credit I'll just have to pass on, since I have zero intention of going back there anytime soon.

From ryan saunders on September 3, 2006 at 10:22 PM
lol this joker goes 2 parks 4 theming, i'm so glad you didn't get to get on MF as I'm sure the park doesn't want your kind on the ride any way. Me and 99% of the rest of america prefers CP over any other place in the world as you can see what award it has won for the past 9 years in a row. So you go enjoy your boring themes and We will enjoy the rides in Heaven.
From Jessie Phillips on September 3, 2006 at 10:44 PM
We have season passes to 6 flags, but am very doubtful that we will renew them after years of keeping our passes. 6 flags has turned into a joke, brunch with bugs? a guided tour? prefered parking? chaffered parking? designated smoking areas? character parade? all the while under guise of promoting it as a family friendly park. Even though they sell beer and whiskey labeled T-shirts and made 6 flags appear to be a cheap daycare center. all they have done is raise prices on everything, made it unenjoyable for guests and made 6 flags a joke, trying to immatate disney and universal. Someone could run 6 flags better if they would play a round of rollercoaster tycoon
From Bruce Lane on September 3, 2006 at 11:06 PM
I can see from the other comments that some folks have had an amazingly busy year! Congrats to all the coaster and regular theme park fans, and I hope you have an equally fun time next year.

For my part, it's actually been a quiet year in terms of "theme" parks (zoos and oceanariums for us). My wife and I were fortunate enough to get down to Bandon, Oregon again, in mid-August, and visit our favorite wildlife park. This year, we got introduced to three very energetic cougar cubs, a lioness cub, and an assortment of ferrets, opossums, and an albino skunk named 'Lilac' that was so darn big she resembled a furry football.

We also, over the July 4th weekend, got up to the Greater Vancouver (BC) zoo. I got to spend some quality time with a young great horned owl, named 'Hagrid.' You could tell he was still a youngster because he had enough down on him to stuff a small pillow.

As it turns out, Hagrid's keepers (the folks who run the birds-of-prey show at the zoo) are running a series of one-day seminars designed to teach attendees the basics of falconry: How to handle the birds, how to fly them to a lure, etc. I'll be attending that course tomorrow (Sep. 4th), and will write more about it after I get back. I'm looking forward to seeing how Hagrid has grown up (he'll be into his adult feathers by now).

That's really about it for this year. Next year, however, around May, we're going up to Niagara Falls to do both Marineland Canada (just the animal-related stuff, no coasters for us due to physical limitations -- sorry, coaster folk) and the Toronto Zoo.

The only other thing I want to add is that I find the general topic of this thread ironic, in that the "off-season" is when my wife and I PREFER to do our zoo visits. We've both found that the best visits can be had just after the big season ends, but before the weather turns nasty.

Happy travels.

From steve lee on September 3, 2006 at 11:56 PM
Ryan, thanks for adding nothing to the conversation. Cedar Point doesn't want "my kind" there? What, discriminating adults with a lot of disposable income? Yeah, that makes a great deal of sense. Relying on mothers buying season passes for their ungrateful teenagers must do a bangup job of paying the bills at Cedar Fair.

And yeah, I value theming in a park. That's why I post at THEME PARK Insider, not Coasterbuzz, Pointbuzz, or kosterzrkool.com (okay, I made up that last one).

Now, do you have anything to add to THE FLIPPING TOPIC, Ryan, or do we have to read more of the standard issue "CP is heaven on earth" crap? That dog ain't hunting.

From Mark Walker on September 4, 2006 at 12:34 AM
Having been to Florida 9 times, once every year in fact, I still couldn't make my mind up as to which was the best year. The U.S always does it for me on any holiday. Florida has always been the best for the theme park experience.

Not that England has any bad parks.

The worst park would have to be Cedar Point, since one person in perticular makes it sound worse every response he does.

From Jordi Dunn on September 4, 2006 at 7:51 AM
Wow, it does sound like everyone has had a busy busy year! This has been a very boring year for me with themeparks. I usually try to go to at least one good one, but other things came up this year. I have only been to 2, well one isnt really a park, but Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tn (I recieved a season pass as a gift other wise I wouldnt have gone.) and The Pier in Ocean City MD. Dollywood, well it had been a while since I had been and I was surprised at how much has changed. Its gone a little more kiddy themed but not in a bad way. The Thunderhead was awesome, but dont ride it in the rain... and Tiiimber Towers sucked... horribly. But it is overpriced to get in, but most of the food and games ect. are fairly decently priced. As for the gifts, when are themepark gifts ever a decent price? Hopefully with this new coaster opening in 2007 or 08 or whenever hopefully they will start focusing more on rides and less on crafts. The Pier: not much to say, its a little pricey too but its fun and you can only pay for the rides you do ride. Plus it was a very short walk for the condo and a good way to spend and hour or so. Thats about it. We might try to go to Scarowinds on Fall Break since it isnt too far of a drive! Hopefully next year will be better for me!
From Adrienne McDonald on September 4, 2006 at 9:36 AM
I'd planned to hit SFMM, SFMW, PGA, Knott's, all in the same trip but guess what, SFMM & Knott's are the only one's still open this week, the others are weekends only & since I'd planned to return Friday or Sat. Well, I guess I'll hafta wait til some other time so I'm detouring thru Vegas hoping to hit Desperado, Speed, & maybe Manhatten Xpress. Canyon Blaster is a no-brainer & been on it before but the others I missed last 2 times I visited. So I'll post how my trip went next wk. We did manage to get to SFOT last Sunday for a rather pleasant trip although it did come a gully-washer mid-day but cleared up later on. Planned to goto SFFT this wkend but didn't make it, maybe for Hallowscream.
From Pete Brecht on September 4, 2006 at 9:56 AM
Last year was my big amusement park tour, so in 2006 I didn't go to nearly as many parks as I did in 2005. Furthermore, almost all the parks I visited this year were repeats of last year; the only new one for me was King's Island, which I went to on the way back from a business trip in Chicago. The other parks I visited this year were HersheyPark, BGE, PKD, Geauga Lake, Sea World Orlando, BGA, Universal & IOA.

I had planned to go to Cedar Point for a couple of days at the end of August, but I just couldn't get that excited about spending 16 hours in the car just to go visit one park that I've already been to. Furthermore, CP's top 2 attractions (TTD and MF) have had a fair amount of downtime this summer, and I would have been pretty ticked if I'd gone all that way just to have one or both not running (TTD was down when I went to CP last year). If you take away those two coasters, CP isn't much better than PKD, which is just an hour from home.

In the end, I figured that it would cost about the same amount of money to fly to Florida for 3 days, so I did that instead. I did Universal/IAO, SWO, and BGA and had a great time. None of the parks were very crowded since it was mid-week, and school is back in session in Florida.

My last day there was when Ernesto was starting to arrive, so when I went to BGA before flying out of Tampa, the place was deserted. The workers greatly outnumbered the guests, and even after a couple of hours there were only a few dozen cars in the parking lot. It was like having my own personal theme park!

None of the parks I did this year had any major new attractions (unless you count Italian Job as major), so I can't really count a best/worst new attraction. The Beast was my favorite ride that I hadn't done before, but it's certainly not new!

This doesn't really count as a theme park attraction, but I saw La Nouba for the first time, and it was fantastic. The tickets are fairly pricey, but if I had been in Orlando another night, I probably would have seen it twice.

From ryan saunders on September 4, 2006 at 11:10 AM
in case you people haven't heard, CP has won the biggest award possible for the 9th year in a row, so all of your opinions are pointless and mean nothing...
From Chris P. on September 4, 2006 at 3:31 PM
Dear Ryan Saunders,

Your foolish comments are getting on my nerves.

CEDAR POINT ISN'T THE CENTER OF THE WORLD!

Saying that our opinions are pointless and mean nothing offends me very much. If our coments were pointless then this site would not have a comment system. You would do us all a favor by shutting up.

Sincerely,
Everyone on Theme Park Insider

From Christy Shuman on September 4, 2006 at 3:41 PM
Ryan, How old are you? I seriously doubt you could possibly be any older than 12, judging by your childish ways. Anyway, my theme park trips this year was good, what few I went to. BGE was pretty good, had a few good coasters, Apollo chariot and loch ness being my favorite but am ready to try out griffon next season. And of course PKD, Volcano and hypersonic being my favs there. Thats it for me didnt get a chance to hit many but enjoyed the 2 that I did.
From Robert OGrosky on September 4, 2006 at 4:04 PM
I was able to hit 2 new parks this year that i had never been too before which was my goal. I went to Dollywood and Holiday World, and i had a excellant time at each one!!
While Dollywood doesnt have a big collection of coasters or flat rides, it does have some excellant attractions and it is a beautiful park!!!! I dont know how many people have visited the park, but it is well worth the visit, escpeically next year when it opens a coaster that is the first of its kind in the US.

I also found Holiday World to be a very enjoyable park, with there new coasters The Voyage to be a excellant ride. They have 3 great wooden coasters but the park is lacking in other flats and shows.

I was able to achieve my goal for this year and really like the new parks I added.

From Betty Rohrer on September 4, 2006 at 6:31 PM
it has been a different year for me. i did not make it to my home park hershey but i got to disney for only the second time. had a great time, even mk, for 6 days. got to all 4 parks plus both water parks. worst part was knee could not handle all the walking and had to use wheelchair or cart more than i like to admit. only got one trip to dollywood but have one more trip down tis month. i got to see dollywood in different way with grandson who was only 19 months at the time. i still love the coasters and the shows but i also enjoyed watching his discovery of the park. taking him and his older brother later this month. we did splash country while down. enjoyed time there. can not visit dollywood with going to doggywood, the day kennel, at dollywood. that is the highlight of the trip for gidget, our dog. i know next year will probably not have as much travel. will probably only make hershey and dollywood and i am looking foreward to new coaster at dollywood.
From Coaster Enthusiast on September 4, 2006 at 11:42 PM
Being a coaster enthusiast who cannot any longer ride coasters, I go for the themeing alone.
Yes, seeing big, bad, behemoths before me can be astounding, but if there is nothing else to occupy my time, then ... blah.

Last year, I managed to take in the opening day of DarKastle at Busch Gardens, VA; a coaster marathon (twelve in five hours) at King's Dominion, VA (I was still riding last year); and the closing weekend for AstroWorld, TX (among others).
I can say I had the best time at Busch Gardens.

I think Busch gardens has won "Best Theme Park" the past two years in a row -- taking over Disney for the first time!

This year, I've been working hard on video productions of my own. However, I did happen to take a spell on TheSteelEel at Sea World in San Antonio. This is also a Busch park. I had a great time (and didn't miss riding GreatWhite at all--I got to stand under the track and watch!!)

Since all the 70's movies are being re-made ... I wonder if there would be a market for re-making RollerCoaster!
Hey, Rayn! Do you want the first ride?


:-)

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on September 5, 2006 at 3:41 AM
OOH, Ryan! You're a Cedar Point freak! Yes I know it won big awards "more" than any other parks. But you know, people have their own opinions. Yupe, I know I know. I really want to visit CP, however, my mom won't even allow me visit Ohio just for theme park traveling. My mom said it is a waste of time! I think I'm the only person in my family.
From steve lee on September 5, 2006 at 9:15 AM
^Theme park travelling is a waste of time or the entire state of Ohio is a waste of time? Admittedly, after the second week in Ohio, I started to agree with the latter sentiment...
From ryan saunders on September 5, 2006 at 12:07 PM
good 2 hear that stevie, the state of ohio hopes u never come back either. stay in FL where they have not 1 thrill ride, must be fun....
From Chris P. on September 5, 2006 at 1:13 PM
Who the f*** do you think you are Ryan? Cedar Point isn't the only f***ing place with thrills. Have you ever been to Florida Ryan? BGA has thrills, IOA has thrills, EVEN MGM STUDIOS HAS THRILLS! So why don't you take you're ugly face and shove it up Dick Kinzel's a$$.
From Robert Niles on September 5, 2006 at 1:17 PM
No need to poke the troll, folks. He likes the attention too much.

Real theme park fans can love more than one park. We're easy that way, I guess. ;-)

From scott sorensen on September 5, 2006 at 4:21 PM
We've gone to Orlando for the last two Spring breaks. WDW a year ago and Universal this April. Stayed at Hard Rock Hotel. Beautiful hotel, grounds, and pool however rooms need maintainence - new carpets, linens, etc. Best part was that you got Express Passes for all of the rides at the two Universal parks and could cut to the front of the lines. Did the 5 park flex ticket option.
- Islands of Adventure - very fun park with some excellent rides.
- Universal Studios - OK but a little disappointing.
- Wet-n-Wild waterpark - very fun! It was our favorite park of the five.
- Sea World - great shows, but only worthwhile ride was Kraken.
- BGA - disappointing. Major problem here was shuttle bus arrived at 10:40 and left at 5pm so hit peak times and lines were very long. Line for SheiKra too long - would have missed the bus back to Orlando.

Best rides, in order - Kraken (SW), Dueling Dragons (IOA), Montu (BGA), Mummy (USF), Spiderman (IOA), Kumba (BGA), Hulk (IOA). Kids liked Hulk and Kumba the best.

Best shows - Katonga (BGA), Blue Horizons and Odyssea (SW). The new Believe show didn't open until May so only saw rehersals.

Best restaurant - Mythos (IOA) - incredible!!

Biggest disappointments - Rhino rally and Scorpion (BGA), Jaws and Earthquake (USF).

Also went to our local MN park - ValleyFair! - fun day, short lines. Park openned at 10, but Wild Thing and Extreme Swing didn't get going until 1pm. I've heard that only one of the swings on Extreme Swing has been operational most of the summer.

From ryan saunders on September 5, 2006 at 4:29 PM
i'll b in heaven this weekend, where will u be?
From Chris P. on September 5, 2006 at 4:31 PM
So you're going to die this weekend? Thats fine with me.
From ryan saunders on September 5, 2006 at 5:43 PM
CP is heaven, ask most anyone
From steve lee on September 5, 2006 at 7:17 PM
Hey, Scott - for what it's worth Hard Rock Hotel is spending around $7 million on renovations and it looks like they're going all out. New sheets, pillows, carpeting, and flat screens in every room. That's the one Universal hotel I've missed, so I'll have to check it out once the renovations are done.
From scott sorensen on September 5, 2006 at 9:07 PM
Steve,
If Hard Rock Hotel makes those changes, I would strongly recommend it. With some minimal changes, it would be a top-rate resort. Maybe we just got a bad room. The carpet had huge stains on it - looked like Tony Soprano had someone whacked there the night before. Or maybe it was the room Jimmi Hendrix OD-ed in. Otherwise, it was alot of fun. When we were on the shuttle, we heard alot of people complaining about the Royal Pacific Resort. Never went inside it, but looked run down from the outside. I would be hesitant about Royal Pacific, unless someone knows more.

As an aside, next August we plan on taking the kids (ages 13 and 15) on a 2-week tour of the Cedar Fair/Paramount parks in the upper Midwest - Michigan, Ohio, Penn, Toronto. Would be interested in hearing suggestions. And yes, Ryan, we are looking forward to spending a couple of days in heaven at CP. We'll hold a moment of silence by your grave.

From steve lee on September 5, 2006 at 9:19 PM
^not trying to threadjack, Scott, but we LOVED Royal Pacific. I liked it a lot more than Portofino Bay and the staff there was infinitely nicer. We haven't stayed there in about two years, but when we were there we were extremely pleased.
From Stephen Tuday on September 5, 2006 at 11:22 PM
With all the black eyes the Six Flags chain has gotten lately, it's time to express some kudos for the new management team! I have to admit I have had more fun this year at my home park, Six Flags over Georgia than I have had in a very long time. As a 17-year season passholder, I can say with confidence that the changes are real and the difference is huge. Park personnel seem to be friendlier, the lines seemed shorter, and the park looked much cleaner.

While it seems almost everyone else has been slamming Six Flags this year, this SF guest has been extremely happy with the 2006 season.

I hope Six Flags' upper management gets to see this message; your efforts are very much appreciated!

Also on my 2006 list: Wild Adventures (Valdosta, GA) - although there were no major new rides added this year, this park continues to impress me with the theming and cleanliness, and lack of waiting lines.

All-in-all it's been a great year for Georgia's two big theme parks!

From Christopher Reilley on September 6, 2006 at 2:21 AM
well unfortanitly do to health probs no parks this year for this old ride junkie.Its great to see how many of you got to go out and enjoy the parks.As far as Ryan goes he needs a reality check CP may win awards for its rides but Steve Lee hit the nail on the head.Go ask CF Managemant who thay would rather see more of a bunch of Local area Teenagers with limeted money and season passes that mom and dad bought them or All the Adults who travel with their kids from out of town or the people who travel to check the park out . I very seriously doubt that They would want CP to turn into another SFMM.CP may win awards for its coasters but I'm sure CF Management would trade them all in for the cash that the Theme Parks generate due to their themeing and related items.Enjoy the rest of the year all and take an extra ride for an old ride junkie Cya at the parks next year .
From Kevin Sowinski on September 6, 2006 at 12:02 PM
I had an exellent summer park wise, especially since I had hernia surgery in late May and had to wait a month or so to get to it.

Trip 1: Weekend trip to some of my more local parks (I live in Toronto, Canada). I went to 6 Flags Darien Lake near Buffalo for half a day and bought a seasons pass to use at other 6 Flags parks later in the summer see trip 3, (Superman is very good, the rest of the park is alright), Martin's Fantasy Island near Niagara Falls for half a day(Silver Comet good the rest of the park so so), and Seabreeze near Rochester for half a day(Exellent spinning wild mouse coaster and traditional park vibe, rest of the park so so.

Trip 2: Took advantage of Canadian long weekend in August and lack of 1 in the US to venture further afield and hit some smaller traditional parks in western Pennsylvania. I went to Waldameer for half a day (Fun spinning coaster, nice family park), Conneaut Lake for a half day(Blue Streak is a very good wooden coaster, nice setting, the park seems to be in decline), Idlewild/Soakzone for half a day (Coasters are so so, good selection of traditional flats, the ride out to the park and scenery at the park are excellent), Lakemont for half a day (Another park in decline, but the Skyliner coaster is good and has cool location next to the baseball stadium), and spent an evening at Kennywood (Love the park vibe and the awesome Phantom's Revenge).

Trip 3: The big one! I just got back on Labour Day. Took off the week before the long weekend for 9 day park tour of US north east.

Knoebels 1 day (Good traditional vibe, the amazing Phoenix, great value). Hersheypark 1 day (diverse coaster/ride line up and chocolate Sweet!). Paramount King's Dominion 1 day (Volcano and Flight of Fear are good coasters, the rest of coasters are decent, but the flats could be better). Busch Gardens Europe 1 day (fantastic theming, great scenery, amazing Apollo's Chariot). I tried to go to 6 Flags America but it was closed, so I went to Morey's Piers, instead (good traditional family type atmosphere with some decent rides). Next, I did a pop in at Clementon to ride J2 (okay for a little neighborhood park) and then went to 6 Flags Great Adventure. They have an excellent coaster lineup (Medusa, Nitro, Batman, Superman, El Toro, and Kingda Ka), but lineups are huge. In a 7 hour period I only had time to ride 5 rides. My next stop was Dorney Park (Talon and Steel Force are good coasters and the rest of the park is alright). I had planned to stop in at Coney island, but since it was Friday of the long weekend, I figured I didn't need the added traffic aggravation and made a detour. The next day was supposed to be a great day heading to Lake Compounce to ride Boulder Dash and 6 Flags New England to ride Superman, but Lake Compounce was being cautious anticipating the remnants of hurricane Ernesto hitting the area and closed for the day. Luckily 6 Flags was open so I got to ride the king of steel Superman for the whole day, instead. This park is decent, but could use some additional flats and coasters. My final day I checked out Great Escape for a couple of hours. Other than the Comet which is very good, the rest of this park is quite bad. Finally, I went to La Ronde in Montreal. Goliath and Vampire are very good coasters and there is a good variety of flats, as well.

Now, I've just got to make a visit to my local park Paramount Canada's Wonderland and the summer will be complete.

From scott sorensen on September 6, 2006 at 2:17 PM
Kevin, being that you're from Toronto, I'd be interested in hearing your views about your home park - PCW. It was one of the ones we were considering for next summer. Any new changes with Cedar Fair's buyout of the Paramount parks?
From Chris P. on September 6, 2006 at 4:25 PM
I have something to say about planning a trip to PCW. Come on a Sunday in May or October. Crowds are light. The park doesnt look as "nice", but if you want less crowds this will do.
From Kevin Sowinski on September 6, 2006 at 8:07 PM
Scott, my view on things is that both Cedar Fair and Paramount were doing a decent job running their parks before the acquisition. In the short term, I see day to day operations staying at a good quality level in all former Paramount parks including PCW. In the longer term, I see things improving as the Cedar Fair takes some of the positive things from the finest Paramount minds and applies them to all of their parks.

Cedar Point park is often criticized for lacking good flat rides while having great coasters and PCW is the opposite. PCW has good flat rides, but is lacking in high thrill/signature coasters. So, I am hoping that PCW in particular will improve in the coaster area as a result of the take over.

This park is wildly popular with locals, leading to some seriously long line ups. I was there last season the final weekend before they closed for the winter and the line ups prevented me from getting to all of the decent rides in one full day of riding.

August is probably the busiest month at this park, so you should probably make every effort to research which rides in the park are must rides and get a game plan together using a copy of the park map to help minimize waiting times and moving around the park type inefficiencies.

From Greg Mills on September 7, 2006 at 1:39 PM
You all need to chill the feck out. Quit droppin' hate bombs on one another for their preferences of parks. We're supposed to be theme and amusement park enthusiasts, not gangsters. Ryan, quit actin' like a Cedar Point Roller and the rest of you fighting with him quit trying to "rep your sets," because IT'S ALL ABOUT AMUSEMENT, not about an imaginary pissing contest to see who's better! I personally love Cedar Point...Aye, AND King's Dominion, AND Busch Gardens, AND Universal Orlando... Do you want me to go on? It's not about picking ONE park and calling it your 'hood.' You see? The narrow-minded stupidity of gangsters and the way you lot are fighting it out is VERY similar, so please, for the rest of us here, knock it off, that goes triple for you, Ryan.

Now, on topic, I hit my usual runs. Busch Gardens, King's Dominion, Cedar Point, etc etc. I was most disappointed with King's Dominion this time around; they shut down their Flight of Fear ride, and for like an hour they closed the entire selection of rides because a "storm was in the area." The sky was clear blue as far as the eye could see. That's the only complaint.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: Disney's new finger scanners raise fears of 'Big Brother Mickey'



What's it like to work at Disney World?

Working at Disney World

Insider's Pick: Ever wondered what it would be like to work at the Walt Disney World Resort? Stories from a Theme Park Insider offers more than 100 pages of fun, insightful, and even sometimes touching stories from people who've worked at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. It's a great way to get in the mood for your next trip to Orlando, or just to keep the memories of a Disney World visit alive.

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks