Announcing Theme Park Insider's 2009 Summer Roadtrip
Published: May 18, 2009 at 9:30 PM
This summer, my family's loading up the Prius for an epic, 33-day trip across the country and back. Of course, we'll be visiting several theme parks along the way.
I've long believed that planning a trip can be just as fun as taking it, and I'm deep into the planning process now. An atlas lies on my nightstand, and I've used both it and Google Maps to plot the best routes to each of the nightly destinations we've planned. We'll be staying with family and friends most of the evenings during the trip, with 12 hotel nights mixed in.
My latest obsession has been trying to find good places to eat along the way. By good places, I'm trying for reasonably-priced, locally-owned and operated casual restaurants that serve locally-grown food from independent farmers and bakers. I'm trying to show my kids their country, and I'd like to show them at least a few places that are not the same old chains, or allegedly "mom and pop" joints that actually get their food off the same Sysco truck as a million other restaurants.
The best example I've found so far is Local Burger in Lawrence, Kansas, where we'll be eating for dinner on the fourth night of our trip. (We're starting in mid-July.) If anyone has any other, similar suggestions, lemme know.
The route? We'll be taking I-15 up from Los Angeles to Utah, where we'll hop on I-70. After a day in Denver, we'll proceed on I-70 to St. Louis, where we'll switch to I-64. After a detour up to Bloomington in Indiana, where Laurie and I met at IU, we'll be in Cincinnati for a week.
From there, it's back up to I-70 and over to Washington, D.C. for a long weekend. We'll then drive down to Williamsburg, Virginia for several days, then make our way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee via I-85 and I-40, with a stop in Durham, North Carolina. We're planning taking the coastal route from the Smokies, I-26 to I-95, our on way down to Florida, where we'll spend another week in Orlando.
Finally, we'll drive up to the 10, which we will take west back across the country, with stops in New Orleans, Austin, Texas and southern New Mexico.
The theme parks we'll be visiting? Holiday World in southern Indiana, Kings Island outside Cincinnati, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Dollywood, SeaWorld Orlando and the two Universal Orlando parks. (Both the kids will have done their birthdays at Disneyland in the three weeks before our trip, so we're not feeling a huge need to add Disney World into the trip. But who knows? Schedules change.)
I will file photo-filled trip reports from each of the parks we visit, along with blog posts from several other interesting sites we find along the way.
Here's what I'd love to hear from you, Theme Park Insider readers. First, those restaurant suggestions. Next, touring plans for the four non-Orlando parks we'll be visiting. What are the can't miss rides and restaurants in each? And in which order should we see them? What are the best places to stay in or around these parks?
And finally, what stories and features would you like to read from each of these parks? (Including the Orlando ones.) I know that a lot of folks won't be in the position this summer to take the vacation they'd like to take, so I want to do what we can to tell some great stories that help folks see, hear and experience some of the sights that they might be missing.
And, yes, I recognize that we're insane for planning this. But it's gonna be fun. And I'm going to enjoy using the Blog Flume to help bring TPI readers along for the ride.